Arizona: Job Growth Is Surging In The Grand Canyon State

With a booming economy fueled by a business-friendly climate and a thriving startup ecosystem, Arizona was fourth among U.S. states in GDP growth in 2018.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2019 Issue

Arizona’s booming economy has added more than 300,000 new jobs since 2015, according to a new employment report released recently by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).

Since 2015, Arizona has added 310,400 new private sector jobs (seasonally adjusted, nonfarm). Over the last year, employment has increased by 75,000 jobs, a 2.6 percent increase. During that same time, labor force levels increased by 93,510 individuals or 2.7 percent.

“Arizona’s exceptional pro-business climate continues to bring more jobs, more companies and more opportunities to our state,” said Gov. Doug Ducey. “This success is possible thanks to the hard work of our employees, job creators and entrepreneurs. Arizona will continue to prioritize keeping taxes low, reducing red tape and developing our skilled workforce.”

Arizona is leading the nation for economic growth, ranking fourth in the U.S. for GDP growth last year. Arizona also ranks third in the country for economic momentum, fourth for population growth and fifth for personal income growth.

According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Arizona’s real gross domestic product (GDP) increased by four percent in 2018, the fourth fastest growth rate in the nation. Arizona’s GDP growth outpaced that of 46 other states including California (3.5 percent), Florida (3.5 percent), and Texas (3.2 percent). Sectors including manufacturing, real estate and rental leasing, and construction contributed the most to Arizona’s GDP growth over the last year.

“A growing economy means more job opportunities, bigger paychecks for Arizonans and more investments in the things that matter, like education, child safety and public safety,” said Gov. Ducey. “Our growth continues to be driven by Arizona’s hardworking employees, job creators and innovators. We remain focused on creating the best economic environment and ensuring sustainable, responsible growth.”

In another sign of Arizona’s booming economy, the Phoenix metropolitan area led the nation for new jobs created over the last year. In a report released from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan statistical area (MSA) had the largest total nonfarm job growth of all large MSAs from May 2018 to May 2019.

The Phoenix metro area added 66,500 total nonfarm jobs year-over-year, representing 3.2 percent job growth—the largest of any MSA with a population over 1 million in the 2010 Census. Leading sectors for employment growth were Education and Health Services (17,200 jobs), Construction (15,100 jobs) and Professional and Business Services (12,800 jobs).

Not only is Arizona’s economy growing at one of the fastest rates in the nation, Arizona’s median household incomes recently reached a record high of $61,125.


For all communities, here in Arizona and throughout the U.S, quality of life is mission critical to business and community success.

In the City of Maricopa, we know one of our greatest assets is our people. Our more than 52,000 residents have chosen to live here because of Maricopa’s firm commitment to and emphasis on providing a quality of life that is second to none.

The Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Course (pictured) is a championship course owned and operated by the Ak-Chin (Native American) Indian Community. The 320-acre Southern Dunes course has an Australian sand dune-style design. (Photo: City of Maricopa)

For Maricopa, quality of life is at the heart of our community’s vibrancy.

Public, private, civic and educational leaders here work collaboratively and energetically to provide the kind of environment, investments and amenities to create the quality of life and economic opportunities that people of all ages and backgrounds seek for themselves, their families and their employees.

How do we define quality of life in our community? There are many distinguishing guideposts that help us convey what this important underpinning means to those of us who live and do business in Maricopa.

Quality of life in Maricopa is explained just partially by the fact that we are one of Arizona’s safest cities, and one of its smartest, too. One quality distinguishes Maricopa from most American cities: its talented and well-educated local workforce, 46 percent of which have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher (20 percent have a Master’s Degree or higher).

Providing residents with access to quality education at all levels is one of Maricopa’s primary objectives. We want every Maricopa resident, no matter what age, to be a lifelong learner.

The high performance of our K-12 schools that offer pre-school throughout the city and educate 7,200 students a year reflects the critical importance of education to Maricopans. And the pursuit of higher education is just as important. An important quality of life guidepost is Central Arizona College’s Maricopa Campus, a modern community college campus offering certificate programs and associate degree programs in high-demand occupations. In addition, Arizona State University and more than 30 public and private postsecondary institutions are less than a 40-minute commute from our city center.

