By Anne Cosgrove
From the July/August 2022 Issue
Arizona is strategically located in the southwest region of the United States. Major interstates, freeways, and transcontinental and interstate railroads connect the state directly to dozens of major markets throughout the region. This infrastructure provides highly effective flow for people and products, including one-day truck haul routes between Arizona and California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah as well as deliveries to and from Mexico.
For companies doing business on a global level, Arizona’s two international airports are located in Phoenix and Tucson. One of the largest in the world, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport transports more than 800 tons of cargo daily and more than 300 thousand tons annually.
Poised and ready to meet the needs of companies in growing industries, the state’s available workforce is skilled and abundant. While the national average age is 37.2, Arizona’s is 36.0. The population is plentiful, with more than two million workers living in the greater Phoenix area and an additional 450,000 in the Tucson metropolitan area.
The state’s renowned universities and community colleges are graduating highly qualified students in high-demand disciplines, ready to enter the skilled workforce. Both Arizona State University (ASU), the nation’s largest single-campus public university, and the University of Arizona (UA) are internationally recognized among the world’s best.
America’s largest community college system is located in the metro Phoenix area. The state is also home to three of the nation’s top 10 high schools, BASIS Scottsdale, University High School, and Gilbert Classical Academy.
Business Facilities spoke with Governor Doug Ducey about the latest for businesses in Arizona.
BF: How did the pandemic impact Arizona’s economy? How has the economy and business climate recovered now in mid-2022?
Gov. Ducey: Throughout the pandemic, we prioritized protecting lives and livelihoods—and we kept our economy open. As a result, Arizona experienced one of the fastest job recoveries in the nation. High-tech industries are booming. More people are moving to our state than ever before. We have no plans of slowing down.
This year, I signed legislation lowering personal property tax liability for business owners by 90% or more, adding to our state’s historic tax reform of recent years. With states around the country going in the opposite direction—adding crushing burdens and taxes—we’ll keep Arizona a place that welcomes new people and businesses.
BF: What are the growth sectors in Arizona right now?
Gov. Ducey: Arizona has become a global hotspot for high-tech manufacturing such as semiconductors, batteries, electric vehicles, biopharma, and aerospace and defense. Some of the world’s most advanced producers—like Intel, TSMC, Lucid, LG Energy Solution, and KORE Power—are expanding in Arizona because we offer a low-cost business climate, affordable, reliable, energy, access to global markets just a day’s drive away, and a skilled talent pipeline second to none. We continue to target manufacturing as well as emerging technologies—those changing the future. Technologies such as automated vehicles, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and renewable energy will continue to flourish here.
BF: Access to available workforce is more important than ever to companies. How does Arizona work to deliver on that need for businesses?
Gov. Ducey: We bring everyone to the table, working closely with industry to understand workforce demands and how best to meet them. For example, Arizona worked with Lucid last year to launch Drive48, a cutting-edge training facility that prepares workers for careers in automotive assembly. In less than a year, more than 1,700 Lucid employees had completed programming at the facility, which is housed at the local community college. In fact, the model has been so successful, we’ve allocated funding for six additional advanced manufacturing training centers at community colleges across our state. In collaboration with industry, the centers will offer customized, hands-on training in advanced fields such as semiconductors, batteries and electric vehicles.
BF: What else would you like corporate site selectors to know about Arizona’s business climate?
Gov. Ducey: As a former CEO, I cut my teeth in the business world. I know well that politicians don’t create jobs; entrepreneurs do. That’s why I’ve made it my mission over the last eight years to make Arizona the most welcoming state for business and innovation. We’ve eliminated or improved more than 3,100 regulatory burdens—the equivalent of a $171 million tax cut. We’ve simplified or reduced taxes every year, including cementing the lowest-in-the-nation flat tax. We’ve done it all while balancing our budget, building our rainy day fund to a historic $1.4 billion, investing in key areas like infrastructure and education, and passing policies that empower enterprise, not stand in its way.
- Arizona has recovered 120% of jobs lost since April 2020 (340,000+), and tied with Texas as third-fastest state to reach full recovery. (Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity)
- Between 2015 and 2021, Arizona added over 584,000 residents. (Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity)
- Among all U.S. counties, Maricopa County experienced the largest numeric population growth between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021 (58,246).
- Among the 10 most populous counties in the nation, Maricopa County is one of only two counties that gained population between July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021 (the other one being Riverside County, CA).
- Arizona’s workforce has increased by more than 410,000 individuals since 2015 and now has nearly 3.57 million people. (Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity)