Growing in the Sun

The fastest-growing workforce in the nation also happens to be one of the best-trained and best-educated, helping to make Arizona a first-tier choice for expanding companies.

It may be true that when companies establish themselves in a community and call for employees, the workforce grows in response. It also works the other way around, as anyone operating a business in the state of Arizona can tell you. Arizona has the nation’s fastest-growing workforce, and for that reason has been a magnet for growing companies in search of a new location.

That’s far from the only reason, however. An outstanding university and community college system in Arizona ensures that the ever-growing workforce has the skills it needs to keep your company competitive. Businesses also like Arizona’s secure operating environment, notable for the absence of catastrophic weather and seismic activity. Strong infrastructure assets, attractive operating costs, and a stable, pro-business climate also are an important part of the value Arizona is able to deliver to industry.

For those intrigued by Arizona and curious about possible business locations within the state, Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and the Arizona Department of Commerce have launched a free Web-based tool to support businesses exploring Arizona as a relocation or expansion site. Called “Arizona Prospector,” the online application (try it at directly aids businesses by providing core data and available commercial, industrial, and retail properties, as well as workforce demographics, interactive maps, and other business information. This is made possible by the use of online, real-time data, which allows quick, up-to-date searches of available sites and their characteristics. Users can also narrow down locations that meet their specific needs.

“Arizona Prospector answers all the general questions businesses want to know in minutes,” says Jan Lesher, director, Arizona Department of Commerce. “It’s essentially a business portal that promotes Arizona as a premier location for business location or expansion. The site encourages large economic development projects, but also allows small businesses access to the same information previously available primarily to larger companies with greater resources.”

Today, research shows that 80% of initial site selection screening is done through the Internet. “The wave of the future is here,” says Lesher. “The bottom line is this Web site tool delivers quickly and effectively.”

APS continues to build infrastructure to meet the needs of Arizona, now the fastest-growing state in the U.S. Statewide, APS will serve 40% more customers by 2015 than it does today. As a result of the growth, APS is investing upward of $15 billion over the next decade in new facilities.

David Bentler, manager of APS’ Economic and Community Development department, says APS is committed to growing a healthy economy. “Quality growth of the business sector benefits all Arizonans and can help us build a better tomorrow,” he says. “We think Arizona Prospector can help us contribute to that future.”

Bentler says users seem to especially like setting their own search criteria for the properties and that Arizona Prospector provides timely, easy-to-use information. “I think this is key to its usability. It used to take months to gather business and market intelligence about properties and any state—all that’s changed with the launch of Arizona Prospector.”

Arizona cities already using the site include Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Yuma, and Flagstaff.

APS is Arizona’s largest electric utility, and last year was recognized by Arizona Business Magazine as one of the “Economic Engines of Arizona” for its successful efforts in attracting new business. “Many recipients [of the awards] were focused on a specific town or area, but APS was one of the few encouraging growth everywhere,” says Greg Sexton, editor-in-chief of the 21-year-old publication. “It was clear that APS had to be one of the award winners.”