Tag Archives: arizona commerce authority

Icefields Parkway, Banff; Jasper National Parks, Alberta, Canada

Canadians help heat up Arizona economy

Canadians love escaping the cold and traveling south to soak up the Arizona sun, but Arizona is becoming more than just a vacation destination for Canadians.

Arizona’s economic climate offers Canadian companies a great place to enter the U.S. market, and Canadian companies are taking advantage of Arizona’s favorable business climate.

More than 350 Canadian companies have opened enterprises in Arizona, making Canada the leader in the number of foreign businesses operating in the state. Arizona has a $6 billion bilateral footprint with Canada, which includes foreign direct investment, trade and tourism, according to Canada Arizona Business Council (CABC). Additionally, Canada is the foreign leader in the number of residential home ownership and commercial property ownership in Arizona. These numbers are substantial for a country whose ties with Arizona are defined by airports and financial institutions.


Arizona’s thriving and profitable business relationship started 60 to 70 years ago, according to Glenn Williamson, CEO and founder of the CABC. That was when western Canadians were first lured to Arizona to escape the cold. The attraction has only grown, and Arizona welcomed almost 900,000 Canadian visitors in 2013, setting a record for the number of Canadians selecting Arizona for travel.

But Williams said the game changer for Arizona’s business relationship with Canada came when the U.S. military began building up the aerospace industry in Arizona.

“Canada has always been a significant player in that supply chain,” Williamson said.

In the 1970s, Canadians began entering Arizona on the commercial real estate level and bought up huge chunks of property, Williamson said. The number of Canadians visiting the state and doing business in Arizona was on a steady growth trajectory before the recession hit. However, unlike how the recession negatively impacted most factors in the economy, Canadians poured into Arizona during the recession and bought very expensive houses, Williamson said.


Fast forward to the present and there are more than 350 business operating in Arizona, employing approximately 50,000 people, Williamson said. The biggest Canadian companies in Arizona include Bombardier Aerospace, which employs 1,000 Arizonans, and Bank of Montreal, which has 400 Arizona employees, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA).

Trade and investment with Canada accounts for 146,800 jobs in Arizona, meaning 1 in 20 jobs depends on trade and investment from Canada, said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the ACA.

“Each Canadian company that establishes a presence in Arizona creates jobs and capital investment in our state, generating a positive economic impact,” Watson said.  “Increased activity between Canada and Arizona brings new business opportunities, innovations and solutions to both markets.”

Additionally, Canada as a foreign direct investor is very favorable for Arizona’s economy because it helps insulate the state by providing diversification in the market, said Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC.) Moreover, these jobs generally carry 15 to 20 percent higher wages, he said.


Arizona’s pro-business environment and low operating costs make the state very attractive to Canadian companies.

“Arizona is an open-for-business type of state, which we saw as very attractive,” said Joe Gysel, president of EPCOR Water USA Inc., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian company EPCOR Utilities. EPCOR began operating in Arizona in 2010 and is now responsible for providing water and wastewater service to 22 communities and seven counties in Arizona and New Mexico, making it the largest privately regulated water utility in both states. Arizona was EPCOR’s entry point into the United States, with its U.S. headquarters in Phoenix. Choosing Arizona was a decision based purely on economics, Gysel said.

Regulatory assets, a competitive tax structure, talented labor pool and strategic location were all characteristics that attracted EPCOR and are continuing to draw other Canadian companies looking for corporate expansion, growth and start up in the U.S. market.

The low cost of operating a business in Arizona is key, experts said. Critical to this is Arizona’s Competitiveness Package. Adopted in 2011, this legislation modernized the state’s tax system, streamlined the regulatory structure and promoted a focus on business recruitment, retention and high-value job creation, according to the CABC.

Arizona’s simplified tax system is also a huge draw for Canadian companies. The state and local tax burden on Arizona’s citizens is the 14th lowest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. The tax-friendly environment is comprised of no franchise tax, no business inventory tax and no estate tax. The corporate and individual income tax rates in Arizona are also among the lowest in the nation. Additionally, the state provides companies low workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance rates.


Another major benefit Arizona offers Canadian companies is the access to the growing consumer market. The state’s strategic geographic location offers business unique access to major world markets.

“The most apparent reason you see a lot of Canadian companies out of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal is because they can get access to the California marketplace from a market that is more favorable from the cost side,” Camacho said.

Arizona is one of the only states within a day’s drive of California, the ninth largest economy; Texas, the 13th largest economy; and Mexico, the 14th largest. Canadian companies can reach 65 million consumers per day in Arizona by truck, Watson said.

“Arizona becomes Canadian beachfront property to South America,” Williamson said.

Arizona’s strenghtening workforce is also continuously fed by the state’s higher education system. The workforce in metro Phoenix offers a rich talent pool, Camacho said. The quality of the labor resources in Arizona was a compelling factor in EPCOR’s decision to locate it’s U.S. headquarters in Phoenix, according to the company. Arizona offers a number of top-quality universities, technical and trade schools that companies such as EPCOR are looking at during site selection. High-level education and training are key to companies growing in the utility space, experts said.

Arizona’s high quality of life, low cost of living and the low cost of commercial real estate are other huge draws for Canadian companies.

“One in five homes in Arizona is owned by a Canadian and that made coming to Arizona quite easy,” Gysel said.


In 2014, Matt Behmer’s Flagstaff-based Traditional Roofing Inc. was acquired by Canada’s Flynn Group of Companies. The Flynn Group of Companies is made up of seven companies and employs more than 4,000 people in 26 locations across North America.

“A lot of it had to do with the fact they saw growth opportunity here,” said Behmer, now director of operations in the Southwest for Flynn. He attributes the opportunity to grow, climate and logistics as the three main factors that brought Flynn to Arizona. According to Flynn, it saw Traditional Roofing as a perfect fit culturally and strategically to become a springboard for the company’s growth in the region.

In addition to the robust suite of advantages designed to help attract foreign businesses, Arizona-based economic development groups have laid the groundwork to facilitate the attraction of these companies. They accomplished this by engaging company decision makers in Canada and showing them Arizona’s many attributes and opportunities. The recruitment of Canadian companies has been a collaboration of economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, cities, towns, academic institutions and the business community.

“The ACA works closely with companies to educate them on Arizona’s value proposition and programs, which can help advance their corporate success,” Watson said. The ACA leads targeted sales missions every 30 to 60 days to select Canadian markets. In the past year, the ACA has led six such missions, Watson said.

GPEC is also on the front end of attracting Canadian firms.

“We take mayors on hosted road shows in Canadian markets to sell the advantages of operating in Metro Phoenix over other places,” Camacho said.

Despite all the success, Canada still doesn’t receive the same attention as other foreign countries, such as Mexico, when it comes to discussions on trade, investment and future growth. Mexico has a significant footprint in the state, but the business relationship between Mexico and Arizona has a huge way to grow compared with the state’s relationship with Canada, Williamson said. The benefits of Canadian companies doing business in Arizona and the impact on the state’s economy far exceeds the attention it receives.

Despite the lack of attention, experts agree that Arizona’s colossal business relationship with Canada will continue to grow and strengthen.

“Since 2009, Arizona’s exports to Canada have increased nearly 25 percent,” Watson said. “We expect to see trade and investment between Canada and Arizona increase exponentially moving forward.”

Phoenix Sky Harbor, Economic Impact

Arizona Commerce Authority leads promotion initiative

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is launching a statewide promotion development project aimed at creating a fresh and unified message to enhance Arizona economic development and tourism, and encourage civic pride.

The project – led by the ACA – will be a grassroots, public effort and engage leaders and Arizona citizens from all corners of the state.

“Arizona has an incredible amount to offer in terms of business opportunity, quality of life, and more,” said Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “This effort will allow us to build a brand which communicates the unmatched Arizona experience to the rest of the world.”

The effort will include substantial research to examine perceptions about the state. Project managers will facilitate one-on-one interviews with leaders both in-state and outside of Arizona to gather their critical insights.

The team will also conduct several hands-on workshops with statewide business, community and education stakeholder groups. Residents throughout the state will also be engaged to provide their opinions, and the team will be traveling throughout Arizona to ensure a diverse array of viewpoints are incorporated.

