Since taking office 21 months ago, I have made building a strong economy that works for every Phoenix family my highest priority.

If the Great Recession taught us anything, it was that our local economy was far too dependent on a narrow set of industries — and that to break free from the boom-then-bust cycle, we need a more diverse and sustainable economic base.

We’ve made real progress on several fronts. Phoenix is investing in education and workforce development; spurring new research and development through the biosciences; and we’re cutting red tape to streamline the permitting process in the city.

A critical component to our long-term economic health is to leverage our city’s strengths and play a more significant role in the global economy.

Our international economic development strategy is straight forward. First, build on our record as a foreign direct investment leader. And, second, better connect local businesses with the international marketplace to expand our export base and sell Arizona products abroad.

We’re starting by building a closer relationship with Mexico. With more than $5.7 billion in annual trade agreements, our neighbor to the south is already Arizona’s strongest trade partner. But we believe we can do more business with Mexico. Since taking office, I’ve led four trade delegations to Mexico — working with local business leaders, the state and local chambers of commerce, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and many more.

I’m also committed to seeking new opportunities — and believe we can do well in Canada, Asia, Europe, and Central America. That’s because Phoenix is uniquely positioned to leverage our growing population, talented workforce, infrastructure, tourism, pro-business climate and competitive operating costs to significantly increase exports and foreign direct investment.

I recently made the case for Phoenix at the World Economic Forum’s annual “Meeting of the New Champions” in Dalian, China. In addition to making a presentation about Phoenix’s new approach to sustainability and urban revitalization, I met with more than a dozen international business leaders and Chinese government officials, and talked about our city’s strengths as a center for job growth and investment opportunity.

Phoenix is a city on the rise — and we’re moving in the right direction. We’ve learned the lessons of the Great Recession, and with the right strategy, we can create an economy built to last.

• Greg Stanton was elected mayor of Phoenix in 2011.

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