Economic Update

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Sandra Watson
President & CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority


Arizona is known for our spirit of opportunity and with Governor Ducey’s leadership we are getting things done! Our state continues to receive national accolades for our progress. Here are a few recent highlights:

  • A July 2016 update from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Arizona’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is strongly outpacing projections. Arizona’s real GDP increased at an annualized growth rate of 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, well above the national rate of 1.2 percent. Our state posted the highest GDP growth rate in the Southwest region and tied for the fifth highest growth rate in the nation.
  • In June 2016, Forbes recognized Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area as the “clear rising star” on its list of Cities Winning the Battle for Information Jobs, outside of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Growth in information employment in Arizona was 7.51 percent in 2015, and grew by 39.29 percent from 2010 to 2015.
  • June 2016, Kiplinger Magazine ranked Arizona as the state with the second-fastest projected job growth rate in the country for 2016 at 3.2 percent.
  • In May 2016, Arizona was ranked #6 overall on Chief Executive Magazine’s annual “Best States for Business” list, representing a three-spot climb from last year’s report. Arizona was also ranked #2 in the Southwest region.

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), chaired by Governor Ducey, supports the growth of Arizona’s economy by helping businesses of all sizes create high-value jobs for our citizens and invest capital into our communities. During Fiscal Year 2016 which ended on June 30, the ACA closed 105 projects representing 17,629 projected jobs with average wages of $50,803 and $980.2 million in capital investment.

Governor Ducey’s vision for ACA 2.0 is to increase this success by streamlining economic development efforts, being more efficient with taxpayer resources, enhancing the state’s marketing efforts and creating a one-stop shop for businesses – small and large.

This plan is already underway. On August 6, two pieces of legislation the governor signed officially took effect: S.B. 1501, continuing the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and H.B. 2666, which consolidates various government functions which simplifies the financing process for job creators. The new Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, housed within ACA, will use real-time data to analyze Arizona’s competitiveness against other states, identify ways to drive down regulatory and tax burdens as well as develop a statewide workforce plan that aligns with Arizona’s economic development priorities.

The governor isn’t just committed to making government work better, he is also ensuring our state provides the best environment for job creators. Arizona leads the nation in supporting innovative, 21st-century business models. Unnecessary regulation on ridesharing has been lifted and outdated laws preventing homesharing have been removed. Entrepreneurs now have more access to capital through crowdfunding. Arizona was recently called the “hottest new city for autos” by Fortune Magazine, which noted that our state is “fast becoming a key center of the burgeoning self-driving car industry.” Google, Uber and Cruise have all established testing programs for self-driving cars in Arizona – thanks in large part to the governor’s executive order allowing autonomous driving.

I am confident that this positive momentum and growth will increase and I look forward to keeping you updated on our continued economic success.



Sandra Watson brings more than 20 years of economic development leadership experience to Arizona. For more information about how the ACA can partner to help businesses expand and grow, visit