“There is so much to love about our state, and I’m excited about engaging Arizonans in the process of bringing their ideas together,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “We are thinking big in Arizona, and this is much more than a marketing tool. I am committed to making Arizona the best place to live, work and start a business, and this project will help us communicate all we have to offer in those continued efforts.”

The research initiatives and discovery sessions will provide a detailed look at Arizona’s brand perception as it currently stands. From there, new Arizona brand positioning, brand elements and foundational messaging will be developed, as well as an action plan for bringing the brand to life.


Hundreds of healthcare jobs added to Arizona labor market

Arizona’s healthcare sector has grown faster than the national average in the past year, and HealthPlanOne’s recent announcement to add hundreds of new jobs with its new Gilbert facility continues this trend in the Valley. One in every five jobs added in the state over the past year was in healthcare. The HPOne Gilbert facility is the second location for the healthcare technology company and follows their 2014 entrance into the state. “We’ve been very happy with our ability to attract and retain qualified employees in this market, so when it came time to choose a location for additional expansion, it was an easy decision to stay in the Valley,” said Bill Stapleton, founder and CEO of HPOne.

Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Sandra Watson isn’t surprised by the decision to add more healthcare jobs in the Arizona labor market. “This expansion is an excellent example of how Arizona’s pro-business environment and educated, skilled workforce foster corporate growth and success,” said Watson of the HPOne’s plan to add more than 160 employees to the offices located at 275 E. Germann Rd, Gilbert, AZ, by the end of 2015. The new location will serve HPOne’s member acquisition, brokerage and employer lines of business, providing marketing and sales solutions for national and regional carriers offering both Medicare and Individual and Family healthcare plans.

To celebrate the expansion, HPOne is hosting an Open House and Information Session for interested job candidates at the new location on Wednesday, August 19, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Hiring managers and recruiters will be available to discuss employment opportunities and attendees can take a tour of the new facility, meet HPOne staff, and submit a resume for future consideration. The event is free to attend and light refreshments will be served.

“Gilbert has more than two million square feet of state-of-the art hospital and clinical research facilities. As a leading location for healthcare in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Gilbert embraces companies like HPOne that support the community’s health services sector by providing innovative technology solutions for clients in the Medicare and health insurance marketplaces. We are glad HPOne chose Gilbert for their expansion and look forward to a continued partnership with this great company,” said Gilbert, Arizona Mayor John W. Lewis.

HealthPlanOne Open House Event Details:

Date: Wednesday, August 19, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: 275 E. Germann Rd, Gilbert, AZ

manpower employment

ACA pursues job-driven talent development strategies

Seven regional site teams across the United States have been selected to participate in the Communities that Work Partnership, a new joint project of the Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) of the Aspen Institute and the Economic Development Administration of the US Department of Commerce. The Communities that Work Partnership (CTW Partnership) is an effort to strengthen regional economies by equipping American workers with the skills needed for 21st century jobs and accelerating industry-led workforce development and training efforts.

The Arizona Commerce Authority was selected through a nationally competitive review process as one of the seven participating organizations. The regional site team, led by Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, will include the Arizona Technology Council and Cox Communications, represented by Steve Zylstra and Greg Ensell respectively. The selected regional team will lead job-driven talent development strategies in Arizona.

“We are honored to be selected as the lead agency on the Phoenix regional site team for the ‘Communities that Work Partnership’,” Watson said. “Arizona is nationally recognized for our innovative approach to workforce through sector partnership programs, and we look forward to leading this initiative and continuing to grow Arizona’s already impressive talent pool.”

The seven regional site teams, or regional partnerships, will begin a 15-month intensive accelerated learning exchange designed around each region’s pursuit of job-driven talent development strategies to promote economic growth. AspenWSI and FutureWorks Consulting, will facilitate the in-person and virtual learning exchanges and provide customized technical assistance by engaging national experts in economic, workforce, and talent development.

“Despite a positive growth outlook for IT jobs in Arizona, there is growing concern among local employers that the region lacks qualified workers to support future growth,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO, Arizona Technology Council. “The Arizona Technology Council is proud to be selected for the opportunity to help formulate actionable strategies aimed at closing the gap between the skills our workforce has and the skills our employers need to keep Arizona competitive.”

The CTW Partnership will culminate in a number of publications outlining systems-change progress and lessons learned among the seven regional site teams, which will be disseminated nationally in the fall of 2016. They will describe how networks of local leaders can work in new ways across traditional silos to build more effective regional workforce initiatives, and begin to influence and guide similar strategies in other communities across America.

“Cox Communications is dedicated to supporting the communities it serves, and we are very excited to participate in the AspenWSI ‘Communities that Work Partnership’,” said Greg Ensell, Manager of Government and Public Affairs for Cox Communications. “We look forward to collaborating with the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Technology Council on this project to continue growing and strengthening Arizona’s workforce.”

The CTW Partnership was launched in April 2015 at an event at the Aspen Institute that featured Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson in a dialogue over the need to learn from successful regional job-driven workforce development efforts to inform practices in other communities around the United States.

The other six regional site teams selected to participate in the Communities that Work Partnership, by Lead Agency, are:

  • Bay Area Video Coalition, City and County of San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, CBS Corporation, Work2Future/Silicon Valley/San Jose Workforce Investment Board (San Francisco area)
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Erie County Executive Office, National Grid (Buffalo-Niagara Falls area)
  • Greater Houston Partnership, San Jacinto College, United Way of Greater Houston, Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions (Greater Houston area)
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Anacostia River Initiative/Federal City Council Anacostia Waterfront Trust (Greater Washington, DC, area)
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Employment Law Project, Hand in Hand (New York City)
  • Northwest Georgia Regional Workforce Partnership, J+J Flooring Group, Technical College System of Georgia, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce (Northwest Georgia)

ACA announces spring Innovation Challenge winners

The Spring 2015 round of the Arizona Innovation Challenge culminated today as the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced the six winning companies. These grant recipients represent early-stage Arizona companies that are creating innovative technological solutions with the potential for significant economic impact. 

The Spring 2015 Arizona Innovation Challenge Grant Recipients are:

• CampusLogic – Gilbert, AZ (IT – Software): CampusLogic’s cloud-based software solutions are the TurboTax of higher education financial aid administration. Its suite of products saves time, cuts costs, and increases student satisfaction.

• eVisit – Gilbert, AZ (IT – Software): eVisit is physician-first software platform that enables physicians and providers to increase revenue and quality of care by providing online treatment, billing and e-prescription solutions, and daily patient health data and analytics.

• RBar Energy – Tucson, AZ (Advanced Manufacturing): RBar Energy utilizes high-pressure and high-moisture manufacturing techniques for food made with all natural ingredients. 

• RevolutionParts, Inc. – Tempe, AZ (IT – Software): RevolutionParts is a highly-specialized software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that makes it easy for automotive dealerships to sell factory car parts online.

• RightBio Metrics – Scottsdale, AZ (Bio & Life Sciences): RightBio Metrics’ three pH measurement devices (RightSpot pH Indicator, RightSpot Infant pH Indicator, and RightLevel pH Detector) allow clinicians to safely and accurately obtain a pH measurement of aspirate from NG feeding, suction, and PEG tubes. 

• Swimlane – Tempe, AZ (IT – Software): Swimlane is a platform that allows enterprises and government agencies to streamline and automate their security operations and incident response.

A panel of expert judges evaluated 138 applications for the Spring 2015 AIC round, from companies based in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin. Each company was assessed on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense. In June 2015, a total of 10 finalists were named in this round.

“Congratulations to the winners in this latest round of the Arizona Innovation Challenge,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “As they commercialize their technology, these innovative companies will continue to create high-quality jobs that have a positive economic impact, and we’re thrilled to support them in that journey.”


Arizona is nationally recognized as a top state for entrepreneurial activity due to the strength of its innovation ecosystem, which includes programs such as the AIC that support early-stage companies. Under the Arizona Commerce Authority, eight rounds of the AIC have been completed and more than 1,400 applications received for the program since 2011. Including the most recent Spring 2015 recipients, the ACA has awarded 50 AIC grants to Arizona’s entrepreneurs to help them accelerate their businesses and advance technologies.


