A Message From Glenn Hammer, CEO & President of Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Glenn Hamer
CEO & President, Arizona Chamber of Commerce

Having shaken off the deep chill of the Great Recession by emerging economically more diversified, more attractive to job creators, and better positioned to win the jobs of tomorrow, Arizona’s most illuminating economic indicator might just be the number of inbound U-Hauls. The rebound is astonishing for a state that eight years saw over 300,000 jobs evaporate and whose growth was feared to be permanently stuck in reverse. But with a mix of dedicated leadership and pro-growth public policy, Arizona got its mojo back.

In late 2015, Arizona became the 14th most populous, surpassing Massachusetts. Phoenix recently reclaimed the title of fifth-largest city in the country, eclipsing Philadelphia for the first time since 2010. We’re growing faster than the national average, with a predicted growth rate of 2.8 percent by 2018 – topping the national average of 2.2 percent.

Some of the most sought-after jobs in the country are landing here. Boeing announced that it’s moving hundreds of jobs from Seattle to Phoenix. Intel projects it will bring 3,000 new jobs to the Valley as part of a major expansion and an additional 10,000 jobs will support the operation. We’re on the leading edge of high-tech manufacturing and industry. Lucid Motors, an up-and-coming company aiming to compete with Tesla by creating an electric luxury sedan, has chosen Casa Grande to be the host for its new $700 million factory.

For Lucid, the location is made even more optimal thanks to Arizona’s better-than-ever relationship with Mexico and a highly integrated cross-border supply chair. Arizona’s leadership structure here and in Washington, DC is working to ensure that a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement positions Arizona to be even more competitive on a global scale.

And speaking of four-wheeled innovation, we’ve established the country’s most welcoming environment for autonomous vehicle testing, spurring Waymo to bring its cars here. Uber has brought its autonomous testing here, too, after California threw up too many regulatory roadblocks. The company responded by loading up a trailer full of vehicles bound for Arizona and was welcomed with open arms by Governor Doug Ducey.

When these industry leaders choose to invest in Arizona, other companies eyeing expansion take notice. That is why companies such as Yelp, Weebly and other Silicon Valley firms have also been investing in Arizona. Much of the credit for fostering Arizona’s pro-jobs environment is due to Governor Ducey, who has emerged as one of the country’s most dynamic chief executives, combining a proven business acumen (earned from years in the private sector leading Cold Stone Creamery) with an instinct to get government out of the way of free enterprise.

Governor Ducey is committed to establishing a regulatory environment that seeks to dramatically reduce red tape and promote greater predictability. Unveiled in January, his “Regulation Rollback” program was launched to seek input from employers on which business regulations could be scaled back or eliminated altogether. After evaluating the different suggestions, the goal is to eliminate 500 regulations by December 2017.

In partnership with the Legislature, Governor Ducey is also bolstering Arizona’s reputation for having one of the nation’s best legal environments for job growth. Policymakers have worked to discourage costly, time consuming litigation.

Governor Ducey earlier this year, for example, signed into law a bill strongly backed by the business community that will help curb the spate of bogus lawsuits brought under our disability access law. The new law strikes the right balance between employers and the rights of individuals with disabilities, while holding trial attorneys accountable.

Arizona is winning in the classroom, too. The passage of Proposition 123 in 2016 is directing $3.5 billion into the K-12 system over the next decade. And that’s just the start. The Legislature and Governor Ducey in 2017 adopted a results-based education funding model to direct $38.5 million dollars to high performing schools, with a special emphasis on schools serving low-income kids. The positive results are starting to show. Arizona boasts the nation’s most pronounced gains on the Nation’s Report Card in math and science and we’re home to five of the top 10 best public schools in the nation.

Our higher education offerings are also first class. Arizona State University has the distinction of being ranked the country’s Most Innovative by US News & World Report, Governor Ducey and Legislature in 2017 adopted a bonding package that will fund the development of new research infrastructure at ASU, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, and post-secondary private institutions like Grand Canyon University are delivering exciting new educational options online and on campus.

Arizona is making the right moves to climb the ranks of best states to do business, but we can’t rest on our laurels; the other 49 states are doing all they can to grow and land more jobs too. But the outlook is bright. With leaders who are ready to compete and who value entrepreneurism, hard work, and creative thinking, I like our chances.