President’s Message: November 2015

by Steven G. Zylstra

Steve Zylstra

Three times a year we at the Arizona Technology Council get the opportunity to share with In Business readers new information and highlights of our organization’s activities. It’s never a challenge to find topics that give a glimpse of not only what we do but why our state is a leader in science and technology. Our involvement also is part of the reason we’ve drawn more than 800 member companies — and counting. And our reports just scratch the surface on what’s happening.

Keep in mind, the Council represents just a portion of what makes Arizona so great. But greatness likely doesn’t come to mind for anyone keeping up with news reports about the state: the K-12 education system struggles, public policy can allow biases against anyone not born here or with different lifestyles, the overall job market hasn’t recovered as quickly as we would like.

With such a negative reputation among those who know Arizona only through such headlines, Gov. Doug Ducey has charged the Arizona Commerce Authority with a coordinated effort to improve Arizona’s brand. I definitely don’t dismiss the challenges that Arizona faces. But as we beat ourselves up over shortcomings, we ignore what we already have.

The governor is to be commended for moving to change this ill-gotten generalization. Arizona offers so much, and it’s obvious by just taking a look around. There’s the natural beauty from the Grand Canyon to Sedona and the man-made wonders from Roosevelt Dam to Biosphere II. While other states wrestle with crumbling infrastructures and dwindling water supplies, we have the Central Arizona Project and many new roads to get around on. And don’t forget our people, who offer a rich diversity of cultures and talent.

The governor recently honored our first responders as heroes. In addition to those people who put their lives on the line for us all, we actually are surrounded by heroes every day. Here are just some examples of where they can be found:

State universities: These are more than just places that grant degrees. Who would imagine that a student at The University Arizona would discover water flows on Mars? That is one result of the space exploration that constantly involves our university researchers.

World-class healthcare for children: If your child’s health has ever taken a turn for the worse, you don’t have to make the trek to Los Angeles for answers. Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Cardon Children’s Medical Center are right here to help. Every parent of every child saved launches his own branding campaign for the hospitals — and the state.

TGen: And if the children’s hospitals don’t have the solution today, teams at the Translational Genomics Research Institute are working on it. Through research on its own and special partnerships, TGen’s impact is global.

So before you buy into what the naysayers offer, take stock of what Arizona really offers its residents and the world. Be proactive like Gov. Ducey and work within your own networks to help change poor opinions about our state. We all deserve to be proud of Arizona.

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