Despite challenges, Arizona looks ahead to economic growth

Sandra Watson, President & CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority

Resilience and recovery – these are two words we’ve heard a lot throughout 2020, a year that has tested all of us in ways we previously never would have imagined.

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on our economy, not just in Arizona but worldwide. As we continue to cautiously navigate each day, prioritizing public health above all else, there are positive indicators for our state’s future.

Following the lessons learned during the 2008 recession, the Arizona Commerce Authority was laser-focused on diversifying our state’s economic base. Today, that effort has paid off and Arizona has significant strengths across several high-growth industries including business and financial services, technology and innovation, bioscience and health care, aerospace and defense, and advanced manufacturing.

In addition, under the pragmatic leadership of Governor Ducey, our state is on very stable financial footing. Due to his responsible management, Arizona has consistently benefitted from a structurally-balanced budget that makes targeted investments in key areas such as education and families, increased the balance in the rainy day fund to a record high of $1 billion, and seen our credit rating upgraded twice by Moody’s to Aa1.

Arizona also offers one of the best environments in the nation for both companies and individuals. Top talent, streamlined regulation, and affordable costs allow businesses to start and scale quickly. Plentiful job opportunities mean people can find a fulfilling career quickly, and thanks to first-in-the-nation occupational licensing reform implemented by Governor Ducey, those with a professional license in good standing in any other state can simply transfer it to Arizona when they move here.
Vibrant communities, year-round outdoor activities, and
affordable living costs draw and retain new residents.

Prior to the pandemic, Arizona led the nation in economic and population growth. Over the past year, our state was consistently ranked among the top five for economic momentum by State Policy Reports, which takes into account measures of personal income, employment, and population growth. This momentum, combined with a substantially-diversified economy, fiscal stability, and attractive value proposition, has helped Arizona weather the storm during the pandemic.

Despite economic headwinds, the level of interest in investing in Arizona has not declined. While there was a period during which some companies paused their plans, activity has resumed and economic development opportunities are on the rise. Not only does our momentum remain strong, the projects we’re working currently represent more jobs than roughly the same number did a year ago – an indicator of the quality and size of companies looking to Arizona as a location for growth.

For evidence of our state’s ability to land global,  ndustry-leading companies and continue to grow them: look no further than Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp’s selection of Phoenix for a $12 billion U.S. factory, and Raytheon’s choice to locate the headquarters of its newly integrated Missiles & Defense business at its Tucson site. These announcements further elevated Arizona’s profile on the world stage, and I am confident we’ll be sharing more big news in the coming months.

As we consider what lies ahead, it is undeniable that we still face uncertainty. Yet from it’s earliest days, Arizona has been a place shaped by leaders with a pioneering spirit and fierce determination.

Throughout the pandemic, the agility, tenacity, and compassion demonstrated by Arizonans have been remarkable. Businesses and their employees have pivoted,
innovated, and served our communities when we needed it most. This gives me incredible confidence that together, we’ll leverage our strengths, keep moving forward, and Arizona will once again lead the nation in economic growth.

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