Joint Efforts Help Create Economic Development

Original Article Posted by David McGlothlin, AZ Big Media 

When a company relocates to a region, it creates a lot of benefits that spin off to the entire broader region, county and state as a whole.

Mayors, city officials, economic development teams and groups are working together to facilitate more economic development opportunities throughout the state by finding the right locations that best serve the needs for new businesses.

“A lot of things make the economy tick,” says Jim Rounds, president of Rounds Consulting Group. “We are doing a great job of storytelling on the marketing side — on the front end — with why Arizona is a great state to do business in.”

Arizona is largely considered a business-friendly environment with favorable tax rates, regulatory policies and operating costs.

Areas like Foreign Trade Zones create significant tax advantages for companies serving international markets. Cheap land and energy aids in delivering the needed transportation and utility infrastructure for businesses and more economic development. Throughout his career, Rounds has delivered hundreds of presentations to policymakers, government officials and public and private business leaders in metro and rural communities across the state about economic development and public policy.

But economic development is not a one-size-fits-all model.

Some communities are still better suited to meet the needs of a particular company based on its industry or the market it serves.

Rounds says overall, Arizona is doing a terrific job in working together to market the advantages it provides businesses to niche industries.

Once economic developers understand the economic data and dynamics within a community, then they can leverage the surrounding assets to attract companies to the area and advance the community.

Aerospace and defense

For instance, Arizona has established itself as a hot spot for the aerospace and defense industry, which is home to 1,200 companies, including Raytheon, Honeywell, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

According to the Arizona Commerce Authority, A&D contributes 5.91 percent to Arizona’s gross domestic product, the third-largest contribution by any state in the nation.

Mignonne Hollis, the executive director of the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation in Sierra Vista, says this region doesn’t have as much air traffic as larger metro areas, making it an excellent climate for flying and testing.

That makes sense that the country’s largest provider of guided missiles, Raytheon, which has a major presence in Southern Arizona.

“Each community needs to figure out what data is relevant to them, how to tell their story,” says Rounds. “It’s not rocket science, but you need people working on solutions for economic development issues without egos and with collaboration.”


John Lewis, former mayor of Gilbert and current president and CEO of East Valley Partnership, points to Downtown Gilbert and Heritage Marketplace as a great success story of public/private partnerships that created a thriving mixed-use development with retail, restaurants, bars and entertainment options.

Although Heritage Marketplace seems like an overnight success story, it was actually 30 years in the making, Lewis says.

During his tenure as mayor, Lewis says he learned, “The best way to sell my local community was to sell Arizona, sell Greater Phoenix, sell my sub-region, then I can sell my own municipality.”

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Original Article Posted by David McGlothlin, AZ Big Media