VincentBenjamin creates 40 new jobs in Phoenix

VincentBenjamin Group (VB), a leading provider of professional recruiting, staffing and project consulting services headquartered in Phoenix, today announced that they have completed their expansion to move into new headquarters located in the Esplanade. The move increases VincentBenjamin’s Phoenix footprint to 12,000 square feet and allows the company to execute on its plan to add 40 additional high-paying jobs to the Phoenix economy.

The jobs will primarily consist of sales and account management roles to meet increasing hiring demand with VincentBenjamin clients. The company also intends to add managers and staff to its corporate operations team. On average, compensation for the newly created jobs will range from $50,000 to $100,000+.

Mr. Vincent Dorazio of VincentBenjamin stated, “Phoenix, Ariz., has always been home to us and we are excited to be a part of the economic resurgence taking place throughout the Valley. While we are experiencing high-growth in each of our four markets, we are enjoying particularly strong growth in Phoenix.”

Phoenix Forward, a collaborative economic development initiative between the City, Chamber, and Arizona Commerce Authority, intends to foster and leverage existing business relationships in Phoenix to help facilitate the growth of jobs and investment.

City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, said, “We are very glad to have a young, entrepreneurial company like VincentBenjamin growing and expanding in the City of Phoenix. We wish them great success in their new space and continued prosperity here in Phoenix.”

“VincentBenjamin has clearly established itself as one of the top recruiting, staffing and consulting firms in the Phoenix market. Finding quality talent and building a strong workforce are of the highest concern for businesses today,” said Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

“By choosing to grow and expand here in Arizona, VincentBenjamin is not only creating quality jobs for Valley residents, but also creating a sense of responsibility for the success of both the client and candidate that is truly unique.”

Phoenix Council Member Sal DiCiccio stated, “Jobs are always a welcome addition to the Phoenix economy and high paying jobs like these are outstanding. The continued growth of VincentBenjamin is a testament to the friendly business climate we’re building here.”

regional planning agency

ACA names finalists for Innovation Challenge

The Spring 2015 round of the Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC) continues as the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced 10 finalists in its bi-annual business plan competition, which awards $3 million annually to talented entrepreneurs.

Each year, the ACA awards $1.5 million in the spring and $1.5 million in the fall to the most qualified, innovative early-stage companies. Recipients receive up to $250,000 in capital to grow their businesses – advancing innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona. The ACA’s engagement with early-stage companies through its suite of targeted programs such as the AIC continues to spur growth and capital investment within Arizona’s innovation ecosystem.

The 10 Spring 2015 Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists are as follows:

  • Campus Logic, IT – Software , Gilbert
  • Revolution Parts, Inc.. IT – Software, Tempe
  • eVisit, IT – Software, Gilbert
  • Beacon Biomedical, Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale
  • Higgle, IT – Software, Scottsdale
  • NVI Algae, Bio & Life Sciences,  Phoenix
  • eMoney Pool, IT – Software, Phoenix
  • Swimlane, IT – Software, Tempe
  • RBar Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Tucson
  • RightBio Metrics, Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale

A panel of expert judges evaluated 138 applications for the Spring 2015 AIC round, from companies based in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Texas and Wisconsin. Each company was assessed on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense. In May 2015, a total of 25 semifinalists were named in this round.

Every applying company that meets the AIC’s eligibility requirements receives constructive feedback generated from the rigorous online evaluation and scoring process. All 25 semifinalists are considered for participation in Venture Ready, the ACA’s mentor program that connects early stage companies with high-level CEOs to further refine business plans and investor pitches.

REI Goodyear Distribution Center

REI to open 400KSF distribution center on Loop 303

Seattle-based REI, a leading outdoor retailer, has announced it will open a 400,000-square-foot distribution center creating more than 100 new jobs in the West Valley – becoming the third tenant along the newly-opened Loop 303 in Goodyear.

REI offers its members and customers outdoor gear and apparel for activities such as for hiking, biking and camping. The company is expected to break ground on the facility covering 34 acres near Loop 303 and Camelback Road in May and open in early 2016. REI has been one of a few select companies recognized on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” since the recognition began in 1998.

“This is exciting news,” said Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord. “Not only does REI’s announcement mean more jobs in the city, it signals businesses continuing to open along Loop 303 – a major corridor of land available for development. We’re glad REI selected Goodyear to set up shop, and we look forward to having them here.”

Through the new distribution center, REI and REI.com customers will benefit from shorter cycle times required to replenish product, ensuring for more options on store shelves and shorter deliveries. Once the Goodyear facility is up and running, the company will reach 20 percent more customers with two-day ground service.

“We are privileged to join the community of Goodyear as we expand our distribution capacity and services to the southwest market,” said Rick Bingle, REI’s vice president of Supply Chain. “The Goodyear distribution center will enable us to continue to focus on the needs of customers by moving our gear and apparel more quickly and efficiently, now and into the future.”

REI has partnered with Sunbelt Holdings/Merit Partners     as developers for the project.

“We are very excited that REI has selected PV303 for their new distribution and fulfillment center,” said Kevin Czerwinski, President of Merit Partners. “REI joins other corporate household names currently located at PV303, all benefiting from the availability of quality labor, fantastic logistics, freeway identity, and foreign trade zone.”

The addition of REI to Goodyear continues to solidify not only Goodyear’s, but the West Valley’s presence as a major player in online fulfillment centers that provide high-quality goods to consumers and retailers throughout the western United States.

Sandra Watson, president of CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said Arizona is a prime location for companies such as REI.

“Arizona’s world-class infrastructure system and strategic Southwest location are key advantages supporting the distribution channel and supply chain management needs of growing national and international companies, Watson said. “We welcome REI to our business community and thank them for investing in Goodyear for their corporate expansion.”

The sentiments of Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, echoed Watson’s.

“There has been significant investment in infrastructure in the West Valley, and the recently completed PV303 business park is another example of how our region is growing businesses,” said Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

“The decision by REI to locate their newest facility to the city of Goodyear at the PV303 is emblematic of this commitment, and Mayor Georgia Lord and her team have contributed greatly to this effort. Together, we look forward to welcoming REI to the region,” Camacho added.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton talks about Phoenix Forward, which will help with business retention and expansion.

Phoenix Forward launched to spark business growth

Officials said local business expansion makes up 80 percent of new jobs.

Phoenix leaders plan to help facilitate that growth and support business needs through the Phoenix Forward initiative, which launched Wednesday.

The initiative is a partnership between the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, the city of Phoenix, the Arizona Commerce Authority and Maricopa County.

Phoenix Forward plans to meet with businesses to gain an understanding of their operation and help with retention and expansion. They will assist with developing policy issues, analyzing industry trends, overcoming regulatory barriers and promoting the region for new companies.

The initiative was funded by $1.5 million from private investors and will focus on companies in four key sectors: transportation and logistics, advanced business services, health care and bioscience.

Sandra Watson, CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, said the Phoenix Forward initiative is about communication, collaboration and commitment to enhance the state’s economy.

“The idea of Phoenix Forward is to really help support existing businesses in the state as well as in the city and to ensure that they have everything they need in order to continue to grow,“ she said.

“If they have workforce issues, we can assemble a team to address workforce. If they are looking to export to outside markets, we can assemble a team to provide information and intelligence on various market opportunities for businesses.”

Todd Sanders, president of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said the idea for the initiative began two years ago in an effort to understand how to support local businesses. The first thing they learned was that it had to be a collaborative process.

“We decided it was time to stop admiring the problem and to do something about it,” Sanders said at a news conference. “It means that the data we’re all collecting is going to come back to one central spot. We’re going to share it. We’re going to know what’s happening, and we’re going to know what’s out there.”

Russ Yelton, CEO of Pinnacle Transplant Technologies, said his company has identified new talent, explored several spaces to build a larger facility and received workforce training grants through the Phoenix Forward initiative.

“The support helps us in staying focused on growing our business and adding jobs to our community,” he said. “We have doubled our workforce to over 70 associates in the last 18 months and plan on hiring another 30 by the end of this year.”

Stanton said the area of economic development and job growth had been too siloed.

“If we are really going to grow jobs in this community, most of it is going to come from existing companies deciding to reinvest here in our community,” he said. “We’re going to be a much better partner to the business community as a result of this coming together.”

Northern Trust at Discovery Business Campus, rendering credit to DAVIS

Northern Trust to expand at Discovery Business Campus

Seeking to meet long-term global growth needs and expected demand for services, Northern Trust announced plans to expand in Arizona by opening a new operating center in Tempe.

