Innovation Is Thriving In Arizona

The Grand Canyon State has a robust ecosystem that attracts early-stage entrepreneurs and tech-savvy talent to a wide range of growth sectors.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2017 Issue

Arizona knows that attracting great minds is easy when you give them the tools and support they need to go faster and further than ever before. Arizona is home to a surging ecosystem of global giants, early stage entrepreneurs and tech-savvy Millennial talent who are breaking new ground across a wide range of industry growth sectors. What’s more, Arizona offers a robust portfolio of programs and resources supporting both large and emerging tech employers.

P83 Innovation Center campus conceptual renderings. (City of Peoria)

The state’s rich startup culture continues to thrive and is a preferred choice for technology companies seeking growth. Leading startups such as Infusionsoft, GoDaddy, ZocDoc, Weebly and Zenefits have collectively taken advantage of Arizona’s high-skills talent base. Feeding this worker pipeline is Arizona’s university system that produces in-demand graduates specializing in technology and innovation that can quickly make an impact on these growing businesses.

Arizona’s solid reputation and assertive stance on innovation led Fast Company to rank Arizona No. 1 in the country for “entrepreneurial activity”, attracting even more of the nation’s—and world’s—big thinkers.

Arizona offers one of the lowest costs of doing business in the United States, primarily because of low taxes and small state government. While the national average of per-capita income going to taxes is 9.9 percent, here the number is only 8.4 percent. In addition, Arizona’s taxes on property, gas and personal income remain low compared to the rest of the country.


Boasting a population of nearly 500,000, Mesa is the 36th 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, Bridgestone, FUJIFILM, Mitsubishi, and Infineon. Recently, the metro area was ranked second in the nation for its tech sector job growth by CBRE.

With more than 1,200 aerospace and defense companies in Arizona, it is easy to understand why PriceWaterhouseCoopers ranked Arizona number one for aerospace manufacturing attractiveness. In fact, the Arizona/Sonora, Mexico region makes up the fourth-largest aerospace supply chain in the world and the largest in North America.

In Mesa, Boeing employs more than 3,700 people at its 2-million-square-foot facility to build Apache attack helicopters for the U.S. Army and other foreign militaries. Boeing will add hundreds of additional employees to its Mesa operations as it moves some of its internal services from Seattle. The facility also produces electric and composite products and is the primary global services and support center for Boeing’s rotorcraft.

Across the street is the global headquarters for the major rotorcraft manufacturer, MD Helicopters, which builds high-performance helicopters for both civilian and military use worldwide.

Textron Aviation operations of Able Aerospace and Cessna/Citation also call Mesa home, along with other international players including Orbital ATK, Embraer, Nammo Talley, Lockheed Martin, AeroMaritime and Heliponents, among others.

Mesa is an important player in the medical device sector with companies such as Ulthera (a Merz company), Auer Precision, EyeTech Systems, Banner Simulation Center, Paragon Vision Sciences, Ardent Sound, and many others.

The most recent addition to Mesa’s medical device cluster is Dexcom, a leader in continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for patients with diabetes. The company recently built out a 216,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Mesa, which will create more than 500 jobs.

Mesa has one of the nation’s most unique cybersecurity assets—Arizona Laboratory for Security and Defense Research (AZLabs). After leasing the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory for several years, the City purchased the facility in 2014, renamed it, and retained its high security protocols. Today, the facility is certified at the highest level of cybersecurity and is host to the Arizona Cyber Warfare Range, and other companies conducting highly sensitive projects, research, and cybersecurity activities. AZLabs is located adjacent to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport making it a strategic location for unmanned and autonomous vehicle research and operations.

In 2015, Apple decided to put its $2 billion, 1.3-million-square-foot global command center in Mesa’s Elliot Road Technology Corridor; a key factor was the Corridor’s robust infrastructure. The Corridor has significant power, water and wastewater; lit and dark fiber; natural gas; more than a thousand acres of shovel-ready land; and the City offers an expedited entitlement process. In addition, Mesa has been ranked the nation’s safest location from natural disaster, making it ideal for data centers.

Mesa is home to large facilities for Infineon, a Germany-based world leader in semiconductor solutions; FUJIFILM Electronic Materials and Mitsubishi Gas Chemicals, manufacturers of products used in the production of semiconductors; and many other high-tech manufacturers.

