The recent news that Intel is adding two semiconductor manufacturing facilities to its Ocotillo campus in Chandler was nothing short of spectacular: an expansion valued at $20 billion that will create more than 3,000 permanent high-wage positions, approximately 3,000 construction jobs and about 15,000 jobs indirectly when the project is completed.
The announcement may have prompted some outsiders to do a double-take and ask, “Why Arizona?” I say, why not Arizona?
A big reason advanced manufacturing is at home here is the size of the welcome mat that extends all the way to the Office of the Governor. Remember when Gov. Doug Ducey invited autonomous automakers to Arizona and use our roads as their labs? That is just one example of how he is behind the industry. Add to that the efforts of the Arizona Commerce Authority and Sandra Watson, its president and CEO. When it comes to business development, her team has no equal.
I’m proud to say that the Arizona Technology Council also has helped create such an inviting business climate. From our efforts in public policy to the actions of our members, we join Ducey and Watson in saying that Arizona is very much open for business.
These players are key to why others beyond our borders are catching on to what is happening here. You’ve seen the headlines about the rising cost of doing business in other states and even countries becoming the last straw for some companies. Moving to a more affordable Arizona lets these enterprises do what they do best without bracing for heavy expenses.
And despite a rough time early in the pandemic, the Arizona supply chains these manufacturers depend on recovered by the end of 2020. Whether just-in-time or made-to-order, these companies get what they need when they need it.
When it’s quitting time, employees are drawn to a high standard of living at an affordable cost. And who can ignore the weather? In a recent interview with TechConnect, the Council’s magazine, Chris Keeler, director of programs at Northrop Grumman’s Gilbert Campus, cited the Sonoran desert as one of the draws when attracting talent for the company’s satellite manufacturing teams.
Keeler’s campus joins the chip makers cited earlier with expansions underway. They are part of a trend that underscores the growth in advanced manufacturing. According to the GPEC report, 238 manufacturing operations relocated or expanded to Greater Phoenix during the decade ending in 2019, with 38% occurring just in 2018 and 2019. While the focus in tech news seems to perpetually include California and Texas, you might be surprised to the know those were the top two states of origination when it came to the relocations.
But then again, it may not be such a surprise. You already figured out something that’s new to these arrivals: Arizona is the place to be.
Steve Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council.
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