Sedona High Technology Council,
better pay would help workers afford housing
Editor’s note: Granchelli
was vice president and executive officer of Silicon Valley’s Elantec
Semiconductor. After more than 28 years of large and small business
experience, and with two public offerings under his belt, Granchelli
moved to Sedona in December, 2000.
happens, and Sedona is no exception. The question is, what type
of growth do we want to see happen?
Visualize the Sedona you will see 20 years from now.
The current trend seems to be one of simply being content with
growing the poverty level. The most recent Community Plan calls
for adding an additional 950 “affordable” housing units to the
area. And then what, more?
I’d like to propose another scenario - one in which
we grow the ability of people to afford housing here rather than
simply growing the poverty.
First of all, to prepare itself for the future, Sedona
needs a High Technology Council.
Such a council will be a valuable strategic asset for
all of us, planning and paving the way for new economic growth,
job opportunities, advanced city planning, and technology-focused
academics. Over time, it will spawn new local industry while simultaneously
creating job growth. The objective has to be to provide the jobs
that will produce the income levels that Sedonans will need in
The need for people to be able to afford housing in
Sedona also fuels the requirement for high technology jobs in
Housing, with a median price approaching $370,000, coupled
with average incomes of approximately $40,000 per year, has created
an affordability chasm for people wishing to reside in Sedona.
These affordability statistics were recently highlighted by John
O’Brien, Sedona’s planning director. He states that an income
of approximately $100,000 per year would be required to qualify
for home ownership. A recent scan of available jobs in the area
does not reveal any obvious open positions paying in this range.
However, a quick search of the Multiple Listing Service
for single-family homes in Sedona under $150,000 does turn up
numerous opportunities. One starter home was approximately 900
square feet, for $82,000. With 95% financing, a down payment of
$4,000 would be required, plus a monthly payment of approximately
$505 (at the prevailing rates). Opportunities to own homes here
are available for less than one-third the median - today.
As we approach build-out in Sedona, assuming that the
economy recovers, it is reasonable to believe that median housing
prices will continue to increase. This is driven purely by supply
and demand and market-based factors.
The affordability problem will worsen if nothing is
done to create new jobs that can support the purchase of a house
with a $500,000 median price down the road. It is simply unrealistic
to assume that the job opportunities that exist here today will
support the housing cost requirements of the future.
But government has not been working effectively with
industry. We need to work together to change that if we want to
create sensible growth and higher paying jobs here in Sedona.
To be successful, a Sedona high-tech council must have
representation and buy-in from the top. The mayor, council, and
city planner must sponsor and drive the high tech council for
it to be successful. The council will need academic, industrial,
and venture-capital representation.
The council will need to provide a strategic vision
of what “high technology” means to Sedona. It most likely will
be the envisioning, planning, defining, designing, call support/application
centers and consulting in select focus-market and technology areas,
rather than local manufacturing.
The council would follow the proposed process:
2. Define role
of technology in Sedona
3. Take a technology-asset
how it can be packaged and sold to industry
5. Go sell
it to industry
In defining the role of technology in the context of
Sedona, it is of paramount importance that it be non-invasive
and transparent upon the area, focusing as I’ve mentioned, along
the lines of design, strategic marketing, and consulting. It is
key that in achieving growth, Sedona maintain its pristine beauty
and all the other elements that make this community a desirable
place to live in and visit.
As I’ve mentioned, it is currently proposed in the community
plan that Sedonans be responsible for putting up 950 “affordable
housing” units. Is this the “growth” trend we want to see happening
in Sedona? Rather than continuing to add to the poverty problem,
would it not make more sense to provide people with a means to
afford the considerable housing we already have?
I believe that the asset inventory will turn up a rapidly
developing technology base. Recently, while recruiting engineers
in this region for an electronics start-up company, I was surprised
how many tech people contacted me from this area. There is a base
of skilled people here already with no available tech jobs. A
number of people commute and telecommute to tech jobs outside
There also are skilled individuals in the process of
prospecting for their future retirement homes here. Many people
I have spoken to are from the tech environment. Technology is
here and will continue to advance. But will there be any jobs
in Sedona for these people in the future?
In the selling phase, matching up the available talent
with the needs of the industry is key. A Web site needs to be
created and targeted to recruiting personnel and hiring managers
of tech companies. The Web site also would have a listing of available
talent in the area.
It is time to stop wondering what to do about high housing
costs and the lack of high-paying jobs in the area and do something
How you can help? Contact your city council members
and voice your support for the creation of a high tech council
here in Sedona. There is also the possibility of forming a citizens
Comments or questions? You can Email Granchelli (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or leave a comment on our Web
site discussion page