Arizona Is Building on Its Growth Momentum

by Sandra Watson

“Not only does our momentum remain strong, the projects we’re currently working represent more jobs than roughly the same number did a year ago — an indicator of the quality and size of companies looking to Arizona as a location for growth.”

Throughout the pandemic, the Arizona Commerce Authority has substantially increased our services and programs for small businesses, which make up 99% of all Arizona businesses. The resilience and recovery of small businesses is critical for the overall health of our statewide economy, and our team will maintain this high level of support indefinitely.

In addition, we have not lost focus on our broader mission to grow Arizona’s economy through the creation of high-quality jobs for our residents. Despite economic headwinds, I’m pleased to say the level of interest in investing in Arizona has not declined. Not only does our momentum remain strong, the projects we’re currently working represent more jobs than roughly the same number did a year ago — an indicator of the quality and size of companies looking to Arizona as a location for growth. For evidence of our state’s ability to land global, industry-leading companies and continue to grow them, look no further than Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp’s selection of Phoenix for a $12 billion U.S. factory, and Raytheon’s choice to locate the headquarters of its newly integrated Missiles & Defense business at its Tucson site. These announcements further elevated Arizona’s profile on the world stage, and I am confident we’ll be sharing more big news in the coming months.

Prior to the pandemic, Arizona led the nation in economic and population growth. Over the past year, our state has been consistently ranked among the top five for economic momentum by State Policy Reports, which takes into account measures of personal income, employment and population growth. 

This momentum, combined with a substantially diversified economy, fiscal stability and attractive value proposition, has helped Arizona weather the storm during the pandemic.

In fact, with the pandemic exposing weaknesses in supply chains worldwide, we’re experiencing an incredibly high degree of activity and interested in Arizona from companies in the manufacturing sector who are re-evaluating their global footprint. Manufacturing projects currently make up nearly 58% of the ACA’s total pipeline. We expect that many industry leaders will consider reshoring some operations and creating more regional supply chain hubs. Arizona is incredibly well-positioned to benefit from these shifts and lead the nation in advanced manufacturing growth.

Arizona has always been a place shaped by forward-thinking leaders with a pioneering spirit and driven by fierce determination. The tenacity, dexterity and compassion shown by Arizonans throughout the pandemic has been truly incredible. Businesses and their employees have pivoted, innovated, served our communities and worked to keep each other safe when we needed it most. Looking ahead to 2021, while the public health crisis is not yet over, I am confident that, together, we’ll stay vigilant, keep moving forward, leverage our strengths and, ultimately, Arizona will once again lead the nation in innovation and economic growth.

Sandra Watson serves as the president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, a public-private partnership that leads statewide economic development. An economic development professional, she has 28 years of leadership experience. She and her teams have worked with more than 1,000 companies that have committed to creating more than 160,000 jobs and investing more than $15 billion in capital in Arizona.

Watson also oversees the Workforce Arizona Council and Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, a data-driven team focused on economic and labor market analysis. In addition to leading the ACA and serving on its board of directors, Watson serves on Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s leadership team as his senior economic policy advisor. 

Read the other “13 Top Valley Leaders on 2021” responses. »

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