Yet another guidepost to defining quality of life in Maricopa are the thousands of residents who partake of the scores of family-oriented events and programs like our Color Run, Salsa Festival, Merry Copa and other exciting festivals and events.

And let’s be sure to recognize and underscore world-class, award-winning community amenities such as the Ak-Chin Indian Community-owned UltraStar Multi-tainment Center—a one-stop destination nexus for experiences that fulfill a wide variety of interests and pursuits, including fine dining, movie theaters, digital arcades, bowling and other fun and exciting activities.

Maricopa’s Copper Sky Recreation Complex is yet another world-class quality of life guidepost, featuring a Multigenerational Center and Regional Park, offering state-of-the-art recreation equipment, acres of green spaces and community programing. With 500,000 visitors annually, Copper Sky is a catalyst for economic development.

There are many more quality of life guideposts in Maricopa. The Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Course is a world-class, Troon-managed championship golf course owned and operated by the Ak-Chin Indian Community. Ranked in the top 5 among Arizona’s golf courses, the Australian Sand Belt-style golf course is situated on 320 acres of land and is a Brian Curley and Fred Couples designed facility.

APEX Motor Club, which just opened phase one, offers car enthusiasts their very own private motor country club. At full build-out, the 280-acre development will include such amenities as two connected racing circuits, numerous garage condominiums for car storage, a clubhouse with restaurant, locker rooms and swimming pool, plus a multi-purpose building and all of the amenities of an exclusive country club in a setting like few others in the country.

For those who take to the skies, Maricopa’s quality of life also offers the Estrella Sailport, hailed as one of the best places in the world to go gliding. This privately owned public-use glider airport is located seven miles west of the central business district of Maricopa.

But for Maricopa, an excellent quality of life is just part of who we are and the promise that we deliver to people and business. An excellent quality of life also means providing the environment for business, economic and professional success.

Just one example of our many successes is Maricopa’s thriving cluster of agritech industries and research facilities, including state universities, federal research centers, and emerging companies utilizing intelligent crop science to produce clean technology products and biofuels.

The U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center and the University of Arizona Maricopa Agricultural Center are two such operations. Researchers at these centers are working to develop new technologies and solutions to problems faced by crop consumers and producers, contributing to making our food supply safer. Partnerships with the private sector have led to the commercialization of innovative agricultural products and have helped launch a number of agritech startups.

Companies seeking a community where business, government, education and citizens value each other and where exceptional prospects for growth abound will find Maricopa, Arizona is such a place. It’s the Maricopa Advantage.

We invite you to learn more about Maricopa and benefit from the Maricopa Advantage—there is an abundance of them! Please visit

This section was written by Adam Saks.


Tucson might be known by its recent attempt to lure Amazon HQ2 with its bold stunt of delivering a giant saguaro cactus to the Seattle headquarters, but there is a whole lot more to know when considering business expansion and relocation to this desert southwest location. Truth be known, Amazon is, in fact, locating an 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center slated to open later this summer in the heart of one of the city’s finest industrial park assets, the Port of Tucson.

Hexagon Mining chose Tucson for its North American headquarters, bringing 140 jobs into the downtown City Park development by Bourn Companies. (Photo: City of Tucson)

Port of Tucson is a 767-acre, privately-run inland port operation with two miles of frontage on Union Pacific’s Sunset Route mainline. This logistics hub is just one mile from Interstate 10 and strategically located just 70 miles from Mexico via the Nogales Port of Entry. The Port of Tucson boasts more than 1.7 million square feet of existing warehouse and distribution space with future expansion capabilities. The advantage of bringing freight directly from Los Angeles ports to Port of Tucson reduces costs and offers easy intermodal opportunities with rail-served properties on site.

Nearby, HomeGoods, a division of TJX Companies, built its distribution facility on 100 acres of undeveloped land near Tucson International Airport. This 850,000-square-foot distribution center opened in late 2016 and employs more than 400 people. There is definitely space in Tucson for large industry.

