Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority

from Sandra Watson


Sandra Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership experience to Arizona. She and her teams have attracted hundreds of companies to Arizona that have invested billions of dollars in capital and created more than 75,000 quality jobs for the state.

Strengthening the economy through high-value job creation is a primary focus of our state’s economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, cities, towns, academic institutions and the business community.

Our collective work has ushered in major coups for Arizona, including large-scale expansions by global giants that included Apple, GoDaddy and General Motors. About a year ago, State Farm broke ground on a nearly 2-million-square-foot regional headquarters in Tempe. Last month, California-based Silicon Valley Bank continued its expansion and committed to lend $100 million in capital to Arizona’s tech and life science companies over the next five years. Adding to this recent wave was the growth of locally based Infusionsoft and IO that bolstered our innovation ecosystem, as did significant expansions by California-based tech companies Gigya, Weebly and Prosper Marketplace.

In all, the Arizona Commerce Authority is proud to have assisted in the creation of 17,154 quality jobs during the past fiscal year, and worked collaboratively on the expansions and relocations of companies that plan to make $3.32 billion in capital investments in Arizona’s economy.

Fostering the right business environment to attract high-growth innovators has been part of our success.

We can look to the visionary leadership of Governor Brewer, who, with the support of our legislature, created the game-changing Arizona Competitiveness Package. This support is a big reason Arizona last year ranked No. 1 in the country for entrepreneurial activity according to Fast Company, and why Chief Executive Magazine in May ranked Arizona as a Top-10 place to do business.

In other words, business leaders recognize Arizona as a platform for industry growth. They view our state as a hub of innovation, with a rich talent pool and low cost of doing business that will help to drive their corporate success.

In this issue’s cover story, In Business Magazine editor RaeAnne Marsh explores the direction and strength of our region’s economic development efforts and how we fare in the ongoing competition with other regions to attract new business. In addition to input from the Arizona Commerce Authority, she draws on the experience and perspective from leaders of other local regional organizations as well as directors of individual cities’ economic development departments to provide an in-depth view of what is being done to create jobs and bolster our economy.

Heading into the November commencement of open enrollment for healthcare insurance on the government exchange, this September issue begins a three-part series to help educate business owners on healthcare coverage options. In this issue, providers and insurers share information to help employers educate their employees to make an informed decision. In addition, In Business Magazine has created a special “Open Enrollment Guide” to those providing plans and/or services.

In Business Magazine is a valuable resource that covers a wide range of subjects in each monthly publication. I’m pleased to have helped lead-off this September edition’s look at economic development.


Sandra Watson
President and Chief Executive Officer
Arizona Commerce Authority

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