The center – expected to open in mid-2015 and grow to 1,000 full-time employees over the next three years – will provide multiple financial business and banking services, with staff performing a wide variety of roles across Northern Trust business units and functions. Positions will range from entry level to highly specialized leadership roles.

“Arizona offers an exciting opportunity to address the increasing needs of our clients as our business continues to grow,” Northern Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick H. Waddell said. “This step will provide us with access to significant talent pools and a strategic location that will help us efficiently serve our clients.”

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said, “Northern Trust’s decision to expand in Tempe is fantastic news, and further validation of the robust pro-business environment Arizona offers. This move will bring 1,000 quality jobs, reinforcing our reputation as one of the most competitive and attractive places to do business. While Northern Trust has been in Arizona since 1974, we are thrilled to see Northern Trust’s substantial new investment in our state.”

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said the city is thrilled to welcome Northern Trust to a community of businesses that make the city great. “Northern Trust is a prestigious, global, philanthropic banking leader – we are eager to see them fully operational here, providing new, high-wage jobs, and becoming fully integrated in our community,” Mitchell said. “Their desire to be in Tempe showcases why we are a destination for businesses that want excellent quality of life, a comprehensive transportation network, great schools and a vibrant environment.”

Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority, said, “Northern Trust is truly an exceptional company with a distinguished 125-year history as a leading global financial institution, and its selection of Arizona for expansion speaks volumes about our state’s dynamic, pro-business environment. Our connectivity to world markets and robust talent pool continue to make Arizona a preferred state for businesses to scale their operations for global growth. We welcome Northern Trust and look forward to supporting its continued success.”

Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said, “Investment in the region from companies such as Northern Trust further solidifies Greater Phoenix’s position in leading the nation in growth in the financial services industry. Northern Trust is one of the most recognizable institutions, with a long-standing tradition of giving back to its communities. We look forward to welcoming them to Tempe and the Greater Phoenix region.”

The decision, made after several months of exploring a variety of competitive expansion opportunities, reflects several business and operational factors, including Northern Trust’s:
 Projected growth in demand for services, even in light of expanding operations in Limerick, Ireland, and the opening of a new facility in Manila, Philippines.
 Need to widen its client-support coverage to allow for time zone differences, and to supplement work of existing U.S. resources to deliver quicker response times to clients.
 Opportunity to widen talent pools and achieve greater geographic diversity.

The new office will be located in the Discovery Business Campus in Tempe. Northern Trust will occupy temporary space on the site while a new building is constructed. The permanent space is expected to be ready by the end of 2015. Pamela Higdon will serve as Director of the Arizona Operational Center. She previously held a variety of leadership roles, including Head of Planning and Development for Northern Trust Hedge Fund Services.

“The Discovery Business Campus is a strategic business destination for many national companies. We’re thrilled that Northern Trust is joining our thriving campus,” said Jim Wentworth, principal of the Wentworth Property Company, the developer of the Discovery Business Campus in Tempe. “At completion, the Discovery Business Campus will be a 136-acre master-planned Class A office, retail, flex office, and hospitality mixed-use business park, conveniently accessing Loop 101.”

Arizona has been a home for Northern Trust since 1974. Its network of three offices and more than 150 partners provide a full range of trust, private banking and investment services and employs the fourth largest number of Northern Trust staff in the U.S. At the end of 2014, Northern Trust had $6.2 billion in assets under management in Arizona.


CampusLogic wins Venture Madness competition

The education and medical technology industries in Arizona were strongly represented during this year’s Venture Madness competition. The event culminated with Gilbert, Ariz.-based CampusLogic emerging victorious as the Venture Madness Champion in the final round.

CampusLogic is a student financial aid self-service platform that gives students a simple, TurboTax-like way to apply for and receive financial aid. CampusLogic delivers a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for colleges and universities, which decreases administrative costs, lowers security risks and dramatically improves the student experience. The company’s goal is to increase borrower understanding and simplify the financial aid process. In addition to the title, CampusLogic took home the $30,000 top prize award that will help the business continue to grow.

The unique, bracket-style pitch competition, presented by Invest Southwest in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, offered $55,000 in total cash prizes, which were split between the top four competitors and a People’s Choice winner. Taking second place and earning a $10,000 check was EndoVantage, a cloud-based solution for planning patient-specific endovascular treatments. RightBio Metrics, a bio fluid measurement technology company, and Beacon Biomedical, a medical diagnostic device company that provides blood tests for early cancer detection, each took home $5,000 for being among the second runners-up. Picmonic, which helps students learn using mnemonic illustrations, won the $5,000 People’s Choice Award for being ranked first most often in the public bracketology portion of the competition.

“The level of competition increased from last year ten-fold, and each company really stepped up to fine-tune their presentations and focus on the important elements of their business,” said Jonathan Ariano, chairman of Invest Southwest. “I’m impressed by all of the startups that competed this year and the way they represented the Southwest as a thriving community for entrepreneurs and investors.”

The Venture Madness competition began online in January with 64 early-stage growth companies seeding the bracket. The public was able to review each company’s video and application online and make picks by filling out their own bracket for a chance to win prizes for the most accurate bracket. During the final portion of the competition held March 4 – 6 at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, the top 16 startups pitched live in head-to-head match ups before a panel of judges.

“We are excited to have been a part of this incredible event and humbled to represent the education technology industry as the winner of Venture Madness,” said Gregg Scoresby, CampusLogic Founder and CEO. “We believe the success of our innovative student self-service platform will help solidify Arizona’s position as the leading state in education technology.”

More than 250 people attended the 2015 Venture Madness conference including investors, entrepreneurs, industry experts and service professionals. For more information about the competition visit: VentureMadness.com.

Arizona Commerce Authority awards grants to innovators

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) today announced the six winning companies in its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC). These grant recipients represent innovative Arizona entrepreneurs who are creating technological solutions with the potential for global impact.

The Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge Grant Recipients are:

·       Iris PR Management – Phoenix, AZ (IT – Software): Iris PR Management is the developer of the first core management system for the public relations industry. The SaaS platform enables PR teams to manage and automate all of their daily activity, streamline efficiencies, measure performance and prove value. No other software solution for the PR industry addresses these core needs.

·       Iron Horse Diagnostics, Inc. – Scottsdale, AZ (Bio & Life Sciences): Iron Horse Diagnostics is the creator of a diagnostic platform for neurological traumas and diseases. The company’s tests support the diagnosis and management of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as traumatic brain injury, concussions and other neurological diseases.

·       NuvOx Pharma – Tucson, AZ (Bio & Life Sciences): NuvOx Pharma is the creator of a therapeutic biotechnology for improving oxygen delivery in the bloodstream to help treat life threatening conditions, including radiation-resistant cancers. The nanotechnology platform is based on dodecafluoropentane (DDFPe) nano-emulsion, which transports hundreds of times more oxygen per dose than other materials.

·       Park Genius – Tucson, AZ (IT-Software): Park Genius is the developer of a mobile application allowing motorists to conveniently pay for parking using their smartphone. The software solution also gives parking providers a cost-efficient way to process cashless payments for their parking operations and avoid the need to purchase new and expensive hardware designed to accept credit cards.

·       Pure Chat – Scottsdale, AZ (IT-Software): Pure Chat is the developer of a live chat solution for websites that helps businesses connect to their customers from anywhere.

·       Spotlight Software – Peoria, AZ (IT-Software): Spotlight Software is the developer of a SaaS-based sales performance management platform. It is the only remote sales performance optimization tool that tracks and measures individual behavior and soft skills to drive the actionable insight required to build a high-performance sales team.

A panel of expert judges evaluated 154 applications from the Fall 2014 AIC submitted by companies based in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. The judges assessed each application on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense.

“Congratulations to our newest AIC winning companies. They demonstrate the innovative spirit and next-generation thinking that make Arizona one of the top hubs for entrepreneurial excellence in the nation,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority.

Under the Arizona Commerce Authority, seven rounds of the AIC have been completed and more than 1,200 applications received for the program since 2011. Including the Fall 2014 recipients, the ACA has awarded 44 AIC grants to Arizona’s entrepreneurs to help them accelerate their businesses and advance technologies, which are diversifying Arizona’s innovation economy.

