Phoenix: Introduction

Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, is a study in contrasts. As the center of "the Valley of the Sun," the city has traditionally been associated with Old West myths, tourist resorts, and Sun Belt retirement communities. While it retains strong links with this image—frontier history permeates the city's culture and architecture, tourism continues to thrive, and people still spend their golden years here—Phoenix is also emerging as one of the "newest" cities in the nation. It is among the country's fastest expanding metropolitan areas, and with children under the age of 14 comprising a significant percentage of its inhabitants, Phoenix is adding a youthful contrast to its traditions as a frontier desert town and a place "where the old-timers go to retire." With a growing labor force and population, friendly business environment, affordable housing, and low cost of living, the area is ideal for businesses and residents alike. In 2004 the Milken Institute bestowed upon Phoenix a third place ranking on its annual "Best Performing Cities: Where America's Jobs are Created and Sustained" list.