Arizona Association for Economic Development’s (AAED) 2016 policy priorities to expand economic development to make Arizona more competitive is well underway, AAED Executive Director Joyce Grossman recently told Arizona Business Daily.
“AAED supports programs and policies that encourage businesses to expand and locate in Arizona,” Grossman said. “We urge the legislature to support legislation that enhances Arizona’s competitive position in attracting and retaining high wage jobs.”
Grossman said there are five priorities: to expand educational funding to ensure a qualified workforce, to reauthorize the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), to retain existing economic development programs, to enhance the access to capital and to fund infrastructure.
“We are having a good year so far,” Grossman said. “We had a win in February to expand education funding and are extremely pleased and applaud the governor for his support. It got immediate approval. There is always more we can do, but what we got so far is important.”
The funding supports educational programs, policies and appropriate funding that result in a college or career-bound Arizona workforce. AAED believes a qualified workforce will support Arizona’s competitiveness in the retention and attraction of quality, high-wage jobs.
“We are on record speed with legislation,” Grossman said. “The ACA has already been reauthorized as well.”
Grossman said the AAED supports the reauthorization of the ACA and the Arizona Competes Fund. The ACA, whose mission is to strengthen Arizona’s economy by facilitating quality job creation, plays a critical role in coordinating statewide efforts to support Arizona’s economy.
“AAED also has not seen anything negative happen yet to restrict economic development,” Grossman said.
Grossman said that AAED provides the tools to help expansion and retention of businesses. The chamber of commerce, higher education members and service providers, like bankers, brokers, construction workers and architects, and nonprofit members are a part of making this happen.
“We are not big enough to run our own bills, but we collaborate and support the efforts,” Grossman said.
AAED recently announced that it opposes any unnecessary changes that reduce or delay programs or tax reductions which benefit economic development. Many companies chose to relocate or expand in Arizona in part because of these programs. The need to remain consistent and competitive is more critical than ever.
“In regards to enhancing access to capital, extension and funding of the Angel Investment Tax Credit beyond 2016 is necessary to encourage more venture capital investments within Arizona,” Grossman said. “Right now it is supported, but not funded yet.”
Grossman said that AAED supports the need to fund the research and development tax credits to encourage the retention and attraction of companies and high wage jobs. They also encourage the legislature to allow companies that have earned tax credits through their investment and job creation activities to be able to apply those credits to other Arizona tax liabilities.
“Since 2001, over $1.8 billion has been diverted from Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) to pay for other government programs,” Grossman said. “Infrastructure investment leads to economic expansion in addition to impacting safety, the environment, cost of living and quality of life. Raiding HURF funds for personal purposes must stop and be rededicated to infrastructure.”
Serving as the leading statewide advocate for responsible economic development in Arizona since 1974, AAED’s foundation has been rooted in three fundamental pillars that continue to affect positive change and increase Arizona’s competitive position to attract investment and create jobs. Those pillars are collaboration, educational benefits and advocacy.
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