Jane Poynter, CEO of Tucson-based World View Enterprises, a Spring 2014 AIC grant recipient knows the importance of Arizona’s support of its startup community. Her company develops and manufactures high-altitude balloon technology that provides trips to near space for tourism, R&D and industry uses. World View’s unmanned balloons carry payloads for communications, surveillance, research, and launching microsatellites.

“Winning an AIC award last spring represented a key milestone for our company as well as for our relationship with Arizona,” said Poynter. “We are using our grant to begin standing up our balloon manufacturing facility. It is a key enabler for our company, and affirms that Arizona is interested in supporting innovation and the creation of manufacturing jobs in the state.”


Revel Systems iPad POS expands into Scottsdale

Revel Systems, the world’s leading iPad Point of Sale platform, today announced it has expanded operations into Arizona through a new Scottsdale office. The company will create 160 new jobs during the next three years to drive its global sales growth. Revel’s Vice President of Sales, Bobby Marhamat will devote resources to create jobs and extend the local footprint in the Greater Phoenix market. Marhamat has been with Revel Systems iPad POS since June of 2014 and has successfully grown sales teams and business initiatives at companies such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint.

“Revel is building a world-class sales team here in Scottsdale, and we cannot wait to get started,” said Marhamat. “Thousands of food service and retail franchise operators and small-to-medium business owners worldwide depend on Revel’s POS platform to help grow their business. We expect 2015 will bring further interest and expansion in our offering and are excited to leverage Arizona’s vibrant talent pool to extend that momentum.”

“We’re excited to welcome Revel Systems to Arizona,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Their decision to expand in Scottsdale is a strong testament to the pro-business climate, booming corporate base and highly-skilled workforce that have made the East Valley one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing areas in the country. I am committed to ensuring that great companies like Revel continue to look to Arizona as the premiere place to bring their business.”

“We thank Revel Systems for selecting Arizona to expand, and are excited to see its new Scottsdale operation, and innovative POS technology solutions for business, advance the growth of other entrepreneurs across globe,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Our state’s strategic Southwest location, proximity to key regional growth markets, and competitive cost of doing business continue to provide an attractive platform for today’s leading companies to thrive and achieve their corporate success.”

This Arizona expansion news follows Revel’s announcement in November 2014 where it secured $100 million in Series C funding to strengthen support and operations in order to meet rapidly growing demand and sales for its iPad POS solution.  Additionally, last month Revel opened a UK sales and operations center in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and an IT division in Lithuania.

The Revel iPad POS platform includes complete front-end order entry, POS system and payment processing, back-end personnel scheduling, time clock and payroll, inventory management, comprehensive product/menu management and advanced reporting to successfully measure and optimize business performance.

“We are thrilled to continue Revel’s significant growth with our first office in Arizona,” said Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of Revel. “Our ultimate goal is to empower business owners to start and grow their own businesses, making their lives easier along the way. As we continue to expand Revel’s global reach, scaling a talented team of salespeople will be critical to Revel’s continued success.”

Revel’s new office will be located in the Scottsdale Innovation Center and is officially open for business January 12, 2015. Candidates interested in positions at the new location can contact Revel at jobs@revelsystems.com.

technical education career training looking at petri dish

ACA names Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) today announced 10 finalists in the Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), its bi-annual business plan competition that awards talented entrepreneurs who are solving today’s most challenging problems with technology-based solutions.

Each year in the spring and fall, the ACA awards to the most qualified, innovative startups and early stage companies capital to grow their businesses, advancing innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona.

The 10 Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists include:

• CampusLogic, IT – Software, Gilbert
• Dermspectra LLC, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson
• Energy Conservation Mgmt., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Scottsdale
• Iris PR Management, IT – Software, Phoenix
• Iron Horse Diagnostics, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale
• NuvOx Pharma, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson
• Park Genius, IT – Software, Tucson
• Pure Chat, IT – Software, Scottsdale
• RightBio Metrics, Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale
• Spotlight Software, IT – Software, Peoria

A panel of expert judges evaluated 154 applications from the Fall 2014 AIC, assessing each on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense.

Every applying company that meets the AIC’s eligibility requirements will receive constructive feedback generated from the rigorous online evaluation and scoring process. Last December, a total of 25 semifinalists were named and will be considered for participation in Venture Ready, the ACA’s mentor program that connects early stage companies with high-level CEOs to further refine their business plans and investor pitches.

The ACA will name its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge winning companies later this month.

Phoenix AAED

AAED brings top certification to Ariz.

AAED’s 2014 Member of the Year, Susan Hyatt, has chaired the organization’s Professional Education Committee for the last two years, during which more than 600 people have participated in educational programs offered by AAED. For the last four years, she has worked with the committee to bring classes from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) to Arizona. After facilitating six classes through the IEDC, Hyatt and AAED Executive Director Joyce Grossman brought the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) exam to the state in December.

It’s safe to say the Arizona Commerce Authority’s vice president of business expansion knows a thing or two or 10 about educating the state’s economic developers. She and a handful of other top-notch economic developers can now also boast being a part of the inaugural graduating class of Arizona Economic Development Professionals (AZED Pros).

The AZED Pro certification will be the first time the IEDC has held an exam separate from one of its conferences.

“I took the courses because I believe in the benefits of life-long learning,” she says. “As we grow professionally, we certainly become more knowledgeable and some of us may even be considered experts. However, there are always opportunities to learn more or gain a deeper, nuanced understanding of some facet of economic development. Also, economic development encompasses such a variety of topics and requires a broad skillset. Taking these courses helped to strengthen my knowledge in topic areas that I don’t cover in my day-to-day work.”

To become an AZED Pro, a professional must take two courses in four modules: Arizona’s Economy; Incentives and Business Assistance Programs; Arizona Taxation; and Marketing and Business Development. The courses can last anywhere between a half and full day and cost up to $150.

“One of the key components of all the courses are case studies, which provide participants reallife, often Arizona-specific, examples of the concepts discussed,” says Hyatt.

Hyatt calls AAED’s education opportunities one of the organization’s greatest contributions.

“The committee has done some great work and increased professional development opportunities in Arizona, especially during a time period when budgets, in both public and private organizations, have been tight and the ability to travel outside of the state to receive training has been extremely limited,” says Hyatt.


ACA names Arizona Innovation Challenge semifinalists

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) today announced 25 semifinalists in its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), a bi-annual business plan competition awarding $3 million annually to talented entrepreneurs.

Each year, the ACA awards – $1.5 million in the spring and $1.5 million in the fall – to the most qualified, innovative startups and early-stage companies. Recipients receive up to $250,000 in capital to grow their businesses, advancing innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona.

“We congratulate the forward-thinking entrepreneurs selected as our newest AIC semifinalists,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Arizona’s engagement with early-stage companies through its suite of targeted programs continues to spur growth, technology commercialization and capital investment within Arizona’s innovation ecosystem. With more than 1,200 applications received for the AIC since 2011, the program continues to be among the many opportunities available to innovators which have made Arizona a top hub for entrepreneurial activity and startup success.”

The 25 Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge Semifinalists include:

• Adosia, LLC, IT – Software, Tempe, AZ
• Allbound, IT – Software, Scottsdale, AZ
• Cactus Semiconductor, Advanced Manufacturing, Chandler, AZ
• CampusLogic, IT – Software, Gilbert, AZ
• Crowd Mics, IT – Software, Mesa, AZ
• Dermspectra, LLC, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Energy Conservation Mgmt., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Scottsdale, AZ
• EZ Dump Commercial, Advanced Manufacturing, Phoenix, AZ
• HiringSolved, IT – Software, Chandler, AZ
• Iris PR Management, IT – Software, Phoenix, AZ
• Iron Horse Diagnostics, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale, AZ
• MWI Laboratories, Advanced Materials, Tempe, AZ
• Next Alternative, Inc., Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Chandler, AZ
• Numa Tactical Eyewear, Advanced Materials, Phoenix, AZ
• NuvOx Pharma, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Park Genius, IT – Software, Tucson, AZ
• PoG Technologies, LLC, Cleantech/Renewable Energy, Peoria, AZ
• Pure Chat, IT – Software, Scottsdale, AZ
• RightBio Metrics, Bio & Life Sciences, Scottsdale, AZ
• Salutaris Medical Devices, Inc., Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Sentinel Internet Systems, IT – Software, Phoenix, AZ
• Smart Service Desk, IT – Software, Chandler, AZ
• Spotlight Software, IT – Software, Peoria, AZ
• Universal Bio Mining, Bio & Life Sciences, Tucson, AZ
• Zero Shock Seating, Advanced Manufacturing, Chandler, AZ

A panel of expert judges evaluated 154 applications from the Fall 2014 AIC submitted by companies based in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia. The judges assessed each application on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. These companies represent high-value industry sectors that include IT software, IT hardware, bio and life sciences, cleantech/renewable energy, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace and defense.

