2018 surveys praise the state’s workforce quality as a reason site selectors consider moving or opening operations to business-friendly Arizona.
An attractive workforce has elevated Arizona in several 2018 surveys that rank states by their embrace of businesses.
That is a good sign that we are attracting and keeping high-quality workers, which encourages other companies to consider moving or starting operations here.
It also seems that Arizona has hit its stride as it finally moves away from shaky economic development efforts during the Great Recession to recovery and growth. The proof: This is the first time in a few years that all of the reports I follow did not drop Arizona in the rankings.
Here’s a look at what business owners across the country are learning about business-friendly Arizona.
Area Development magazine
The magazine that compiles the “Top States for Doing Business” rankings put Arizona back into its top 20 list at no. 12. Last year the state didn’t appear on the list.
One of the measures in the rankings is a survey of site selectors. In that metric, the magazine put Arizona at no. 6, tied with Indiana, for having a competitive environment and tied at no. 9 with Virginia for favorable utility rates. It ranked ninth for most improved economic development policies.
Arizona also earned a Silver Shovel, the magazine’s award that recognizes efforts to attract high-value investment and large projects that create jobs. Arizona earned the award in the 5- to 8-million population category.
“Arizona cashed in on financial and business services projects on its way to earning a Silver Shovel,” the magazine’s website says. Included in the top projects was Monsanto, which is building a seven-acre greenhouse in Marana.
Chief Executive magazine
Arizona remained at no. 9, the same ranking as last year, in the business magazine’s “2018 Best and Worst States for Business.”
The state’s workforce quality was considered the ninth best in the country, while its living environment was placed as the fourth best.
The magazine cited Arizona-born Chief Sciences Officers as a highlighted initiative. The now-global program identifies and supports students in sixth through 12th grades who advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Its sponsors include education and economic development advocates.
The business-news cable station put Arizona in a tie for 20th with South Dakota in its “America’s Top States for Business” in 2018. Arizona’s workforce was ranked eighth and its economy 10th.
“A surge of workers and a construction boom are closing the gap in the Grand Canyon State,” according to the CNBC website, “but schools are still struggling.”
“The Best States for Business 2018” boosted Arizona’s ranking from no. 23 in 2017 to no. 17 in 2018. The state had the biggest jump in the poll tied with Idaho for moving up six spots.
A top-10 (no. 10) ranking in the labor supply measurement helped establish business-friendly Arizona, as did a strong no. 5 ranking in growth prospects.
“The Grand Canyon State’s job and economic growth forecasts over the next five years are among the best in the U.S.,” according to the magazine’s website. “Population growth through 2022 is expected to be the third fastest in the country, as employment growth is expected to be equally strong.”
Site Selection magazine
Arizona inched up in rankings from no. 15 to a tie with Utah for no. 13 in the magazine’s “Top State Business Climate Rankings.” The Grand Canyon State beat out Utah, however, as the top business-friendly state among eight in the magazine’s mountain region. That section includes Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.
While Arizona’s executive survey ranking—important because it asks site selectors about their experiences—fell from 8 to 15, its competitive ranking inched up from 16 to 15.
Bottom line for business-friendly Arizona
I like to look at all of the year’s rankings at one time to get a good overall picture of how Arizona’s economic development efforts are working out. Tucson’s contributions play a big part of those efforts.
Programs and tax incentives aimed at workforce training and development appear to be paying off at the same time that our state still struggles with funding quality public schools and universities. It’s a big part of the puzzle that continues to need attention.
This is a crucial issue. Site selectors surveyed in Site Selection listed workforce skills as its most important location criteria. It’s good that other surveys are showing that Arizona excels in that regard.
I feel good that business-friendly Arizona is on the right track. We see it happening in the Tucson metro area, where recent business openings—Target, Amazon and HomeGoods distribution centers, as well as a Caterpillar regional headquarters and World View’s headquarters—have made site selectors take notice.