As 2018 approaches, the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) Government Affairs Committee is developing its policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session.   

Economic development is a fast-paced field with changing needs for success. We have met with like-minded organizations from across the state, held rural roundtables and listened to our members on the front line of economic development. Our priorities for 2018 include: 

  • Retaining and modernizing economic development programs
  • Ensuring a qualified workforce and workforce pipeline
  • Funding transportation and infrastructure
  • Opposing unreasonable budget sweeps and unfunded mandates to local governments
  • Enhancing access to capital

We will be watching the “sunset review” of the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA). Over the last five years, the ACA has helped diversify Arizona’s economy.  

AAED values the ACA for its economic development leadership. From FY2013–2017, the ACA has exceeded its goals for projected jobs and capital investment, and achieved 98 percent of its goal for projected wages. In light of such strong performance and with the support of our partner organizations, AAED will strongly advocate for renewal of the ACA’s charter. 

Development of a highly qualified workforce is top-of-mind for economic development stakeholders. From enhancing STEM-related craft training to supporting the Technology and Research Initiative Fund, which uses Proposition 301 revenue, broad support exists for continuing funding and programs that fuel innovation technologies and industries. To continue diversifying our state’s economy with high wage jobs in sectors such as information technology, aerospace and healthcare, AAED will support policies that boost Arizona’s education ecosystem.   

AAED continues to request that the Legislature addresses future transportation needs to maximize Arizona’s economic competitiveness. We encourage infrastructure development, maintenance and improvement. We support the proper utilization of the Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) by opposing the diversion of funds to other governmental programs.    

During the economic downturn, the Arizona Legislature made local jurisdictions responsible for funding state mandates, such as road maintenance and correctional facilities costs. With a now growing economy, we request that the Legislature revisits budget sweeps and unfunded mandates.  

Access to capital will aid economic developers in attracting and retaining high quality jobs, and will accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship. AAED will support initiatives in this area that will allow us to stay competitive, both nationally and globally.   

The 2018 legislative session will see many other economic development issues arise. If you would like to participate in strengthening Arizona’s economy and shaping its economic development policies, please join AAED today at  

Keyvan Ghahreman is the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s governmental affairs chair and director of client and preconstruction services at Willmeng Construction, Inc.