The Young, Daring and Triumphant star of the West

“Arizona is young and daring. She is not tied to precedent, to convention, to other states’ ways of doing things…. She is bent on making her own ways, and in her own way. Her mistakes will be her own, and her triumphs likewise.” George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917

I moved to Arizona in 2005, at the crescendo of a fervent real estate market…the beginning of ‘the crash’. My timing could not have been worse – or so I thought. Phoenix and surrounding cities had been hit harder than most across the U.S. So many residents and investors had lost homes, jobs and hope. But I had known Phoenix for a long time, and I knew that this devastation would not last. True to it’s mythology, this Phoenix would rise from the ashes.

“Opportunity is a new job or training for a better job. It’s the kind of school where every child can grow in knowledge and in character, the kind of neighborhoods where families feel protected, a state where enterprise is welcome and hard work is rewarded. ” AZ Governor Doug Ducey, 2015 Inauguration Speech

With a growing population of 4.6 million (6.7 million in the state) the Phoenix metropolitan area, is about the 12th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. with Phoenix itself the 5th largest city and expected to reach 4th position by 2020. Population has been a rising trend for many years and it is expected to continue growing for a many years to come.

Achieving world class notoriety in the areas of Technology, Education and Industry.

Experiencing the electric activity and growth across the metro Phoenix area, is the proverbial life force and energy rising from a smoldering pile of ashes. Education, Government, an innovative spirit and lifestyle is enabling Arizona to become a leader in the U.S. Growth and opportunity can be found in many facets of this thriving state.

Located only short hours away from key U.S. tech hubs (Denver, Austin, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle) Arizona is easily becoming one of the more significant tech-hubs in the U.S. The accolades have keep pouring in.

US Bureau Labor and CBRE Research: #1: High-tech job growth in the nation

Forbes 2016: #3  ‘Cities Winning the Battle for Information Jobs’

Fast Company: #1 for Entrepreneurial Activity

Tech giants agree, there is ‘gold’ in the Arizona desert. The evidence is in the dollars invested here. Companies that have made major moves over the past 18 months include: Apple, ZipRecruiter, Yodle, Zenefits, Weebly, Uber, Yelp, DoubleDutch, Gainsight, Prosper Marketplace, BoomTown, Shutterfly and most recently Lucid Motors.

Lucid Motors, an electric vehicle company from Menlo Park California, chose Casa Grande, Arizona as its site to build an electric vehicle manufacturing plant. $700 million dollars and over 2000 jobs are planned. Casa Grande was chosen after a lengthy evaluation of 60 potential sites in 13 states – formidable opponents across the U.S. and they chose AZ.

This foothold in the Tech industry is not new. Did you know…

Arizona ranks as the 4th largest manufacturer of semiconductors, 4th largest for aerospace and defense manufacturing, and 2nd largest region for data center location. It is also home to a rapidly growing industry in the areas of Biosciences, Automotive & Transportation, Advanced Manufacturing, and EdTech.

Supportive Government

Governor, Doug Ducey, a former CEO, proves he understands business and the importance of creating an innovative environment. He is a positive advocate for entrepreneurs, startups, small business, the sharing economy, and free enterprise in general. His efforts to build and deliver a lean administration as well as raise awareness of the business environment here has been relentless. Ducey recently took a trip in a self driving Google car when many are trying to keep the cars off their streets.

So what’s the business environment really like?

Streamlined Regulation and Simplified Tax System: The state actually has a blueprint for attracting new business with a revamped tax structure and tax credits. Their goal is to streamline regulations and processes.  In a 2016 speech Ducey made it clear, his mission is to clear the path of regulation and create a fertile environment where business can grow.

As Barry Goldwater wrote in ‘Conscience of a Conservative,’ “my aim is not to pass laws, it’s to repeal them.”So, in that spirit, in the governor’s office, we’ve identified hundreds of buried regulations that state agencies have imposed on Arizonans through the backdoor, hurting businesses large and small. Stifling job creation and progress.

Low-cost of Doing Business: we live in a low cost operating environment (reasonable real estate, employee expenses, taxes). Estimates against other ‘Tech Hubs’ show a reduction of 76% in total lease costs and 42% in annual employee costs.

Access to Talent: over 500,000 students across 18 higher learning institutions. Phoenix Information workforce has expanded by 39.29% since 2010, the 3rd highest increase behind San Francisco and NYC.

Focus on workforce development: Tax credits and grants for local employers to develop in-demand high-tech skills. ASU, University of Phoenix and the Maricopa County Community College System offer customized continuous learning and up-skilling programs locally that are affordable and convenient.

