The Phoenix metro is located within both Maricopa and Pinal counties, and includes over 30 incorporated and more than 30 unincorporated towns and cities. Over the past decade, the population in the Phoenix metro increased by more than 45 percent. The largest city is Phoenix which encompasses around 520 square miles, is the capital city and boasts a population of nearly 1.5 million.
As one of the primary beneficiaries of the massive shift in the U.S. population from north to south, Phoenix has had little difficulty finding workers. Phoenix claims six Fortune 500 headquarters including: Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold, Republic Services, Avnet, PetSmart, and US Airways Group.
Construction, high-tech manufacturing, healthcare and tourism dominate the Phoenix economy. The local economy has strengthened since the recession, with retail sales projected above 5 percent in 2013 and hotel occupancy levels rising.
High-tech manufacturing has been a powerful driver in the local economy for two decades. The region’s relatively low cost of doing business has encouraged several manufacturers to remain and expand in the area, while attracting others. Healthcare is also a critical industry to the Phoenix economy, with around 20 hospitals and a major medical research center located in the metro. Also, a new cancer center is under way at the Mayo Clinic.
Although the economic downturn slowed retail sales and construction, the weaker dollar increased the attractiveness of the Valley to foreign tourists and investors. Home sales to international buyers remain strong and new home starts are rising.
The Phoenix metro is bordered by mountains to the north and east. American Indian reservations to the east and south of Phoenix limit development in those directions, leaving the southeastern corridor and western half of the metro as the primary growth areas. The majority of land is flat or smoothly sloping, with a clay-loam base, making development relatively easy. The area's climate is arid with hot summers and mild winters.