Change Agents

by Don Rodriguez

Giving of yourself for something bigger than yourself.

That mindset is alive and well among a group of individuals working quietly behind the scenes with a single mission in mind: to ensure Arizona’s competitiveness to accelerate technology-related policy and legislation, thus affecting positively the growth and development of a vibrant technology state.

These are members of the Arizona Technology Council’s Public Policy Committee, who, outside of their regular careers, have taken on the challenge to take the state to a higher level by keeping Arizona tech-friendly, business-friendly and regulation-friendly.

The committee currently is chaired by Jason Bagley, senior director of state government relations at Intel, with Council staff support from Executive Emeritus Ron Schott. They are charged with leading the efforts of volunteer committee members whose duties range from testifying before the Legislature on a regular basis to selecting 10 Arizona legislators with track records of technology industry support for honors at the Council’s annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation.

In between, committee members work with legislators, elected officials and policymakers at all levels of government to educate them on the value and promise of the technology industry. Through it all, they focus on four areas: technology commercialization and development, workforce development, supply-chain development, and capital formation. 

They are quite open about their intent, especially when making their rounds in the halls of the state Capitol. Before the start of each legislative session, the committee helps prepare key ideas, goals and legislative initiatives that are published in the Council’s annual Public Policy Guide. For 2021, they include:

  • Improve the business climate for technology-based companies;
  • Provide sources of risk capital that encourage entrepreneurship, with a focus on minority entrepreneurship;
  • Create an environment that supports science- and technology-related job retention and creation;
  • Attract, train, retrain and retain the diverse talent required to compete in a global innovation economy; and
  • Help ensure technology businesses can recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, then thrive.

The last point is especially critical. It’s also at the heart of a unique but related public policy initiative of the Council. The group, in partnership with The Western Way, recently released a report detailing how to incorporate energy innovation into Arizona’s plan for recovering from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Titled “Innovation and Clean Energy Industry Recommendations for Economic Recovery: Policy Options from Arizona’s Business Community,” the report outlines the economic benefit of energy innovation and specific recommendations for policymakers to integrate clean energy and clean technology initiatives into the recovery plan roadmap. The Western Way is an organization working to drive free-market conservation policies in western states. The report is available for download at

The Council and the committee’s ability to help shape public policy comes from years of developing relationships with elected officials, no matter which side of the aisle they call home. These connections often stem from work involved in preparing the biennial Vote TechSmart guide, which includes soliciting information from political candidates, conducting a comprehensive interview process and reviewing incumbents’ voting records — all to help determine which candidates receive the Council’s endorsement.

Beyond those endorsements, the Council’s Political Action Committee (PAC) supports pro-technology candidates for state and local offices, regardless of political affiliation. Because government leaders at state, county and local levels make decisions impacting the technology industry, the PAC offers an opportunity to support candidates and elected officials who understand the impact of their decisions on the tech ecosystem. More information on giving of yourself through a contribution is available at

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