While all eyes on are on Washington these days to see how well the bold Trump agenda advances, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is quietly creating a case-study in how to achieve economic growth and create the jobs of the future. He is luring high-tech innovators, attracting scores of start-ups, and incentivizing corporate expansion.
A recent report found that Arizona is now home to over 8,600 tech companies, with more coming on a regular basis.
These are the types of jobs that are unlikely to be outsourced to a factory in Mexico or China. They are not only permanent, but they also pay well. Tech firms, which employed an estimated 5.3 percent of the state workforce in 2016, pay an average annual salary of $97,400, more than double the overall average wage. The bioscience and healthcare sectors alone support in excess of 100,000 jobs, generating $36 billion in annual revenue.
This didn’t happen by accident. It’s happening because of a purposely executed strategy to make Arizona the most hospitable business climate in the nation for technology jobs and digital economy careers.
Two years ago, Governor Ducey signed a bill creating a framework that allowed ridesharing companies to operate legally and safely in the state. Within seven months, the industry doubled the number of people it hired. Uber announced plans to bring on hundreds of Arizona workers to fill customer service jobs, and it just recently decided to move its fleet of autonomous vehicles to Arizona from California, attracted by a more supportive regulatory environment.
Earlier this month, Governor Ducey approved a piece of legislation that makes Arizona the first state in the U.S. to lay the regulatory groundwork for next generation (or 5G) wireless networks. By streamlining the process for permitting the small cell infrastructure that will support 5G, it paves the way for the game-changing tools and services this superfast wireless technology will offer.
5G is expected to spur the creation of 3 million new U.S. jobs. With this bill, the Arizona legislature and Governor Ducey have readied their state to share in the wealth of family-wage employment it will support.
Since he took office, among other efforts to aid entrepreneurs, Governor Ducey has also championed a crowdfunding bill that helps startups raise capital and issued an executive order that made sweeping reforms in Arizona’s occupational licensing laws. Those rules had previously been some of the most burdensome in the nation, hindering professional employment and deterring people from starting their own businesses.
Governor Ducey’s willingness to embrace new technologies and support high-tech industries continues to bear fruit. Tech companies are flocking to Phoenix and other cities. Intel, for instance announced it will invest $7 billion in a new semiconductor plant in the city of Chandler. That facility will support 3,000 high-paying jobs for technicians and engineers, with a ripple effect that will create an additional 10,000 permanent jobs throughout the Arizona economy.
Governor Ducey should be a role model for conservative chief executives, legislators, and city leaders throughout the nation. What he accomplished in Arizona can be duplicated by any other state that is willing to work with tech companies and other businesses to help them succeed.
Governor Ducey has proven that regulations and policies that support businesses, instead of standing in their way, give rise to growth and good jobs. Combined with education reform – Arizona just made education savings accounts universal for all students, the most far-reaching expansion of ESAs in the country – and it is clear Governor Ducey has Arizona boldy and excitingly heading in the right direction. This is what conservative government is all about.
With Republican governors now running 33 of the 50 states, taking a page from Governor Ducey’s playbook could supercharge the U.S. economy and job creation nationwide, for years to come.
Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, "Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity".