Arizona Provides Digital Pioneers With the Ideal Environment for Success

Sandra Watson
President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority



The exact definition of the term “millennials” is disputed. Some say it means those born between 1981 and 1996, others say those born between 1980 and the mid-2000s. What’s not in dispute: millennials comprise the largest generation in United States history, and their influence on the economy is enormous.

Now in their prime working and spending years, millennials entered adulthood during the Great Recession, an experience that has given them a view of ownership of big-ticket items far different than that of their parents. Millennials are all about the “sharing economy,” and technology plays a large role in this. Technology has made cars and homes and almost anything else you need immediately accessible, and Arizona — home to a population younger than the national average — has responded.

Arizona has become the No. 1 environment anywhere in the world to test, launch, and scale new ideas and business models.

Since taking office, Governor Doug Ducey has signed a bill allowing ridesharing services, so companies like Lyft and Uber can operate without cumbersome regulations. Governor Ducey also supported home sharing by signing a law that lifted penalties for people who rent out their homes, and took it a step further by partnering with Airbnb to streamline the tax collection process, thus saving its customers time and money. Those measures are already paying dividends: Airbnb alone generated $11.5 million in tax revenue across the state last year.

Having recognized the brainpower and value of its tech-heavy workforce, Arizona is not just providing businesses with a place to incubate their innovations — it’s giving them a leg up in the marketplace as well. In April of 2015, Governor Ducey signed a bill allowing small businesses to raise money through crowdfunding campaigns in exchange for equity, thus empowering startups to raise capital in new ways. Governor Ducey has also established Arizona as a global leader in self-driving vehicle technology, and in 2017 he streamlined everything needed for 5G deployment, including regulatory requirements at city and county levels. Most recently, Governor Ducey signed into law the nation’s first FinTech sandbox bill, giving those exploring innovative new financial products and services the latitude to develop and test them responsibly without overly burdensome regulations.

Most important, though, is the culture Arizona has created for tech-savvy millennials. Arizona has become the No. 1 environment anywhere in the world to test, launch, and scale new ideas and business models. According to Cyberstates 2018™, an analysis published by the trade association CompTIA, net tech employment in Arizona last year totaled 237,122. No wonder the Index of State Economic Momentum, published by State Policy Reports, just named Arizona a top five state for economic momentum.

The Arizona Commerce Authority understands the impact emerging technologies are having on established industries, and we would be remiss if we did not recognize the influence that a young, tech-savvy workforce will have on our economy. The late Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” In Arizona, we’re advancing a plan for economic development that keeps our state on the cutting edge of technology — and its residents pioneers in innovation — to continue to lead in the global economy.