Phoenix-Mesa metro boasts a workforce of more than 2.2 million. Moreover, The Phoenix East Valley region, anchored by Mesa, has a much higher educational attainment rate than the national average. Furthermore, Arizona is a right-to-work state with a very low unionization rate, one of the lowest unemployment insurance tax rates in the nation, and workers compensations rates that are much lower than the national average.

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Arizona State University (ASU) as the nation’s most innovative school for the second year in a row.

ASU Polytechnic campus, located in Mesa, serves as host to the Southwest’s largest 3-D printing research facility with more than $2 million in cutting-edge plastic, polymer, and metal 3-D printing equipment and advanced processing and analysis capabilities. Honeywell Aerospace is a partner in the venture.

Mesa has invested significantly in infrastructure, especially in dark and lit fiber and underground conduit well-suited to technology companies needing robust connectivity such as Apple’s new global command center and Santander Consumer USA’s back-office operation. To learn more, visit


From its stunning topography to diverse workforce, Peoria Arizona is becoming an increasingly popular place to live, work and invest. Peoria is in a unique position. It is a growing city with a thriving business community, a high-quality workforce, premier sites for investors and developers, as well as opportunities for public-private partnerships. Peoria is developing its economy to compete for local, national and global business. With a supportive mayor and highly involved city council driving the economic development strategies, Peoria’s leaders are not only taking control of their future, they are creating it.

Currently, Peoria has three dynamic, shovel-ready sites in highly sought-after areas of the city.

Vistancia Commercial Core:

  • 320-acres in the affluent, growing community of Vistancia
  • Zoned mixed-use/commercial
  • Adjacent to Loop 303 and within minutes of Lake Pleasant and other area amenities
  • Build-to-suit corporate campus or advanced manufacturing options available
  • Available infrastructure and utilities
  • Located in an amenity-rich area with high-quality housing choices and top performing schools
  • Strong workforce within a 45 minute commute zone

Peoria Innovation Center in P83:

  • 17-acre innovation center project in the heart of P83, Peoria’s premier entertainment district
  • Build to suit retail/restaurant pads and Class A office development opportunities
  • Adjacent to San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners spring training facility
  • Exceptional access, infrastructure and walkable amenities
  • More than 2 million square feet of retail and restaurants within 3-mile radius
  • City will construct parking structures and provide ample surface parking
  • Strong workforce within a 30 minute commute zone

Peoria 101 Office Park:

  • 14-acre business park site located on the SWC of Peoria Avenue and the Loop 101 freeway
  • Zoned mixed-use/commercial
  • Options for build-to-suit “Class B” office product
  • All utilities are adjacent to the site
  • Strong workforce within a 30 minute commute zone

Adopting an aggressive strategy has allowed the City to attract smart people and smart businesses to the area. Additionally, Peoria by far is a low cost option for both business and workforce attraction when compared to Austin and Dallas Texas, Denver Colorado, Salt Lake City Utah, San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles California.

Having an available, high-quality workforce is essential in today’s competitive business environment. Peoria has an abundant, educated workforce within a 30 minute drive from most major employment centers in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The average professional in and around Peoria is young, approximately 35 years old, with a college degree. With many more working years left, these entrepreneurs and professionals dominate today’s workforce. A strong and talented workforce makes the relocation and/or expansion decision easier for investors and businesses that are ready to make a smart move.

Peoria recently was ranked number seven on America’s 50 Best Cities to Live list from Yahoo Finance, and for good reason. With more than 300 days of sunshine, excellent schools, indoor and outdoor amenities, Peoria is a great destination in the Valley of the Sun. Home to one of Arizona’s largest lakes, beautiful parks and more than 25 miles of hiking trails throughout the city, Peoria offers many outdoor recreational opportunities. Peoria also boasts exceptional arts and cultural amenities, breathtaking golf courses and the P83 Sports Entertainment District, which is the spring training home to the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.

When you are ready to invest, Peoria will provide a dedicated, in-house team for quick and consistent plan review, permitting and inspection. By providing a team approach, we are able to establish realistic schedules and timeframes to meet your deadlines, which are critical to the success of your project. Also available for the right project is Peoria’s Priority Track Processing Policy, which moves plan reviews and permitting to “the front of the line” at no cost. For more info, visit