Saturday, July 01, 2006

Great New Jobs Means More Money For Real Estate

Technology Reigns in Tempe

Jul. 1, 2006 12:00 AM

Nine out of 10 Arizonans think developments in science and technology are critical to the creation of high-paying jobs.

That's according to a new survey by Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, which also found that a majority of Arizonans are willing to pay higher taxes to support research.

If that's the case, that most people equate science and technology with quality job creation, they should be keeping tabs on the researchers and employers choosing Tempe.

One of the state's most promising research facilities, the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, is in Tempe. It has attracted renowned scientists and created several hundred jobs for lab technicians and last year was the Valley's largest generator of biomedical research funding.

Researchers there are working with folks in private industry to speed innovations into the marketplace, everything from pollution-eating molecules to sensors that help diabetics manage their disease.

ASU's Flexible Display Center has a similar mission. The center, which is developing rugged, flexible computer screens, has partnered with the Army and industry heavyweights such as Honeywell, Corning and General Dynamics to speed the invention's completion.

ASU's Tempe campus has plenty of other programs that are attractive to high-paying employers. Google, the Internet search giant that offers legendary employee perks, recently chose to open its temporary office in Tempe, partially so it could be close to innovators at the university.

According to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, nearly 11,000 people work in "high technology" jobs in Tempe.

But the potential for growth, even in office parks outside Tempe, could be exponential in the years to come if, say, someone at the Biodesign Institute finds an effective cure for Alzheimer's disease. A spinoff (or spinoffs) would need to hire workers to manufacture the drug.

Of course, job-creating innovations won't come overnight. And it's anyone's guess whether the big ones, such as a cure for Alzheimer's, will ever come.

It's hard to say if most Arizonans understand that. The Morrison Institute survey didn't ask how long people thought it would take for the investment in science and technology research to pay off or what fits the bill as a "high-paying job."

Nevertheless, if there truly is a correlation between science and job creation, it should be easiest to find it in Tempe.

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