The days of Arizona being a dusty truck stop on the way to California are long gone. Instead, recent developments have solidified the state’s stance as a burgeoning technology leader. Several technology giants are doubling down on their presence while others are exploring expansion into the Silicon Desert.
Arizona has long been home to legacy industries like aerospace and defense, and recent headlines indicate this momentum isn’t slowing down. Raytheon Missiles & Defense was just awarded a $619 million contract to produce advanced radar for U.S. Navy ships, and Boeing will soon be building 184 Apache attack helicopters in Mesa.
Emerging industries like clean energy are also taking Arizona by storm. Amazon has announced projects in Arizona and neighboring states to enable storage of clean energy, as well as its deployment during periods of high demand. Nikola has submitted plans for its hydrogen manufacturing plant in Buckeye, LG is ramping up its battery complex in Queen Creek and Mesa-based Nxu just demonstrated its ability to charge more than 1 megawatt.
Legislative District 28 — stretching from northwest Maricopa County into Yavapai County — has made the news more than once recently. Represented at the Legislature by Sen. Frank Carroll and Reps. David Livingston and Beverly Pingerelli, the district is home to the highly anticipated Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) plants that represent a $40 billion investment in Arizona.
From Carroll’s perspective, this historic investment is changing the face of economic development in Arizona, opening the door for TSMC’s entire supply chain and other Taiwanese technology companies to expand their presence locally. The state of Arizona has even opened a trade and investment office in Taipei, Taiwan, to further boost economic opportunities between the two regions.
These successes underscore the importance of technology-based, pro-growth and business-focused legislation in continuing Arizona’s economic development. The Arizona Technology Council regularly partners with the public and private sectors to advocate for legislation that prioritizes education and workforce development, encourages risk-taking and entrepreneurship, supports job creation and retention, and paves the way for qualified diverse talent to help shape the future. The key is to consider policies that protect consumers while ensuring fair and equitable competition.
Beyond smart policy comes the opportunity to also utilize technology as a tool in statewide economic development. Technology trends like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the Internet of Things are already defining how business is conducted and can only further improve collaboration and efficiency.
Here are a few ways technology can drive economic growth:
There is tremendous opportunity to leverage the cloud for data and information exchange, which can break down silos and lead to increased collaboration, communication, transparency and idea sharing among federal, regional and local governments. Cloud solutions can aggregate critical data, identify trends and recommend ways to improve existing systems.
Increasing productivity and better allocating resources
Studies show consistent reliability and transitioning to a digital infrastructure can drive productivity in a big way. According to a recent study by The Hackett Group, migrating from on-site infrastructure to the AWS cloud can increase administrator productivity by 66%. Technology allows laborious processes to be automated, which can improve work speed, reduce costs and cut infrastructure management time. Cloud technology provides an opportunity to rethink how critical processes are carried out, whether in procurement, security compliance, data protection or other areas.
It’s also important to highlight how technology opens the door for increased access to education, enabling more diverse learners to build high-tech skills. Introducing a hands-on approach to concepts like AI/ML early on plants the seed for next-generation innovators to dream up tech-driven businesses or become critical hires for startups. In a recent episode of the AZ TechCast podcast, leaders from Arizona State University, Arizona Commerce Authority and AWS illustrated the need for the public and private sectors to collaborate to foster innovation.
The way forward for Arizona’s economic development is clear –x : The formula must include smart public policy and cutting-edge technology solutions. Let’s work together to create a political and economic environment where Arizona can thrive.
Steven G. Zylstra is president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council and SciTech Institute,
and Sen. Frank Carroll, R-Sun City West, represents District 28.