Every applying company that meets the AIC’s eligibility requirements will receive constructive feedback generated from the rigorous online evaluation and scoring process. All semifinalists also will be considered for participation in Venture Ready, the ACA’s mentor program that connects early stage companies with high-level CEOs to further refine business plans and investor pitches.

The ACA will name its Fall 2014 Arizona Innovation Challenge finalists in early January and the winners later that same month.

economic development - 8 honored

APAC Customer Services’ expansion to create 1,100 jobs

APAC Customer Services, Inc., a leader in global customer care outsourcing solutions, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Inc. (TREO), announced Monday an expansion in Phoenix and Tucson that is expected to bring more than 1,100 jobs to Arizona’s Sun Corridor over the next three years.

Jack Jones, Chief Operating Office of Expert Global Solutions, Inc., APAC’s parent company, stated, “Having lived in the state of Arizona for a number of years, I am a big fan of the ‘Sun Corridor.’ Access to qualified and experienced customer service personnel, top educational institutions and great weather make the state an ideal place for us to grow.”

City of Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild echoed Jones’ sentiments and recognized APAC’s long history and significant presence, “APAC has been a major employer in Southern Arizona for many years, currently employing nearly 2,000 of our citizens. We know every business has a choice of where to operate and the City of Tucson continues to make this a business-friendly climate for its existing employers to expand.”

“This is a positive step for Phoenix, Tucson and the entire Sun Corridor,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “For our economy to grow, we must continue to work together as a region and as a state.”

During the first year, the partnership is expected to generate over 300 new jobs in Tucson – split between APAC’s two sites in the city – and an additional 135 jobs to its site in north Phoenix. Throughout the next two years, the state is expected to benefit from 669 additional jobs (382 in Tucson and 287 in Phoenix), bringing the overall three-year job creation total to over 1,100 jobs for Arizona.

“APAC is the global leader in its industry serving top brands around the world, and we thank the company for its continued commitment to Arizona as it undertakes its next phase of growth,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “APAC’s investment and expansion in Phoenix and Tucson will create hundreds of professional services jobs for Arizonans across our state.”

Commenting on the growth, Joe Snell, President and CEO, TREO, stated, “State leaders, local officials and economic development partners joined together to deliver an important win for the economic recovery: nearly 700 new jobs here in Southern Arizona.”

“We’re pleased that APAC’s existing presence in the Sun Corridor mega-region continues to grow,” said Sharon Bronson, Chair, Pima County Board of Supervisors. “Tucson’s high-quality, bilingual workforce is a key competitive advantage in today’s global economy.”

APAC delivers tailored solutions to leading companies in many industries, including communications, education, financial services, government, healthcare, insurance, retail, technology, transportation and logistics, travel and hospitality and utilities. Headquartered in Illinois, APAC currently operates at the following locations in Arizona:

·       Tucson East: 1650 S. Research Loop, Tucson, AZ  85710
·       Tucson West: 2929 E. Corona Road, Tucson, AZ  85756
·       Phoenix: 20401 N. 29th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ  85027

In terms of the jobs that are coming to the state, Jones commented, “We’re excited about the opportunities we’re bringing to local communities. For us, it’s not simply about jobs. It’s about providing a chance for people to build a rewarding career and make a difference within our company.”

The new jobs created by this expansion are full-time positions that will work to support major clients. The positions will include both call center, leadership and support roles.


Tractor Supply Company plans Arizona distribution center

Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ: TSCO), the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States, announced Monday plans to build a new distribution center in Casa Grande, Ariz.

“The addition of a new distribution center in the Southwest is key to our western expansion strategy,” said Greg Sandfort, president and CEO. “Arizona’s proximity to our Western stores provides an ideal location for our new facility which will allow us to achieve lower transportation costs and faster delivery to our stores. Casa Grande has an excellent workforce, and we appreciate the hard work of the local and state officials who assisted us through the process.  We look forward to a very long and productive partnership with the Casa Grande community.”

The Phoenix office of JLL completed the 100-acre land sale that will bring a new Tractor Supply Company distribution center to the rail-served, 416-acre Central Arizona Commerce Park in Casa Grande.

“It is exciting to welcome Tractor Supply and to continue to bring manufacturing and distribution-focused companies together in Casa Grande,” said JLL Managing Director Bill Honsaker. “Central Arizona Commerce Park is about making connections – connections that link West Coast ports inland and that deliver the benefits of this very strategically located, cost effective and business-forward environment.”
Honsaker, along with JLL Managing Directors Anthony Lydon and Marc Hertzberg, are the exclusive brokers for Central Arizona Commerce Park.

“Tractor Supply Company will be a great addition to the community and will be joining many other agricultural, industrial, and commercial businesses in Casa Grande that have quick access to several transportation routes,” said Bob Jackson, Casa Grande Mayor. “We’ve worked diligently over the years to have the proper infrastructure in place for current and future growth, and have improved the efficiency of the permitting process to create a friendly business environment. We welcome Tractor Supply Company to the community and thank them for choosing Casa Grande as the site for their first western distribution center.”

Tractor Supply executives and local government officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking event today, November 17, at the Casa Grande distribution center site located in the Central Arizona Commerce Park. The facility is expected to begin operating in the fourth quarter of 2015 and will be approximately 650,000 square-feet in size, with the potential to create more than 250 local jobs.

“The new Tractor Supply investment will bring needed jobs to the Casa Grande community,” said Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “This further bolsters the city’s position in building out a future industrial employment corridor, and we are excited to have them in the region.”

Tractor Supply Company’s new distribution center will have the potential to service approximately 250 stores in the Southwest region. Currently, the company operates more than 1,360 stores in 49 states across the country.

“We are thrilled that Tractor Supply Company selected Casa Grande for expansion and thank them for investing in Arizona,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Our state’s strategic Southwest location and world-class infrastructure system provide companies a platform to access key regional and global growth markets, which help to advance their businesses and long-term corporate success.”

Central Arizona Commerce Park provides a premier distribution facility for the Southwest and is situated near the confluence of the I-10 and I-8 offering access to other regional infrastructure assets supporting businesses operating in Casa Grande and the broader region.

insight enterprises - cloud messaging solutions

Zenefits will create 1,300 Jobs at new Scottsdale office

Today the Greater Phoenix Economic Council was joined by the Arizona Commerce Authority, Maricopa County and the City of Scottsdale in welcoming Zenefits to the Greater Phoenix region.

Zenefits, the free, cloud-based human resources technology company that automates and eliminates time-consuming paperwork for small and medium-sized businesses, announced today plans to create over 1,300 new full-time jobs over the next three years, and the launch of a new, nearly 100,000-square-foot office in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“We’re thrilled to open our new office in Scottsdale, which will allow Zenefits to meet the growing demand from thousands of small businesses who want to focus on their people instead of paperwork,” said Parker Conrad, CEO and co-founder of Zenefits. “The greater Phoenix area has a talented workforce and an expanding tech community, and Zenefits is excited to grow our team both here and in San Francisco.”

Zenefits is widely considered to be one of the fastest-growing tech companies in recent history. Its user base is on track to grow 1,600 percent in 2014, and in a little over one year in business, the company has signed up more than 2,000 businesses serving over 50,000 employees across 47 states.

This is the largest expansion from a California-based tech company into the Greater Phoenix region since PayPal in 2010. Zenefits has already hired 60 new local employees, and plans to expand to more than 1,300 full-time employees within the next three years. The company’s new office will occupy 94,000 square feet of office space in the Scottsdale Galleria Corporate Center.

