Review of 2015 Predictions: The economy reporter ain’t so hot at prognosticating






Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson



Dec 15, 2015, 12:00am MST Eric Jay Toll Reporter Phoenix Business Journal

As a writer, fortune telling is not my forte, at least from the results of my predictions for 2015 published online Jan. 2. Looking back, I should just stick with reporting after the fact. Here’s how my projections turned out 9.8 points out of a possible 17.0; Mom says a 57.6 percent is a failing grade.

Economic development

  1. Too much development on Tempe Town Lake. 3.3 points of 4.0

This was a three-part projection about the 20 million square feet of CRE development proposed on the shores of the lake. So far, the 2-million-square-foot Marina Heights office complex and the 250,000-square-foot Hayden Ferry Lakeside III, both of which were under construction, are the only signs of direct lakefront office development. 1 point.

The Arizona State University Athletic Facilities District does have renovations underway at Sun Devil Stadium, but the plans for the complex are still under wraps by Catellus. I predicted the plans would be completed, but there were delays in getting the project moving. I get 0.33 points for this one.

Liberty Center at Rio Salado, the Liberty Property Trustdevelopment at Rio Salado Parkway and Priest Drive, did put up another building as predicted. 1 point.

There is still a couple of weeks left in 2015, and when I spoke with Nich Wilson of Douglas Wilson Companies about the One Mill Avenue project a few weeks ago, they thought there would be some action before year’s end. I did say I’d take a point if it started in the first quarter 2016. It will. I’m taking the point.

  1. The Legislature will tarnish Arizona’s brand once again. 0.0 points of 5.0

Somebody kept the kids in line and while there were earnest attempts to embarrass the state nearly a dozen times, none reached the governor’s desk. The only embarrassment came not from the tea party, but out of the hurried budget where education from pre-K to post-graduate was cut significantly, a move that was heavily followed by out-of-state economic development site selection consultants and kept some truly high-value jobs out of the state. But no bills passing, no points awarded.

With the increased tea party majority at the state Capitol and an unwillingness to recognize that there is a world on the other side of the Colorado River and White Mountains, I predict several bills will be introduced that are Arizona job-killers. There’s already talk of a repurposed Senate Bill 1062 making its way through the Arizona Legislative Council. These types of bills, while they may pander to various political persuasions, make Arizona look bad in the eyes of businesses embracing diversity in workforces. My prediction: At least five legislative opportunities to embarrass the state.

  1. Education will get the short shrift. 2.0 points of 2.0

I get a perfect score on this one. Even though the year ended with a better-than-expected balance sheet, nary a nickel was put back into the general fund to support Arizona education. Gov. Ducey does get kudos for bringing the legislature and schools together on the litigation and hammering out a solution to the lawsuit. Arizona education funding continues to have the biggest cuts and smallest recovery of any state, territory or the District of Columbia.

There was definitely no leadership from the Superintendent of Public Instruction, who spent more time and energy on temper tantrums than making education better for anybody anywhere. If there was ever a public office that needed to be constitutionally exorcised, this is it. Should go on the ballot with Proposition 123 in May to turn that office into an appointed position. After Horne, Huppenthal and now Douglas, voters Apple Mesa facility to come back online. 1.0 points of 1.0

Bingo. Apple is bringing its iCloud Command Center to Mesa, and according to Mesa Mayor John Giles, it is also going bring more jobs with it. Apple started small in Austin with 300 employees and now has more than 6,000. Mesa job startup: 300.

Banking and Finance

  1. Look for more mergers and consolidations in 2015. 2.0 points of 2.0

Paul Hickman, president and CEO of Arizona Bankers Association, made me look smart. We had a couple of banking M&As during the year as projected. UMB acquiredMeridian Bank and Heartland Financial acquired First Scottsdale Bank. For the second set of points, nearly every banker I talked with this year said that commercial bankers are spending more time on the street than at the desk.


  1. The Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway will break ground. 0.5 points of 1.0

The contract award was moved into January, so ground won’t break until second quarter 2016. I get to move the 2015 prediction to 2016. But that fact that the design-build-maintain contract is moving forward without an injunction is a positive sign that the final segment of Proposition 400 freeways is becoming real.

  1. Funding will come through for the next light rail extension. 1.0 points of 2.0

Voters passed the Phoenix Transportation 2050 plan with three light rail extensions and funding moved to the next phase for the South Central extension. However, I wrongly predict the Phoenix West extension would get the next bucket of bucks for planning and construction. Nope. Northwest Phase II to Metrocenter was the winner there.

Eric covers economic development, banking and finance, infrastructure, transportation and utilities.



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