Is there a growing tech scene in Arizona?

Guest author: Amy Taylor

About this guest author: Amy Taylor is a technology and business writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, Arizona. She has taken that knowledge and experience and brought it to her unique writing capabilities. She really enjoys new business-related issues that are tied directly to technology.

Arizona is well-known for a number of things. The majestic red rocks and mountains of Sedona have been a popular destination for tourists and Arizona natives for centuries, and the lush forests of Flagstaff in northern Arizona are a great place to go on hikes during the
summer and snowboard during the winter. Phoenix is one of America’s most beautiful cities, and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon captures the hearts and imaginations of thousands of visitors every year. However, until recently, it was not common to associate Arizona with the technology industry.

Silicon Valley: Not the only game in town

Historically, California’s aptly-named Silicon Valley was the biggest hotbed of technology companies in the world. Any startup company that wanted credibility and access to the best tech talent pool set up shop in the Northern California corridor. However, a new era is dawning where Silicon Valley is no longer the only place for tech company hopefuls to get their shot at success.

Arizona has been actively working to draw businesses, both from the technology industry and beyond it, to their state. Through a series of business-friendly policies and an increased focus on councils and organizations focused on technology, Arizona is already seeing signs of success.

2012’s Most Entrepreneurial State: Arizona

According to a report by CNN, Arizona was the #1 most entrepreneurial state in 2012. Arizona’s pro-business policies, including low taxes and low workers compensation costs have helped draw entrepreneurs away from high-tax states like California and into now-bustling tech hubs like Tucson and Phoenix. According to the report by CNN, there are 520 startups per 100,000 people in Arizona in 2011, the highest rate in the entire United States.

In addition, Arizona’s three public universities, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, produce significant numbers of highly trained and educated workers every year. Startup companies looking for employees hungry to make a name for themselves should know Arizona produces thousands of science and engineering graduates every year for them to choose from.

Related: Arizona-based tech company wants to be an affordable “cord-cutting” solution — Click here

Arizona also provides powerful incentives to businesses that hire Arizona university graduates. According to Jason Hope, a local entrepreneur, Arizona clearly wants its students and businesses to succeed, and provides the tools necessary to make that happen. One of the most successful incentives are state-provided grants to companies that provide job training to their employees. This results in a more educated and valuable workforce, something that is critically important to the success of high-skill industries within the broader technology industry. These policies have largely been successful, and there are now a number of software, solar, wind, and semiconductor companies making their home in cities like Tucson and Phoenix.

The Tucson Tech Corridor: A growing hub for innovators

The Tuscon Tech Corridor is another great example of Arizona’s commitment to growing their technology sector. The Tucson Tech Corridor is a strip of land near the University of Arizona and other logistical advantages being used to incentivize technology companies to start up or relocate there. The Tucson Tech Corridor is actively soliciting companies from a number of industries, including: aerospace and defense contractors, renewable energy startups, bioscience and other high-tech industries. With easy access to highways, railways, and the metropolitan Tucson region, the Tucson Tech Corridor is likely to further increase Arizona’s standing as one of the nation’s technology hubs.

Arizona: A proactive force in private sector growth

Along with pro-business policy adjustments, financial incentives for on-the-job tech training, and infrastructure investments, Arizona also contains an increasingly robust technology community. One of the key parts of this community is the Arizona Technology Council. The Arizona Technology Council is a private trade group whose primary function is ensuring the continued growth of Arizona’s technology sector. Since its inception in 2002, the Arizona Technology Council has held numerous meetings, educational events, and worked as a political voice for the growing number of technology professionals in Arizona. As of 2012, the Arizona Technology Council was holding over 100 events every year, including the monthly Council Connect and After5 meetings.

As the overall health of the nation’s economy continues to limp along and gradually improve, it will take proactive states like Arizona to drive the private sector growth necessary for a robust recovery. While all sectors of the economy are important, technology is trending to be one of the most important and profitable industries globally, and is an area where First World counties like the United States can continue to be competitive due to the high level of education technology jobs require. By helping drive the growth of technology startups, Arizona is playing a significant role in improving the state of both the Arizona economy and the health of the national economy.

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