“We want to welcome Zenefits to Scottsdale, where it joins a growing field of exciting and innovative tech companies who are drawn here by all the elements that ensure a motivated, skilled workforce, an outstanding quality of life and a positive business environment,” said Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane. “We are delighted to welcome Zenefits to Scottsdale – they will be an incredible addition to our business community and our City’s economy.”

The expansion into Scottsdale will enable the company to meet the needs of its rapidly increasing customer base. Zenefits is now in the process of hiring a range of new employees for the Scottsdale office, including HR specialists, sales representatives, account managers and executives, and client support staff. Zenefits currently employs more than 390 workers in its San Francisco headquarters, up from just 15 at the beginning of the year.

“Zenefits is one of the fastest-growing tech companies in America, and we are tremendously excited that its leadership selected Arizona for a major expansion that will advance its corporate growth goals,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “Our state’s surging technology ecosystem and highly-educated workforce continue to attract innovative companies seeking to develop operational hubs to help drive business growth and enhance their competitiveness across the country.”

Zenefits automates a wide range of time-consuming, administrative HR tasks that companies otherwise have to handle manually, including: benefits and payroll, hiring, taxes and compliance, employee life events, health insurance and more. Zenefits’ cloud-based HR platform connects seamlessly to a company’s existing third-party benefits systems, so that businesses and employees can manage these systems from a single, beautifully designed dashboard.

“We are thrilled that Zenefits chose the Greater Phoenix region for its first big expansion,” said Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “Zenefits will provide a substantive impact to the innovation ecosystem, creating 1,300 new jobs in the ICT sector over the next three years, spurring growth and contributing to our broader economy.”

The core Zenefits service is 100 percent free to customers because it is able to collect fees from all kinds of benefit providers. This unique business model is one of the reasons Zenefits has been able to attract so many users so quickly. As of June, the company has raised $84 million from prominent investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), and Academy Award-winning actor and investor Jared Leto.

Trucks CrossingBorderat Nogales

4 big ideas shaking up Arizona-Mexico trade

While all of us have no doubt been busy getting enlightened by the endless stream of political TV ads, there have been lots of exciting things happening to grow Arizona’s cross-border trade profile with our neighbor Mexico.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match Dennis Smith and the team at the Maricopa Association of Governments deserve applause for the launch of the new website, BIEN, which not only means “good” or “right” in Spanish and French, but is an acronym for Building an International Economic Network.

Via BIEN, businesses in Arizona can set up an online profile that can connect them with buyers and sellers beyond our borders. Users can search for a business by distance, industry type or name.

As MAG Chair and Youngtown Mayor Michael LeVault said, the site “allows companies in Arizona, Mexico and Canada to directly connect with each other using technology instead of travel to broaden their customer base.”

BIEN is a great new tool in Arizona’s trade toolbox. Kudos to MAG for making it happen.

Down Mexico way Years since it was shuttered, Arizona once again has an official presence in Mexico’s political and economic capital city.

I was proud to join recently a delegation of about 70 business, academic and political leaders led by Arizona Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and House Speaker Andy Tobin, for the official ribbon-cutting in Mexico City of the state’s new trade office, a joint project with the city of Phoenix. U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Wayne, the consummate diplomat and an outstanding representative our country’s interests, was on hand to mark the special occasion.

Before the new office’s opening, not only was Arizona falling behind border state competitors like Texas and California, but even states like Iowa maintained a presence in Mexico City. Meanwhile, Arizona was nowhere to be found in Mexico’s largest city, despite Mexico being our state’s largest export market.

Re-opening the office is the right move at the right time. We have seized on this unique moment in Mexico’s history. Reform-minded President Enrique Peña Nieto has positioned his country to grow rapidly by opening Mexico’s energy sector to foreign investment. With a new trade office, Arizona and Mexico businesses alike now have a one-stop shop to start making the connections that will remind folks on both sides of the border of what an incredible asset our international border is to our economy.

As Gov. Brewer said, “As long as we continue to pursue and capitalize on important business and investment opportunities, we will enjoy a strong, continually thriving and mutually-beneficial partnership with Mexico long into the future.”

A port of opportunity The newly redesigned Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales is open for business just as the busy produce season is ready to kick into high gear.

The Chamber’s Garrick Taylor blogged about the new port last week, but the big takeaway is that while a redesigned Mariposa is great for Arizona-Mexico trade, its value will be diminished if the feds don’t adequately staff the inspection booths. Even the most modern port of entry can’t efficiently move cargo if there’s not enough personnel to carry out the inspections.

Kudos to the entire Arizona congressional delegation, which last week sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson making clear that Arizona’s land border ports have real staffing needs that need to be addressed.

Expand the travel zone When former Mexico President Vicente Fox was in town a few weeks ago, the MAG team touted the effort it’s leading to expand Arizona’s travel zone statewide to Mexico visitors. The idea makes a lot of sense, and it’s something the Chamber supports.

Under current law, Mexican nationals with a valid Border Crossing Card (BCC) entering Arizona at certain land border ports can travel only as far north as Tucson before being required to secure further documentation and pay an extra fee. Traveling to places like Phoenix or Flagstaff requires an extra step and increased hassle in what should be a more seamless process. After all, the travelers who have valid BCCs have already been vetted at a U.S. consulate in Mexico, they still undergo inspection at the port of entry and, if the inspecting officer desires, the traveler can still be referred for more involved secondary screening or even be denied entry.

Doing paperwork with travelers who want to visit the Grand Canyon or go shopping in Scottsdale is not a good use of limited Customs and Border Protection personnel resources. Arizona’s travel zone has been expanded once before. It’s time to open up the whole state to Mexican tourism.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.


Manufacturers Find Business-Friendly Environment In Arizona

Gov. Jan Brewer has done a lot to make Arizona more competitive for manufacturing, economic development leaders say.

“The repeal of the energy sales tax on gas and electricity is very big for us,” says Mark Dobbins, co-chairman of the Arizona Manufacturing Partnership at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We have a business friendly reputation and this change makes a big difference in our attractiveness to manufacturing.”

But there is one piece of the puzzle that still creates concern.

“Businesses wanting to relocate to Arizona are impressed with the business-friendly climate in the state,” Dobbins continues. “The question I hear most is, ‘Will I find an educated and experienced workforce for my business?’”

Concerns over education bring the Partnership and other economic development advocates around to the next focus — a quality, educated workforce to serve Arizona’s growing job demand. The conversation started with business, the community colleges, state universities and schools during the depths of the recession.

“The tax cut makes a major difference for a corporation,” says Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. “Tesla, if it locates here, saves $30 million to $40 million a year with that bill in place.”

Broome considers SB1413 the most important bill for business in the current session. “The (manufacturers electricity sales tax) exemption brings us in line with most of the rest of the country; only 15 states had such a tax. For big power users, this is a make-or-break proposition. High technology companies spend more on power than payroll.”

“Continuous innovation is what keeps Arizona competitive in manufacturing,” says Sandra Watson, CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We believe that the future is in research and development and Arizona has one of the most competitive R&D tax credits in the country.”

The ACA manages that tax credit and it’s not handed out lightly or just for large manufacturers. The state has seen much of its manufacturing employment growth, now six percent of the workforce, from the smaller businesses. The ACA makes the credit available to any sized qualifying firm.

The state’s manufacturing history is sometimes lost in the ads for golf courses and new subdivisions. “We have a history of solid manufacturing in the state that goes back 50 or 60 years,” recounts Steve Macias, president and CEO of Pivot Manufacturing, Arizona Commerce Authority board member, and chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council, which falls under the umbrella of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “This gives us a solid workforce with experience, ability and productivity that is a plus for any manufacturer wanting to relocate or expand.

In addition to the cut on the utility sales tax, SB1484 was another breakthrough for manufacturers. The bill created energy tax credits that can be claimed by manufacturers generating renewable energy to power Arizona operations.

Dobbins says that Arizona has all the right assets in place for manufacturing today, but can’t rest on what we have now for the future. “We need to invest more to build our assets up,” he says. “We need a lot of work to build our competitive logistics infrastructure.”

He lists logistics where the state needs to invest more money and projects. “We’re in great shape when it comes to passenger traffic with Sky Harbor and (Phoenix-Mesa) Gateway airports. We need to do more for air freight.”

