Message from Sandra Watson President & CEO 

from Sandra Watson

In 2011, Arizona faced a true “crossroads” moment. 

Our economy slumped under the weight of the great recession. State revenue had plummeted. Families and businesses were suffering. 

What came next was unprecedented in our state’s history. Hundreds of stakeholders from the private sector, academia, elected office and more came together to develop a new vision for Arizona’s economy. Thought was given to the long-term. How do we grow high-value industries, attract better-paying jobs, and insulate against future downturns?

In short, how do we make an economy built to last? 

Many individuals put in countless hours to construct a blueprint for a new economic approach, one that would have Arizona leading, not reacting. The signing of the Arizona Competitiveness Package was a watershed movement for our state and, today, its impact is undeniable. 

In 2021 — 10 years after the launch of the Arizona Commerce Authority — our economy is diversified across several high-tech industries, with more jobs in manufacturing than construction; our startup ecosystem is attracting global attention; and our state is competing, and winning, at the highest level for economic development projects.

My sincere gratitude goes out to all the business and community leaders who have given their time and energy serving with the Arizona Commerce Authority, as board members or staff or alongside as partners in economic development. The work of the last decade has truly been a team effort. 

Today, Arizona’s diversified, high-tech economy is a resilient economy. Under Governor Ducey’s leadership, our state has weathered the storm of the past year and opportunity abounds at every turn. 

At the ACA, we remain grounded in our mission to grow and strengthen Arizona’s economy for all Arizonans, while keeping our focus on the future. We know there’s still plenty of work to do. We take on that work with energy, optimism and gratitude. 

Read the next article in this series.

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