Speaking of space, Tucson also is quickly becoming known as a leader in the aerospace industry sector. It is true that University of Arizona performs one-sixth of all astronomical research in the United States. In fact, University of Arizona students and scientists have discovered more than half of known near-earth asteroids. In addition, The University of Arizona is busy fabricating what will be the world’s largest telescope, giving Tucson another distinct advantage in the sectors of optics and photonics.

As companies like Raytheon, Bombardier and Aerovation look for talent, they don’t have to go far. Pima Community College was recently appropriated $15 million by the state of Arizona to expand its nationally recognized Aviation Technology Program. The Pima Community College Aviation Center currently is turning out approximately 150 students a year and will be able to train up to 250 students in this expanded program, enlarging the technical talent pipeline in Tucson.

In July, GEICO opened its new regional headquarters in Tucson at The Bridges, an office park development by Tech Parks Arizona. This new home for 1,500 employees was developed by Bourn Companies and will be home to 700 more employees as the company expands its presence in Tucson. (Image: City of Tucson)

In addition, Pima Community College recently created a partnership with other community colleges in the state to adopt a shared curriculum for Automated Industrial Technology (AIT) in order to better serve the manufacturing employers in the Tucson region. Other innovative programs include the college’s partnership with TuSimple, a Tucson-based self-driving truck company, that announced the first-ever autonomous commercial truck driver certificate program in the country. This is a testament to the spirit of innovation that exists in Tucson and a direct reflection of a city that is planning for the future and creating a platform for its business and industry to lead the way.

It is no surprise, then, that the City of Tucson encourages business expansion by its robust local financial incentive programs. Qualifying companies can take advantage of the Primary Jobs Incentive program and other tools such as the Government Property Lease Excise Tax, Global Economic Development District, Water Infrastructure Incentive and Site-Specific Sales Tax Incentives to enhance their business expansion and location decisions. Layer on Opportunity Zones which stretch along the I-10 corridor and cover the rapidly transforming downtown area, and there is a real reason to consider Tucson.

Caterpillar understood what Tucson had to offer when it chose to build a 150,000-square-foot headquarters for its Surface Mining & Technology Division in the city. This new centralized operation for the company is slated to open later this summer and will accommodate more than 700 employees, most of whom will be engineers, product development and support technicians working on the next generation of mining equipment, vehicles and technology. Hexagon Mining followed suit and selected Tucson for its North American headquarters, bringing 140 jobs right into the heart of what is now a very vibrant and socially thriving downtown. The company opened earlier this year in one of Tucson’s newest high-end office developments called City Park by Bourn Companies.

For more information on doing business in Tucson, visit or contact the City of Tucson Office of Economic Development at (520) 837-4069. The time is now for Tucson.


This southeastern Arizona community sits above the valley floor to meet expansive, clear skies with world-class outdoor amenities and business opportunities that stretch across state and international borders. The largest city south and east of Tucson, Sierra Vista is the educational, medical and commercial hub of Southeast Arizona, earning accolades for high-tech opportunities, including cyber security, alternative energy research, conservation technology, medical research and education, and aerospace. A top market for an educated and technical workforce, Sierra Vista is a thriving community with an unparalleled quality of life.

Sierra Vista has always been at the forefront of technology, thanks to the U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca, established in 1877. This installation has more than 50 unique tenant units and missions, including three of the fastest-growing missions in the Department of Defense: cyber security, unmanned aircraft systems and military intelligence. Along with more than 5,000 active- and temporary-duty personnel stationed there, Fort Huachuca employs about 3,500 civilian workers and contracts with many private companies that employ several thousand highly skilled professionals.

Sierra Vista’s airport is adjacent to Libby Army Airfield and is one of only a handful of joint-use municipal-military airfields in the nation. The 12,001-foot runway at Sierra Vista Municipal Airport can accommodate any aircraft and provides opportunity for aerospace projects. Additionally, the protected 964-square-mile restricted airspace serves as the largest unmanned aircraft systems training facility in the world. Top entrepreneurs and defense agencies from across the globe utilize this unique facility to test and evaluate unmanned aircraft systems.

Uncommon ground. In addition to high altitude and aviation opportunities, Sierra Vista is a national leader in environmental programs. The community’s proximity to Arizona’s agricultural industry—along with agronomy programs and professionals—invite agriculture R&D firms. A 25-square-mile Opportunity Zone adjoins the city limits, ensuring access to Sierra Vista’s population, amenities and infrastructure.

