From its inception, the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has been guided by some of the best minds in private industry, the legislature and state universities. This unique collaboration has been one of the chief strengths of the ACA, and the work of the last 10 years would not be possible without the time, leadership and dedication of many individuals.
This episode of AZTechCast features three members of the ACA’s leadership team: Andy Lombard, EVP of Innovation and Venture Development; Jena Coolidge McGovern, SVP of Marketing and Communications; and Chief Innovation Officer Brian Sherman. These dedicated leaders are ushering in a new era of economic development — the passionate pursuit of business, the creation of jobs and the stimulation of the economy to benefit all of Arizona.
Moderated by Phoenix Business RadioX, a distinguished panel of business leaders from the Arizona Commerce Authority will join Arizona Technology Council CEO Steve Zylstra to discuss how this successful agency has evolved over the last 10 years, the monumental success it has achieved to improve the state for business and innovation, and the future of economic development in Arizona.
Kicking off the conversation, the group shed light on how the ACA’s efforts have helped Arizona to strengthen the state’s economy and helped Arizona to better compete on an international scale.
“Ten years ago, Arizona was floundering under the great recession,” said Jena Coolidge McGovern. “At the time, tourism and construction were the main industries in Arizona. The state is now much more diversified through a clear vision to attract high-way, high-value, next-gen industry sectors like electric vehicles, additive manufacturing and others.”
McGovern added, “In addition, Arizona now has three trade offices in Mexico and one in Israel, and Arizona exports in 2019 exceeded $29 billion. Without a doubt, the state’s low-cost environment, abundant and reliable energy, modern infrastructure and thriving tech ecosystem have all contributed to making Arizona a great value proposition for startups, growing companies and next-gen sectors.”
“The ACA has transformed the local economy,” said Steve Zylstra, CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “What I really like about the ACA is the focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. The programs created by the ACA over last 10 years have been phenomenal.”
This group of distinguished business leaders were enthusiastic about Sandra Watson’s leadership and vision as CEO of the Commerce Authority, and how her efforts have moved the needle and elevated economic development in Arizona.
“The Arizona Commerce Authority, and the state as a whole, have clearly benefited and grown due to Sandra Watson’s servant leadership,” said Andy Lombard, EVP of Innovation and Venture Development. “Sandra embraces that more than I’ve ever seen anyone do before and her philosophy has rubbed off on all staff.”
“Sandra’s leadership and vision translates to high-paying jobs that supports families in Arizona,” said Chief Innovation Officer Brian Sherman. “Her empathy combined with tenacity is nothing like I’ve never seen before. She’s truly a corporate citizen, world leader and all-around good human being.”
Added McGovern, “Sandra was recently named the best state commerce secretary in the nation in a recent op-ed…what a compliment and she is so deserving of this recognition. Setting the culture of excellence within the organization, I find so much value in her as a role model. I feel motivated and inspired by her all the time…and not all leaders can do that. She’s an incredible leader.”
The group also discussed some of the big ideas and initiatives shaping Arizona’s future.
“We’re seeing a lot of focus on next-gen industries, the opportunity to re-shore, taking in key strategic industries like semiconductor and electric vehicles,” Sherman said. “Arizona is in the best position in comparison to other states as far as innovation. With little brain drain compared to other states, Arizona’s universities continue to grow in size and quality. I’m happy to see that talent is staying…in fact, Arizona is a talent magnet.”
“The ACA’s momentum continues and people are taking notice,” McGovern said. It’s taken 10 years of hard work and planning…so it’s all coming to fruition. While the agency has captured the attention of global audience, Sandra’s vision for the future has propelled us forward, as well as our city and statewide partners.”
Zylstra added, “Other disruptive next-gen sectors are medtech, wearables and autonomous vehicles. It’s just astonishing how much the Arizona Commerce Authority has accomplished in 10 years, and it’s worth celebrating their impressive success.”
The official podcast of the Arizona Technology Council, AZTechCast is dedicated to covering innovation and technology in Arizona and beyond. Through the art of the connected conversation, AZ TechCast’s hosts and guests share success stories, tech news and analysis about the region’s leading startups, companies and emerging technologies, as well as the latest industry trends and critical issues propelling Arizona’s growing technology ecosystem. Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/techcast to learn more or to listen to recent episodes.
About Phoenix Business RadioX
Karen Nowicki is the owner and president of Phoenix Business RadioX. Amplifying the voice of business, Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession and community. A successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™, Nowicki is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. In addition, Nowicki has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room and Mid-Day Arizona. Recognized for her leadership and business acumen, she has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.
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.