Aggressive, agile, smart. Arizona needs to be all of these to build on international business growth that has defied the economic downturn, Gov. Jan Brewer said Sept. 22.
“Exports create jobs, and I encourage and applaud businesses that are ready to enter the global marketplace,” Brewer said in her International State of the State Address to the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations.
Brewer noted that despite the recession exports increased for the second straight year in 2008, reaching $19.7 billion. The state’s relationship with China led to some of the strongest growth, with that country’s purchases from Arizona rising from $600 million to $1.2 billion annually between 2004 and 2008, she said.
The governor pointed to the recently signed Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, which is intended to support alternative energy production, as a way to lure international businesses focusing on renewable energy. She said her administration is already focused on using the program to boost international trade.
“Next month, my Arizona Department of Commerce will meet with 10 companies from Japan with interest in solar and renewable energy,” she said.
Department of Commerce spokesman David Drennon said later that next month’s meeting will include visits with Arizona Public Service to demonstrate how Arizona’s energy systems are already moving toward compatibility with renewable energy, as well as with Arizona State University’s photovoltaic testing lab, which Drennon said is widely recognized as a leader in the field.
Drennon said the new tax incentives, which offer a 10 percent tax credit for new renewable energy investment and a potential 77 percent reduction of state property tax for investments over $25 million, make Arizona not only a competitive but an ideal place for an alternative energy manufacturing plant or headquarters.
Brewer said that while tourism spending has declined during the economic downturn international visitation has increased. To build on that momentum, she said, the Arizona Office of Tourism will initiate a new marketing campaign next year titled, “Free To Be.”
The new marketing thrust targets Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan, she said. The tourism office also will track emerging foreign markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China for similar potential.
“Arizona is a destination where every traveler is free to be his or her best self,” Brewer said.