Located near the Arizona-Sonora border, international business and travel is streamlined through three ports of entry, all within a 90-minute drive.

Sierra Vista offers business development assistance and professional partnerships throughout the Arizona-Sonora megaregion. Fast track permitting and review, deferred fees, site selection assistance, pre-development meetings, business education and incentives, plus tax exempt securities for manufacturing are just few perks to help businesses stand up quickly and affordably.

Sierra Vista is educated. Sierra Vista’s leading educational opportunities are reflected in the local workforce. More employees hold a high school degree or higher than anywhere else in the country, and more college graduates call Sierra Vista home than anywhere else in Arizona.

Sierra Vista is home to five higher education institutions, including two of Arizona’s state universities, two private universities and Cochise College, named the third-best community college in the nation by Huffington Post.

“With strong support from the Sierra Vista community and our many educational partners, Cochise College is committed to innovation and excellence in education, enhancing the quality of life for the students and communities we serve,” says J.D. Rottweiler, president of Cochise College. “As the community’s college, we strive to provide timely, responsive and flexible programs of study for current, emerging and future employers.”

The University of Arizona Sierra Vista is home to the Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Operations. Certified by the NSA, the U of A program leads the nation, offering an offensive, as well as defensive, education in the fast-growing field of cyber security.

Educational offerings are rounded out with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, located at Fort Huachuca, Wayland Baptist University, and technology education starting as early a middle school, where Sierra Vista students win top state and national awards for energy research and development, robotics and cyber security.

Sierra Vista has a solid reputation as a regional destination for healthcare. Serving the needs of residents in southeast Arizona and northern Sonora, Sierra Vista is home to Canyon Vista Medical Center, a $100 million, 100-bed, Level III trauma facility, and by Chiricahua Community Health Center, a fast-growing primary care organization, as well as myriad private practice specialists and physicians.

Community health here is natural, thanks to clean air and abundant sunshine, the city’s extensive multi-use path system connecting commercial areas with the community’s parks, and easy access to mountain trails. Sierra Vista is as rich with outdoor activities as it is with potential.

In Sierra Vista, people are valued business owners, employees, neighbors and friends. It’s an easy place to live. Short commutes give residents more time to invest in important things—instead of sitting in traffic jams—like exploring Huachuca Mountain trails, attending sports events and connecting with friends and family.

With an average high of 77˚ and an average low of 49˚, Sierra Vista escapes both sweltering heat and winter’s cold. The cool, damp mountain canyons, San Pedro River and places like Kartchner Caverns, state and national parks, award-winning wineries, historic landmarks and wildlife preserves all just a short drive away.

Sierra Vista is a place to soar, whether for a business startup, expansion or relocation. With a highly skilled, ready workforce, available commercial property, bottom line-friendly office space, Sierra Vista is a business-ready community in Southeastern Arizona’s sky islands. Far enough from the beaten path for an affordable and relaxing lifestyle, the four-seasons, temperate climate and stunning outdoors make Sierra Vista, Arizona a great place to be extraordinary.


Boasting a population of more than 500,000, Mesa is the 35th largest city in the United States and second largest in the Phoenix-Mesa metro area. Larger than Miami and Atlanta, Mesa is home to major operations for companies such as Apple, Boeing, Waymo, AT&T, Cognizant, Northrop Grumman, Bridgestone, FUJIFILM, Mitsubishi, Textron and Infineon. Today, Mesa continues to build upon its reputation for attracting and growing cutting-edge technology companies and advanced manufacturers.

June 2019, Times Microwave Systems held the grand opening of its newly expanded 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. (Photo: Times Microwave Systems)

Fostering entrepreneurship and cultivating new technologies is a key focus for Mesa as the City leverages its position as a premier innovation district.

Arizona State University, which already houses its polytechnic campus in southeast Mesa, is expanding its campus to Downtown Mesa with a $63.5 million facility that will deliver technology-focused programs utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 3D design. These programs will greatly impact industries such as medical, aerospace, manufacturing and entertainment.

