The Arizona Technology Council, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, today announced their selections for the 2022 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation (GCOI) Outstanding Technology Senator of the Year, Outstanding Technology Representative of the Year and top Tech 10 Champion Legislators in recognition of their roles in advancing technology in Arizona. The winning legislators will be honored at GCOI on Tuesday, November 8 from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. Third St., West Building, Third Floor.
“The Arizona Technology Council and our state’s technology community work closely with the state Legislature to pass legislation that empowers our innovation ecosystem and economy,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Council and SciTech Institute. “The senators and representatives on this list play a pivotal role in helping the Council and its members grow Arizona’s technology industry, educate our future STEM leaders and cut the red tape to innovation. We thank them for their service.”
“We are honored to recognize this distinguished group of legislators who are advocating for the future of technology in Arizona,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Their steadfast efforts continue to strengthen Arizona’s technology industry while highlighting our attractiveness as a national destination for innovation. We are grateful for their collective efforts to enhance and expand Arizona’s technology landscape.”
Arizona’s most prestigious business leaders will celebrate the state’s technology innovation and leadership during GCOI, which will include an awards ceremony, networking, and food. The event will consist of a strolling dinner and Tech Showcase followed by a theatre-style awards program. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online at https://www.aztechcouncil.org/
The winners of the 2022 GCOI legislator awards and their current districts are:
Outstanding Technology Senator of the Year:
Sen. TJ Shope, District 8
Senator TJ Shope has been a longtime champion for the technology industry, especially in advocating for technology companies to bring opportunities to his district and supporting proven economic development programs that have high returns on investment for the state. His determination has paid dividends for his district and beyond, with the expansion of the area attracting several technology companies and bringing high-quality jobs. He has also been a strong advocate for transportation infrastructure and the impact it has on Arizona’s ability to meet companies’ transportation needs. Shope helped secure funding for the expansion of Interstate 10 and continues to work towards meeting Arizona’s long-term infrastructure needs.
Outstanding Technology Representative of the Year:
Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, District 17
Representative Jennifer Pawlik has repeatedly helped ensure the passage of the Council’s key legislative priorities. While education is her top priority, she also understands the impact of proven incentives to not only her district but also the entire Arizona economy. During her time at the Legislature, she has been instrumental in helping advocate for policies that attract and grow technology companies that bring high-paying, high-quality jobs to not just her district but also the state, resulting in more dollars to help better fund education and other state priorities. She has been a strong advocate for additional education dollars and worked to stop policies that make it harder to educate Arizona’s youth.
Tech 10 Legislators:
Sen. Sean Bowie, District 18
Senator Sean Bowie has been a champion for the technology industry since he was first elected. He has helped advance initiatives crucial for Arizona becoming a technology hub. His support of innovative and proven economic development programs and his commitment to workforce development, community colleges and higher education have helped the technology and business community thrive in Arizona. He works across party lines to ensure he can best serve his district and the state. This session, he was crucial to the passage of Council priorities around education.
Senate Assistant Minority Leader Lupe Contreras, District 19
Senator Lupe Contreras has been a strong leader in his caucus for many years. He is a great advocate for education, business and his community. He works hard to ensure every voice is heard and has long been a supporter of the technology agenda, working to ensure issues were judged based on the merits of the programs instead of just politics. He is careful to take a balanced approach of protecting citizens and encouraging economic development. He worked with his caucus this session to advance proven economic development programs while still maintaining focus on funding for education, housing and other caucus priorities.
Senate President Karen Fann, District 1
President Karen Fann has been a champion of the technology industry during her entire tenure as a legislator and continues to be in her final legislative session by sponsoring an expansion on the Research and Development (R&D) tax credit program. Although the priority did not cross the finish line this year, she fought to allow companies to utilize unused R&D tax credits in an innovative way that would have resulted in reinvestment in areas such as workforce development and water sustainability. She has always supported creating an environment in Arizona where the technology industry can grow and thrive.
Sen. David Gowan, District 14
Senator David Gowan has always been an advocate for a balanced budget that includes the needed incentives to attract and retain both businesses and their needed workforce. He has been instrumental in advocating for and helping to pass several economic development proposals that show to have high return on investment for Arizona. This year was no different. Gowan has taken a thoughtful approach to his position as appropriations chair and was helpful in ensuring opportunities for other key economic development tools essential to the growth of the technology industry this legislative session.
Sen. Sine Kerr, District 13
Senator Sine Kerr has been a champion for rural Arizona during her tenure at the Legislature. As chair of the Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee, she is regularly helping to lead the charge on different areas of importance for economic development. Water is and will continue to be a huge area of concern with Arizona’s growth. She was also a huge advocate for the Council’s priority STEM legislation to help create a STEM ecosystem throughout the state, bringing best practices and STEM opportunities to more rural and urban areas of Arizona.
Rep. David Cook, District 8
Representative David Cook has proven to be a strong advocate fighting for the needs of rural Arizona. During his tenure in the House, he has been a supporter of workforce development and education, especially STEM in rural Arizona and key issues such as water. He has been a supporter of key Council priorities and has advocated to ensure more economic development programs and resources focused for rural Arizona, working hard to bring high-quality, high-paying jobs to his district. He also advocated to ensure a conservative legislative budget including paying down state debt to ensure the best financial standing for the state in the future in case of a recession while still balancing the need to fund state priorities.
Rep. Diego Espinoza, District 19
Representative Diego Espinoza has been a strong leader in his caucus during his tenure, fighting for his constituents and working across the aisle to push initiatives forward. As a small business owner, he understands the effects of regulation and taxation, as well as the challenges businesses and communities have faced over the past couple years due to the pandemic. He has supported key policies that have helped the technology industry flourish over the years while ensuring that businesses are also good community partners. He advocates behind the scenes to help ensure the passage of sound policy and the defeat of harmful legislation.
Rep. Joel John, District 4
Representative Joel John has been a champion of the Council’s, sponsoring our STEM ecosystem proposal and supporting several priorities to ensure quality jobs are available in his district. Education has been his main focus at the Legislature, and he has been a fierce advocate of increasing funding in the public school system. He has also been helpful in stopping legislation that would have unintended negative consequences for Arizona’s students. Ensuring all students have access to high-quality education that leads to high-paying jobs and career opportunities were his top priorities.
Rep. Steve Kaiser, District 15
Representative Steve Kaiser is a conservative veteran who has proven himself to be a strong advocate for workforce development during his first term in the Legislature. He has been a champion for STEM education, sponsoring several pieces of legislation and leading advocacy efforts for restoring STEM community college funding. He has also focused on career and technical education (CTE) legislation, being one of the legislators leading the charge on fourth year CTE funding and innovative programs to ensure access to adult education. Kaiser has proven himself to be a thoughtful legislator who embraces innovation to solve some of the state’s challenges.
Rep. Justin Wilmeth, District 15
Representative Justin Wilmeth has proven himself to be a rising star during his first term as a pro-business, pro-technology conservative. He has been an advocate for and supported policies to ensure Arizona advances innovation, such as sponsoring legislation on the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Study. He also is a huge advocate for trade and has championed securing funding for trade offices with key trading partners for Arizona and ensuring international commerce continues to flow through our state. Wilmeth fights for his constituents by making sure proposals bring high quality jobs to the state and any economic development programs have high returns on investment to ensure the state can pay for top priorities while continuing to keep taxes low.
Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.