Dobbins believes Arizona’s manufacturing future is in building our exports with Canada, Mexico and South America. He’s not alone in that view. State Transportation Board Member Joseph La Rue emphasizes the same position. “Interstate 11 makes this market a crossroads. Right now, we’re just connected to the east and west.”

The state is taking effective action, says Macias. “With the change in (sales tax on energy) and (research and development) tax credit, we’re a state that is very appealing to a capital intensive business. Arizona is moving in the right direction.”

Arizona’s manufacturing opportunities are spread across the state. Most people think of Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma as the places where the businesses cluster, but small manufacturers are seeing emerging markets in Flagstaff, Prescott and Kingman, according to Dobbins.

With the tax credits and incentives offered through the ACA and some local governments, Macias says a small manufacturer can take advantage of an underemployed workforce in a rural area. Arizona provides significant tax credits and incentives for businesses to train and develop their employees. These come through ACA and the Department of Economic Security Workforce Arizona programs.

“We’ve always had aerospace, defense and semiconductors as our base,” says Broome. “We’re starting to build manufacturing industry clusters in high technology glass. GT Advanced Technology in Mesa and Rioglass Solar Steel in Surprise are a start. Once businesses start to cluster, more become interested because it means there’s a growing, skilled workforce.”

“We need to do more to build our workforce,” says Dobbins. “Arizona has consistently underfunded education and we’re paying that cost now. Common Core standards will give us a business-accepted measure of how our workforce stacks up. We don’t just mean in college education, but also in the important areas of technical education.”

“Common Core (education standards) are driven by business so that there is a national standard of comparison,” says Macias. “We’ve been working on the need for a trained and educated workforce so that we don’t slip into a deep recession in the future. We were too dependent on construction.”
Arizona needs to get the word out, experts say.

“When people come in to Sky Harbor, they’re overwhelmed with ads for golf, resorts and housing,” muses Macias. “That’s why they’re here in the winter. We need to overwhelm them with a message of what we do in Arizona. We do a lot, and we do it very well.

Innovators get boost from Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) has selected 18 recipients for AZ Fast Grant, a highly competitive grant program that provides qualified Arizona-based, early stage technology companies with intensive training and technical assistance to help them commercialize their innovations, grow their businesses and create quality jobs.

“Early stage companies play a key role in developing innovations that fuel our state’s economy,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “The AZ Fast Grant program helps companies with critical training, technical expertise and the ‘know how’ to secure additional funding and commercialization opportunities to propel their businesses.”

Companies may use AZ Fast Grant awards for professional consulting services (that may include an expert review of technology under development); a commercialization feasibility study; or other commercialization assistance such as training to compete more effectively for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding programs.

More than 50 Arizona small businesses applied for this round of the AZ Fast Grant program and awardees represent a variety of target industries.

AZ Fast Grant Recipients include (Total: $141,000, plus an additional $134,000 in leveraged funds):

* Arbsource, Tempe – Bio & Life Sciences
* Arizona Medical Systems, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Elliptical Mobile, Chandler – Advanced Manufacturing
* Engineering Science Analysis Corp., Tempe – Aerospace/Defense
* Grannus, Tucson – Cleantech/Renewable Energy
* Hildeez Enterprises, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* MediCoventures, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Movement Interactive, Laveen – Bio & Life Science
* Kulira, Peoria – Bio & Life Science
* Prime Solutions Group, Goodyear – Aerospace/Defense
* QuantTera, Scottsdale – Advanced Materials
* Saccadous, Scottsdale – Bio & Life Science
* Score Algae, Scottsdale – Cleantech/Renewable Energy
* SiO2 Nanotech, Phoenix – Advanced Materials
* StatTransfers, Flagstaff – IT-Software
* Verve, Peoria – Bio & Life Sciences
* Vicinity Health, Chandler – Bio & Life Sciences
* YourLabs, Tucson – IT-Software

“I can honestly say the AZ Fast Grant really helped us get over the hump,” said Joe Marvin, Founder and President of Prime Solutions Group, a systems engineering and IT services company providing consulting expertise to government and defense contractors. Prime Solutions Group received AZ Fast Grant awards this year and in 2013.

With the help of AZ Fast Grant program support and technical expertise, the company recently secured $1 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for its SBIR/STTR program submission this past fall. “We used our last AZ Fast Grant for commercialization strategy development, and that went directly into our federal proposal,” said Marvin.

Phoenix eyes Mexico City Trade Office

The Phoenix City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to move forward with plans to partner with the Arizona Commerce Authority to open an Arizona Trade Office in Mexico City.

“Phoenix is taking the right steps to become a global city, and we’re ready to open our first trade office in Mexico City,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “This partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority demonstrates that we’re all committed to increasing exports, and that we know we can be more effective if we work together.”

The City, ACA and other regional partners plan to collaborate in the same office space in Mexico City. The partnership will better leverage the City’s investment and lower overall costs.

The City Council also voted to authorize the firm Molera Alvarez to represent and advance the City of Phoenix’s efforts with Mexico, specifically in the areas of trade, promotion, foreign direct investment and tourism.

Galleria Corporate Center 1, WEB

Weebly expands to Arizona, signs 25KSF Scottsdale lease

Weebly, a website creation service based in San Francisco, has signed a 25,000-square-foot office lease at the Galleria Corporate Centre, 4301 N. Scottsdale Rd. The office space will serve as the company’s North American customer operations headquarters to support its growing customer base.

Weebly’s expansion to Scottsdale will have a significant impact on the city’s economy. T The total economic impact over the course of the five-year lease term is estimated to be $256 million, according to an economic impact analysis provided by the City of Scottsdale. The company plans to bring more than 250 new positions to the city over the next three years, and will support more than two million customers from its Scottsdale office location.

“We’re extremely excited to open our new customer operations headquarters in Scottsdale. There is an amazing pool of quality talent in the area,” said David Rusenko, co-founder of Weebly. “With support from the city and the Arizona Commerce Authority, we’re looking forward to building a world-class team to support the success of our customers globally.”

The location, in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, will allow Weebly to hire local talent to lead customer sales and support operations. Roles will include: customer sales and support specialists, team leaders, trainers, quality assurance and additional roles to be added in the future. Each new employee will become part of the company’s larger mission to help anyone start their something and easily build a business, website, blog or online store.

“The expansion of Weebly to Scottsdale was a collective effort by the city and our regional economic development partners to continue building Scottsdale’s software and technology sector,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “I am very pleased to welcome Weebly to Arizona and to Scottsdale.”

“It’s very fulfilling watching innovative clients like Weebly expand beyond their headquarters to new locations throughout the country,” said Cushman & Wakefield Senior Director Jon Dishotsky of San Francisco, who leads Weebly’s brokerage team along with Ryan Bartos and Matt Coxhead of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc.
“After scouting several markets, including Denver and Austin, we were thrilled to partner with our Arizona colleagues to secure a great expansion location at Galleria Corporate Centre. The space is not only centrally located in Scottsdale, but also part of a bustling 24-7 lifestyle center, a feature important to Weebly’s unique culture,” Dishotsky said.

“This is a huge win for Scottsdale,” Bartos said. “It is exciting to see a company like Weebly expand into the Arizona market and bring some vibrancy to an already strong and growing technology tenant base. We believe this trend will continue and we look forward to witnessing their future success.”

Weebly was represented by Dishotsky and Cutter MacLeod of Cushman & Wakefield’s San Francisco office and Bartos and Coxhead of the Phoenix office. The landlord, Stockdale Capital Partners, was represented by Bryan Taute of CBRE.
“Weebly was also fortunate to have the support and guidance of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and Scottsdale Economic Development Department to assist in this expansion,” Dishotsky said.

Each month, 175 million people visit more than 20 million Weebly sites worldwide. In the U.S., 33 percent of the total Internet population visits a Weebly site each month, up from 25 percent in 2013. As more people embrace the concept of the personal economy and starting a business of their own, Weebly is seeing tremendous demand for its technology which enables anyone to easily and affordably create a high-quality website, blog or online store to bring their unique idea to the world.

“Globally-focused companies continue to choose Arizona to achieve their goals for growth, and our highly skilled and available workforce is among our key advantages attracting corporate investment and expansions to the state,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “We thank Weebly for selecting Scottsdale to expand its operations, and are excited to see the company help more businesses across the U.S. connect with their customers and grow through Weebly’s innovative web and e-commerce platform.”