World-Class Education

Ducey announced that one of 2016’s greatest wins was the passing of Prop 123, a funding bill that adds billions of dollars to Arizona’s K through 12 programs. An investment that focuses on creating that knowledge pipeline to take advantage of the excellence at the post-secondary education level available across the state. While there is always room to improve all levels of education, the momentum behind improvement is not difficult when you have these world class institutions in your backyard. I had the opportunity once to listen to Sethuraman Panchanathan EVP, ASU Knowledge Enterprise; Chief Research and Innovation Officer, ASU. His passion for innovation and partnership on many levels is inspiring and is an example of the forces behind the scenes working to make AZ a mecca for innovation.

Arizona State University (ASU) is the largest public state university has been designated the #1 Most Innovative School in the U.S. by US News & World for the 2nd year in a row (they beat out Stanford and MIT).

Newsweek: “One of the most radical redesigns in higher learning (ASU)”

New York Times: “ASU’s Barrett Honors College is the gold standard”

The University of Arizona: noted as the number 1 research institution for physical sciences.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace is touted as “The Harvard of the Sky”

Thunderbird School of Global Management: ranked 15th in the world for executive education.

The University of Phoenix: the largest private university in the US.

The University of Advancing Technology: the first technology school in the US.

Grand Canyon University: one of the fastest growing private Christian Universities

Northern Arizona University: Best College in 2015 and 2016, for business and engineering, biological science, education, nursing and speech-language pathology. One of the fastest growing universities in the nation. US News and World Report

Prescott College: A unique liberal arts college in Prescott AZ, known for its experiential learning and programs in sustainability, this school produces great creative talent.

Aside from great colleges and Universities,  3 of the top 10 High Schools in the nation are here:

  • BASIS Scottsdale
  • University High School
  • Gilbert Classical Academy.

Arizona is also home to the Phoenix BioScience High School, Phoenix Metro Tech High School, Desert Marigold School (a Rudolf Steiner school), East Valley Institute of Technology, Western School of Science and Technology, Arizona Academy of Science, CREST at PV Schools, 2 school districts offering Mandarin, and Phoenix Coding academythe first High School completely focused on technology is opening in downtown Phoenix in August 2016!

Unique Resources, Entrepreneurs – The X Factors

Cyber Warfare Range located in Mesa, AZ: the largest privately funded cyber warfare range in the world and the only one in the US.

Rapid Prototyping Studios: Chandler Tech Shop, HeatSync Labs and Gateway Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation. Equipped with 3D Printers, Fabrication Equipment, Laser Cutting, Electronics, Welding, Woodworking, Textiles, Metal, and much more.

Research Centers: 60 Research Centers. Including the Biomimcry Institute. Biomimicry, the emerging discipline that looks for innovative solutions to today’s problems by emulating nature’s designs and processes.

Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve. Dr. Napoleon Hill

Startup Ecosystem. Over 75 incubators, accelerators, maker spaces and co-working spaces across the metro area along with an increasing number of capital resources, training and mentorship programs.

Rapid Prototyping Studios: Hardware is the new Software! In the Phoenix area we have 3 rapid prototyping studios as mentioned above: Chandler Tech Shop, HeatSync Labs and Gateway Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation.

Be close to the giants: as the emerging technologies become more pervasive, large companies will look to acquire interesting startups. We have many giants, including: Intel, Microchip, Honeywell, Raytheon, American Express, PayPal, General Motors, GoDaddy, JDA Software, Infusionsoft, Fujifilm, and more.

There is the cultural and aesthetic appeal of southwest style and grace as well as the growing big city feel that is rising from the desert. In Phoenix, we have a wonderful symphony orchestra, professional opera, theater, and ballet, There are world-class museums, Scottsdale shopping, plus a variety of entertainment possibilities. For the sports enthusiast, all of the professional sports are represented and more.

Few countries in the world present so marvelous a variety of scenic features as does Arizona…. the youngest of the American States, and yet one of the oldest lands of the whole continent…. What a wonderland …”  George Wharton James, Arizona, the Wonderland, 1917

Believe it or not, there are ski resorts within a few hours of the Phoenix metro area and a growing wine country north west of Phoenix and south of Tucson. With sunshine over 300 days a year, we have a spirited outdoor culture with plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails across our cities.

I fell in love with the hope and possibilities: the same hopes and dreams my parents had immigrating to Canada.

Originally born and raised in Toronto Canada, I still love my hometown and the big city, multicultural feel Toronto provides. Being a first generation Canadian, born of Italian immigrants, I understand the passion and importance of heritage and culture. My beautiful Italian family is huge: I have more cousins, aunts and uncles, than some people have in their entire business network, and I will always proud of my heritage.

But I fell in love with Arizona and Phoenix. I fell in love with the majestic landscape. I fell in love with the beautiful flora and fawn that changes right before my eyes on even short road trips. I fell in love with the people, many from so many other places who also fell in love with this oasis and never turned back. I fell in love with the hope and possibilities, the same hopes and dreams my parents had immigrating to Canada. I believe there are great days ahead for Arizona. I believe this young and daring state will triumph in many ways and that many, many more will love to call Arizona home.

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