By Tab Wearing, Engagement Manager, HATech
A year ago, HATech opened an office in downtown Tempe, joining 40+ other businesses relocating to Greater Phoenix – representing a total $1.18 billion in capital investment and creation of 8,606 total jobs. (My husband and I and our three kiddos moved here as well – doing our small part to make Phoenix the fastest growing city in the nation.)
We moved here for exactly the reasons that Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, articulated last week at the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation when she talked about people relocating to Arizona – this “place where they can achieve personal and professional goals thanks to a thriving economy and exceptional quality of life.”
Governor Doug Ducey echoed the sentiment, saying, “People coming here are finding the best place to pioneer new technologies, world-class healthcare and education, and the opportunity to start a business from scratch and turn it into a worldwide enterprise.” That’s why we’re here.
“The best place to pioneer new technologies. World-class education. A place where we can achieve personal and professional goals. That’s Arizona – and it’s why we’re here.”
It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate HATech’s one-year Arizona anniversary than as a sponsor of the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation. It was our honor to be included in one of the most prestigious tech events of the year, celebrating the innovation that Arizona has to offer and recognizing those finalists who made the cut – especially as a couple were customers of ours!
We enjoyed meeting new friends racing around the slot car track at our booth, which was a great showcase of why we do what we do: Sometimes, it takes an expert to guide you around those tricky curves, so you can go fast and not crash.
Reflecting on the event, we’ve realized exactly why opening an office in Arizona was such a good decision. It’s about innovation, and…
Kicking off the awards presentation, AZ Tech Council President and CEO Steve Zylstra shared highlights from the latest Arizona Technology Council Industry Impact Report: the state has a 40% higher job growth rate in the technology sector than the U.S. overall, with wages 20% higher than the national average. Nearly a third of AZ STEM post-secondary graduates stay in the state to work.
Governor Ducey shared additional stats showcasing the robustness of the tech sector in Arizona – and the momentum behind the innovation happening here. Job growth in manufacturing is the strongest it’s been in 30 years, and there are now more people employed in manufacturing than in construction. Arizona ranks #2 in the nation for job growth in bioscience and healthcare, #2 for attracting and retaining top talent across sectors, and #4 for economic momentum. Since 2015, Arizona has added more than 300,000 private sector jobs.
Beyond the numbers, the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation really showcased the truly innovative work being done by companies here – work that will benefit people every day. Two companies that stick out in my mind are AgJunction and AdviNOW.
Winner of the large company innovator of the year award, AgJunction has pioneered development of low-cost, easy-to-install autosteering solutions that are accessible to millions of farmers. A finalist for the small company innovator of the year award, AdviNOW Medical uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to completely automate the medical encounter for the patient and provider.
“The Governor’s Celebration of Innovation really showcased the truly innovative work being done by companies here – work that will benefits people’s lives every day.”
Innovation across the aisle
My family and I lived for seven years in Las Vegas before moving to Phoenix but before that we lived in the United Kingdom, where we always looked at American politics as a rather strange sort of beast. (Brexit has turned the tables, we know.) Having become somewhat used to the incessant political wrangling that so often characterizes any gathering, I was struck by how devoid of politics GCOI was.
The Governor wasn’t trying to credit himself or his party for the amazing innovation he spoke about. No one even mentioned the political affiliation of the two legislative award winners or the Tech 10 legislators. It was truly this community coming together and celebrating innovation. I bet that lack of political credit-taking is a big factor in why Arizona is so innovative – because everyone’s working together for the good of the state, its businesses, and its residents.
That kind of ‘get it done’ attitude was something HATech’s founder, Jon Hathaway, noticed when he first started visiting Phoenix regularly to meet with what was then a new large enterprise client here. “There wasn’t this me-first kind of attitude I had seen in so many places,” Jon said. “It was ‘we have a common goal, let’s work together to make it happen.’”
Sounds like we’ll see even more of that. In his opening address, Steve Zylstra talked about how one of the Tech Council’s 2020 legislative priorities is a statewide STEM ecosystem to bridge, integrate, and strengthen the learning opportunities offered by organizations across sectors. The goal, he said, is to provide business and education opportunities to communities across AZ and ultimately support a diverse talent pipeline ready to meet the state’s expected growth.
“In AZ, there isn’t the me-first kind of attitude I had seen in so many places. The attitude is, ‘we have a common goal, let’s work together to make it happen.”
~ HATech founder & CEO Jon Hathaway
An innovation ecosystem
Probably the factors that create an environment of ‘let’s work together to make amazing things happen’ rather than one of ‘let’s get ourselves as much credit as possible’ are the same kinds of factors that support a true ecosystem of innovation in Arizona. Steve Zylstra talked about the “heritage” of innovation in the state, citing such legacy luminaries as Honeywell, IBM, and Intel as well as relative newcomers Axon, WebPT, and PADT.
“The common threads between these companies, and the many others,” Steve said, “are their embrace of disruption and deep Arizona roots.” And all are members of the Arizona Technology Council. “Innovation is an everyday occurrence among our membership. These are companies every day finding new ways to make a difference in their respective industries. When you talk about innovation in Arizona, the Council is right in the middle of it all.”
We couldn’t agree more. Our experience over the past year is that the dynamics of doing business in Greater Phoenix are ever changing. There is always something fresh and new happening. New tech startups are popping up in the coolest areas of town. There are always new opportunities to work with enterprises that are more established in the larger suburbs but are still innovating. That’s the crux of Greater Phoenix: it’s organic. It moves and thrives with maturity and a dash of fun, with plenty of opportunities for learning, growing, and networking.
The Arizona Technology Council plays an integral role in all of that. A lot of this ‘togetherness’ can be attributed to the many organizations, like AZTC, providing platforms by which businesses can share ideas, success stories, and lessons learned. They encourage even the most unlikely of connections, which then grow into opportunities. One of our first such experiences here – courtesy of the Tech Council – was being invited to talk on Phoenix Business RadioX. Being treated as a guest and given the opportunity to just talk about the business, what makes us different and sets us apart from our competitors was an amazing experience.
So yes, innovation is thriving here in Arizona. But it’s more than that. It’s diverse innovation thriving across the tech industry. It’s nonpartisan innovation thriving across the political spectrum. It’s innovation happening on the foundation of a tech ecosystem built and maintained by organizations like the Tech Council.
Indeed, to paraphrase Governor Ducey, these are accomplishments that are worthy of serious celebration.
HATech, a full-service DevOps transformation firm, helps clients develop and nurture the cultural, mindset, and organizational approach that enables them to develop, release, maintain, support, and iterate quickly and reliably. Over the course of more than 20,000 collective consulting hours and counting, HATech enables companies from startups to enterprises to move fast and not break things. With offices in Phoenix and Las Vegas, HATech serves clients throughout the U.S. Discover more at hatech.io