September 4, 2018
As the new Chair of the EDC, it was my pleasure to host discussions about topics of importance to our region. The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) has had a tremendous economic impact and return on investment for education in Maricopa County. Economic studies show a direct impact to state and local governments via tax revenues and public sector savings. MCCCD also has contributed to the local business community, with state and local governments collecting a total of $1.9 billion in added taxes by the end of a student's career. During this month's Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting, we hosted another discussion about education, economic diversity and the direct influence on our economic growth.
During the September EDC meeting, we spoke about Achieve60AZ, an initiative with a goal of seeing 60 percent of Arizonans graduating with a post-secondary education by 2030. The discussion continued with Jim Rounds, President of Rounds Consulting Group Inc., who gave an economic overview of the region. Mr. Rounds described healthy economic growth in Arizona, but reminded us that being prepared for downturns is necessary to preserve a strong economy. One way to keep a healthy economy is to diversify industries. MAG has worked with elected officials in Maricopa County to pursue economic diversification by forming the Ari-Son Megaregion Council. An Ari-Son meeting recently took place this past August. Vice Mayor Luna spoke about the success of the meeting and the willingness of Arizona and Sonora to work together.
As Chair, I look forward to identifying opportunities for our cities and towns to collaborate to become more globally competitive with other regions. I look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with Mexico, as well as Canada. It also is important to continue our work on education and workforce, in addition to supporting the MAG transportation efforts.
Education, workforce pipeline and preparing Arizona students for future education and employment continue to be topics of high interest to the MAG Economic Development Committee. Maricopa Community Colleges Chief Strategy Officer Sasan Poureetezadi presented on how Maricopa Community Colleges is contributing to our region through an economic impact of $7.3 billion statewide. The Maricopa Community College District is the largest provider of public higher education in the State of Arizona. Achieve60AZ Executive Director Rachel Yanof presented on the Achieve60AZ initiative, which has a goal of having 60 percent of Arizonans achieve a college degree or certificate by the year 2030. To achieve the initiative's goal, the focus will be to increase the number of high school graduates, increase the number of high school graduates pursuing post-secondary education, increase completion rate of higher education students, and engage workers in higher education while still employed. Also during this agenda item, City of Mesa Vice Mayor Luna provided an overview on the Latino Student Conference held at the Mesa Community Colleges. This conference has the goal of encouraging more Latino students to engage in post high school education.
Arizona's economy has improved significantly since the Great Recession. Rounds Consulting Group Inc. President Jim Rounds provided an update on the economy, the State's budget and policies, and the effects on local governments. The U.S. real GDP and employment rate have been growing steadily. Key factors that matter in growing the economy are tax rates, economic development programs, workforce, transportation infrastructure, marketing, responsible regulations and a balanced budget. It is important to include the return on investment (ROI) component in the tax policy discussion and ways of getting the best ROI with limited resources. Many of the higher-wage jobs that Arizona is landing are a result of the increasing talent in the region. There are many efforts happening behind the scenes that are trying to find the best way to increase resources for the education system. Other revenue opportunities discussed include applying taxes to services, digital goods and gaming, and limiting sales taxes.
Mexico is Arizona's number one trading partner. Arizona-Mexico trade was $15.5 billion in 2017 and more than $42 billion worth of goods are processed at Arizona ports of entry. Since 2013, the MAG Economic Development Committee has been working with neighbors in the state of Sonora on building relationships with local elected officials and business leaders to grow the economy in the Ari-Son Megaregion. On August 21, 2018, 140 people attended the Ari-Son Megaregion meeting, which was held during the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Annual Conference. Vice Mayor Luna provided a summary of the highlights of this event. Major topics at the meeting were the new political environment in Mexico; the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport SkyBridge project; and economic development, tourism and transportation infrastructure initiatives. Elected officials, business leaders and economic development professionals from Arizona and Sonora participated in the meeting. An economic development tour of ASU SkySong and Phoenix Galvanize followed the Ari-Son Megaregion event.
The next meeting of the EDC will be on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. at the MAG Office, 302 N. First Avenue, Phoenix, second floor, Saguaro Room.
The EDC E-Update is a monthly electronic newsletter providing information about the activities of the MAG Economic Development Committee. For questions regarding this e-mail, or to be removed from the distribution list, contact Denise McClafferty or Natalia Cuneo at (602) 254-6300.
Maricopa Association of Governemnts
302 North 1st Avenue, Suite 300
Phoenix, Arizona 85003