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What is your perspective on the importance of talent and workforce development as a key economic driver?

Businesses look for three factors when determining their next corporate move – competitive tax structure, regulatory environment and access to highly skilled talent. Arizona is known as a top state for the quality and availability of its workforce – ranking No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in higher education degree opportunities. We are fortunate in that we have world-renowned university systems and community colleges graduating the best-qualified and most brilliant minds in high-demand disciplines. But we must continue to align industry and academia to better prepare our workforce. That’s why the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) continues to execute its Sector Strategies, which have become a national model. The strategies provide an ongoing commitment to bringing together industry and education to cultivate a highly skilled workforce.

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Why does the ACA invest in and support economic development initiatives?

The ACA was created by historic legislation – the Arizona Competitiveness Package, which was a bold plan that overhauled our tax system, streamlined our regulatory structure, developed a portfolio of incentives and honed our focus on business recruitment, expansion and creation. The ACA is the state’s premier economic-development arm. We are committed to attracting quality companies to the state and helping existing companies to create quality jobs for the economic health and well-being of Arizona.

Sandra Watson President & CEO Arizona Commerce Authority

Regarding the TREO Blueprint Update, why is the committee you serve on in this strategic planning initiative important to you?

I am proud to serve on TREO’s Business Environment committee, focusing on strengthening Arizona’s competitiveness, business-friendly environment, incentives and more. To attract highvalue, high growth-potential companies, Arizona must improve upon its competitiveness and incentive offerings. What is the outlook for your agency in 2014?

I could not be more excited about the future. The ACA is working with more than 400 companies that are in various stages of expansion and relocation decisions. We are working on bold initiatives that I believe will elevate Arizona as a leader in economic development. The ACA serves as a corporate connector, a problem-solver for the state and will continue to be a go-to leader in credible data for businesses. We are also adopting an idea that I call “economic development without boundaries” – one that capitalizes on Arizona’s assets and leverages the attributes of our neighbors, specifically California and Mexico. We are building an action plan to capitalize on these strengths. Biz

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