Armed with both public- and private-sector leadership and a clear mission focused on the quality as well as quantity of new jobs, the ACA set out to fundamentally change Arizona’s economic landscape.
In the years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, Arizona’s economy blossomed, at least on the surface. A flood of new home and construction projects boosted job and revenue numbers to new heights. In 2009, Arizona residents experienced more than 160,000 foreclosures, the third highest in the nation.
As state and local leaders acted to stem the fallout, some around the state gave thought to addressing the fundamental deficiencies in Arizona’s economic approach. At the urging of Governor Jan Brewer, individuals from government, business, universities and more convened to develop a long-term strategy that would enable Arizona to lead and prepare against future downtowns, not just react to them.
The effort was spearheaded by a group of business and government leaders — appointed by former Governor Brewer — who would make up the Governor’s Commerce Advisory Council. Governor Brewer tapped JDM Partner and international sports executive Jerry Colangelo to lead the Council. The Council got to work, studying best practices around the country and world, speaking with Arizona thought leaders from around the state, and reviewing the current economic model then represented by the Arizona Department of Commerce.
Over a period of four months, the Commerce Advisory Council engaged more than 320 Arizona leaders through focus groups and stakeholder meetings. Through this process, the Commerce Advisory Council developed a blueprint for a new economic agency that is unique to Arizona.
“Governor Brewer and others at the time took a very thoughtful and deliberate approach,” said Roy Vallee, former chairman and CEO of Avnet and a member of the eight-member council. “And through this iterative process, we came up with a recommendation to the governor, which was to create what is now the Arizona Commerce Authority.”
The new Arizona Commerce Authority would be designed to excel where the previous department fell short. Instead of being weighed down by unwieldy mandates, the new agency would be equipped with the flexibility and resources to respond quickly to job creation opportunities. Instead of a focus diluted with unrelated responsibilities, the agency would be infused with a clear, forward-thinking mission to improve the state for business and innovation. And it would be overseen by the best minds in the private sector.
Governor Brewer signed the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) into law on February 17, 2011. She appointed Don Cardon, a businessman with a long record serving in both the public and private sectors, as the agency’s first president and CEO.
In addition, the legislation enacted a suite of economic and financial tools, known as the Arizona Competitiveness Package, that included targeted business incentives to be overseen by the ACA and broad tax reforms that would enable the state to compete nationally.
VISIT HERE to view the Greater Phoenix InBusiness special feature on the Arizona Commerce Authority.
Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/tech-events to view all of the Council’s upcoming virtual tech networking opportunities, engaging virtual tech events and in-person tech events.