In addition, Downtown Mesa is home to LaunchPoint, the City’s technology accelerator, which is driving tremendous success with its participating tech companies.

Recent LaunchPoint success stories include Urbix Resources, which has raised more than $3.5 million in funding and is expanding to a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility to further the commercialization of its graphite technology. Another success story includes GT Medical Technologies, which has recently expanded and received FDA approval for their medical device technology and an additional $10 million of series A funding. Visit

Arizona is ranked a top four state for Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness by PwC and Mesa has played an integral role in that ranking. Mesa has long been an established hub for aerospace and defense companies such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Textron, MD Helicopters, Embraer and Nammo Talley. Today, the sector continues to grow in Mesa. Over the last two years, new additions include AQST Space Systems, Constant Aviation, Aerocircular, Times Microwave and Amphenol.

In December 2018, Able Aerospace Systems (a Textron Aviation company) broke ground on a 50,000-square-foot expansion of its current operation at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. When completed, the expansion will be home to as many as 100 new skilled aerospace employees. Visit

Mesa’s Elliot Road Technology Corridor is home to Apple’s 1.3 million-square-foot global command center and EdgeCore’s 200,000-square-foot, phase-one building—the beginning of EdgeCore’s forthcoming 1.25-million-square-foot data center campus. In addition, large data center campus projects are in the works for Google, CyrusOne, Digital Realty, EdgeConneX and one yet to be announced company.

Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Center (Photo: City of Mesa)

With more than 1,000 acres of shovel-ready land, streamlined entitlements and robust infrastructure in place, the Elliot Road Technology Corridor continues to garner national attention from technology companies in the market to build large high-tech campuses. Visit

Mesa has long been a compelling location for advanced manufacturing, attracting and growing companies that utilize state-of-the-art technologies.

Over the last year, many of Mesa’s larger manufacturers have made major expansions such as CMC Steel, Time Microwave Systems, Fujifilm and Able Aerospace. Furthermore, new manufacturers such as Print.Save.Repeat and Piper Plastics have located to Mesa. Mesa is meeting the needs of these expansions and locates with the construction of new speculative industrial space.

Since January 2018, more than 30 industrial buildings, consisting of nearly 2.5 million square feet, have been constructed, are under construction or are currently in the entitlement process in the City of Mesa. Many of these projects are in Mesa’s Opportunity Zones.

The federal Opportunity Zones program, which enables investors to defer and discount capital gains tax owed should they invest in a qualified Opportunity Fund, has driven much of the interest in industrial speculative space in Mesa. Eleven census tracts in Mesa have been designated as Opportunity Zones, further incentive for companies and developers to invest in Mesa. Visit

Two new and significant office projects have recently been announced—Union and Gallery Park.

Union will include four buildings ranging from four to eight stories and from 225,000 to 450,000 square feet on 28.2 acres of city-owned land. When complete, the project will total 1.35 million square feet of Class A office space.

Announced in late 2018, Gallery Park is a more than 1-million-square-foot, mixed-use project located northwest of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. At full build-out, Gallery Park will include approximately 400,000 square feet of Class A office space, two hotels, 420 luxury apartment units and condos situated above restaurant and retail space, as well as a possible movie theater and other entertainment options. Gallery Park is expected to be home to more than 3,000 employees and residents when finished.

The Phoenix-Mesa metro area has a large workforce of more than 2.2 million. Moreover, the region’s more than 40 universities and institutions of higher learning are serving up a pipeline of highly-skilled and tech-savvy talent.

Arizona State University (ASU) is one of the nation’s largest public research universities with a student population of nearly 90,000. ASU is ranked the number one most innovative university in the U.S. ahead of Stanford, MIT and Harvard according to U.S. News & World Report. Furthermore, ASU has more than 21,000 engineering students enrolled in the nation’s largest engineering school, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering with six interdisciplinary schools, 25 undergraduate programs, 39 graduate programs and the top additive manufacturing facility in the Southwest.

The Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AzAMI) provides a pipeline of skilled, career-educated and ready-to-work employees to help Arizona business and industry partners stay competitive.

Mesa is well poised to continue to grow its position as a center for innovation and technology. To learn more about Mesa, visit