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Arizona Commerce Authority transparency criticized by PIRG (access required)

The Arizona Public Interest Research Group yesterday released a report critiquing the Arizona Commerce Authority’s transparency practices, calling on the agency to make more information about subsidy programs available online and to fight for legislative change in areas where the ACA is prohibited by law from disclosing information.

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What finalists?

Though Commerce Authority officials have said they are reviewing whether they will release the names of the finalists being considered in the search for a new CEO, current CEO Don Cardon told our reporter today that the selection committee doesn't even have a list of finalists.

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Commerce Authority backs off controversial ‘stipends’ (access required)

The Arizona Commerce Authority announced late Friday afternoon that it will not be awarding the $5,000 stipends it had earlier promised to15 companies eliminated from a competitive grant program.

The Goldwater Institute’s Clint Bolick sent a letter to the ACA earlier this month, warning that the awards for unsuccessful semifinalists in the agency’s Innovation Challenge could be a violation of a constitutional provision banning government gifts to private companies, unless the money creates a tangible public benefit.

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Commerce Authority shields activity from public (access required)

The Arizona Commerce Authority came into existence nearly a year ago with a vow to be open and transparent, but the economic development agency has not followed through on all of those commitments.

The Commerce Authority has refused to disclose the list of finalists for its CEO position, refused to release information about who vets applicants for a $1.5 million grant program and makes little effort to inform the public of meetings of its numerous subcommittees.

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Commerce refuses to disclose CEO finalists

The Arizona Commerce Authority thus far has not released its list of finalists for outgoing CEO Don Cardon’s job, but one source who’s familiar with the search said Arizona Chamber of Commerce President Glenn Hamer is in contention and has been interviewed for the position.

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Critics say ACA tax credits to businesses should be fully disclosed (access required)

Since the Arizona Commerce Authority officially launched on July 1, it has awarded $17.2 million in incentives to companies moving to or expanding in Arizona. But detailed information is available for less than half of that money.

That’s because $9.3 million has been awarded in the form of tax credits, which are defined in Arizona statute as confidential taxpayer information.

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