With the New Year and new Legislature underway, it is a great time to prepare to take full advantage of the opportunities available to help companies succeed, advance our regional approach to economic growth and promote all the assets our great state offers to those who come here.
Our economic and legislative priorities for this year flow directly from our three guiding goals. We are driven by growing the regional talent pool; creating a regional approach to economic development and driving a pro-Arizona agenda. Fortunately we have partners in pro-business lawmakers and a pro-business governor in Doug Ducey whose policy goals are complementary to ours.
The governor laid out a bold plan during his 2017 State of the State address and followed it up with his proposed state budget plan that keeps education a centerpiece of his administration by increasing funding to improve K-12 schools, higher education, career and technical education and increasing teacher pay. A strong education system is vital to employers.
The Chamber’s economic development team along with the city of Phoenix, Maricopa County and the Arizona Commerce Authority – partners in our Phoenix Forward collaborative economic development initiative – visited more than 900 businesses last year and determined that the top priority for these employers is developing and maintaining access to a qualified workforce.
The vast majority of our efforts in this area are dedicated to building this talent pipeline in the construction, financial services, cybersecurity, compliance and risk management and health care sectors.
A strong education system – which trains the workforce Arizona employers need – is the cornerstone to building a strong economy.
While the Chamber focuses on growing Arizona-based businesses, organizations including the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council focus on attracting employers to Arizona.
Those potential Arizona employers expect our region to be well-equipped to educate their children and train their future employees. Combined with our state’s numerous other assets, our education system has potential to put Arizona ahead of states competing for those companies and the jobs and tax revenue they contribute.
In addition to our workforce priorities, our additional legislative priorities key to continued economic growth include reforming the state’s initiative process, which currently encourages out-of-state interests to use Arizona as a test bed for bad ideas, protecting businesses from frivolous Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits and reducing burdensome regulations.
I applaud everyone who helped get Proposition 123 passed last year and Gov. Ducey’s continued focus on education this year. There’s still plenty of work ahead of us, but with my dedicated staff, our Phoenix Forward partners and business-focused elected officials, I am confident we have the people and resources in place to be successful.
I encourage employers, educators and everyone interested in growing Arizona’s economy to join us Jan. 24 for Valley Voices presents The Intersection of Higher Education and the Economy, featuring ASU President Dr. Michael Crow and Maricopa County Community Colleges District Chancellor Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick.