The Republic reports that downtown Phoenix's struggling biomedical campus is in danger of losing the UA cancer center to the suburbs of Chandler or Surprise. The potential theft is being driven, of course, by an influential developer. He argues patients want a "resort setting."
It's amazing how metro Phoenix has totally reverted to a 19th century economy, where the only thing that seems to be valued is open land owned by pushy promoters. The 21st century economy is being driven by centers of innovation, which was the intention of the biomedical campus. There, researchers, educators, health-care professionals and students would work in close proximity, bringing bench-to-bedside cures, and the competitive leapfrog the region so needs. Sprawl kills that collaboration and opportunity, as has happened so often in Phoenix. More sprawl and decentralization will only deepen metro Phoenix's other challenges, from transportation to rising energy costs to global warming.
The grab shows the region's stark power imbalance. The city, especially downtown, lacks powerful private sector leaders who can write checks and knock heads -- the kind of steward-leaders behind every successful and competitive city. The stakes are high. Phoenix is struggling to avoid decline. The biomedical hub, done right, on the model of Houston's Texas Medical Center, is its best chance to do this. Much more than Phil Gordon's legacy is on the line.