Feedback: September 2014

by Danielle Casey | Glenn Hamer | Joyce Grossman

Question: Discussion of economic development for our region often focuses on attracting new business from out of state. How does that impact business in the Greater Phoenix area, and what is being worked on to develop economic opportunity for businesses here?

Danielle-CaseyDanielle Casey is responsible for the oversight and execution of the City of Scottsdale’s initiatives related to new business attraction, retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurial support, and employment center revitalization. She received her Masters of Administration from Northern Arizona University, and is a Certified Economic Developer and a certified Economic Development Finance Professional.

Danielle Casey
Economic Development Director
City of Scottsdale
Sector: Government

The reality is that there are thousands of economic development organizations nationally chasing only a handful of large corporate relocations every year. Many communities in Arizona have become acutely aware of this, and are developing complex business retention incentive and support programs, and economic gardening strategies. They are investing in incubators and partnering with higher educational institutions to offer creative solutions to business innovation — examples include SkySong Innovation Center, TechShop in Chandler or BioAccel in Peoria. In partnership with regional organizations like the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, targeted workforce training programs are under development as a result of direct business input, at places like the new Maricopa Community Colleges Corporate College. The Arizona Commerce Authority has also launched the highly successful Arizona Innovation Challenge program, with the highest awards offered to promising new firms in the country for programs of its kind. 

New business attraction will continue to be an important part of a balanced economic development strategy — but a focus on growing and retaining existing companies in a community provides much better odds of paying off and can result in significantly higher job returns over time.

Glenn-HamerGlenn Hamer has been president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2006. He has twice been named Power Broker of the Year by The Arizona Capitol Times and a Most Admired Leader by The Phoenix Business Journal.

Glenn Hamer
President and CEO
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Sector: Business Advocacy Group

The team at the Arizona Commerce Authority, led by the dynamic Sandra Watson, has done an excellent job selling Arizona’s business-friendly environment to employers in high-tax, high-regulation states that are looking for a more attractive place to set up shop. But the ACA and the Legislature and Gov. Brewer have also adopted policies that make Arizona a great place for businesses already here to grow and invest.

We are in the midst of implementing two significant economic competitiveness packages, which include a phased-in reduction of the corporate income tax, business property tax relief and tax reforms that help businesses in a start-up phase or that are selling products and services beyond our borders. Lawmakers and the governor have eliminated the sales tax on manufacturers’ electricity and natural gas consumption, putting us on stronger footing to grow these high-paying jobs. And throughout the Brewer tenure, we’ve been under a regulatory moratorium, and have implemented improvements to our legal environment.

As we emerge from the Great Recession, Arizona has done more than any other state to increase its competitive standing for job attraction. That’s good news for all job creators, whether they’re eyeing us from out-of-state or are already here.

Joyce-GrossmanJoyce Grossman, the executive director for the Arizona Association for Economic Development, previously worked for the City of Phoenix Community & Economic Development, where she managed the Business Retention & Expansion Program and the International Business Attraction Program. She has a B.A. from the University of California at Davis, an M.P.A. from California State University at Sacramento and is a certified Arizona Economic Development Professional. 

Joyce Grossman
Executive Director
Arizona Association for Economic Development
Sector: Professional Association

It is a mistake to assume that Arizona’s economic developers’ main focus is only on attracting new business from out of state. In reality, economic development organizations are working hard on retaining and growing the businesses they have in their towns and cities. Existing companies in a community can be responsible for up to 80 percent of all net new local jobs. 

Most economic development offices in the Greater Phoenix area have someone assigned to business retention and expansion. There are programs in place in Arizona for everyone, not just new business that is growing. It is easier and cheaper to grow what you have than to attract new business. 

Business attraction and business retention and expansion go hand-in-hand. Business retention staff can determine what suppliers are not in our marketplace that our current businesses need and make that a business attraction focus. They also can work with local businesses to see who they supply that maybe we should attract to Arizona.

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