The summer of 2021 is leading the record books for businesses relocating to Arizona, including semiconductor manufacturers, electric car makers and many other tech companies. While most relocations and expansions are happening in the Valley, Northern Arizona is also attracting companies.
In east Flagstaff, the large former Walgreens distribution is being remodeled by UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries. The company specializes in electric car components for manufacturers including Tesla and Lucid Motors, which recently chose to expand on a 500-acre property in Casa Grande, south of Phoenix.
“Arizona is now a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing,” said Gail Jackson, president and CEO of the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA). “Once they are through their five-year plan, UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries will be the largest new employer since the 1970s.” The company’s plans include building a new Flagstaff facility and hiring more than 300 people.
The state has come quite a distance from being one of the hardest hit during the Great Recession, said Patrick Ptak of the Arizona Commerce Authority. The senior vice president of executive initiatives said that after 300,000 jobs were lost and $3 million in state revenues dried up, state leaders realized the urgent need for economic diversification. The Arizona Commerce Authority was then created, with the focus on attracting high value industries like aerospace, defense, biopharma and technology.
A decade after ACA’s inception, new business construction and renovations are underway across the state, said Ptak. “Arizona offers the complete package, with a highly skilled and growing workforce, low-cost business environment, affordable and reliable energy, and proximity to some of the biggest markets a day’s drive away.”
Ptak said these changes in what he calls Arizona’s robust innovation ecosystem will likely continue because tech companies want to be near other pioneers. Major companies like Intel, Raytheon, Benchmark Electronics and numerous others are driving these advancements in the state, he added, along with Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona.
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