How Arizona could become the nation’s next tech hub

A Forrester Research report recently ranked Arizona as the 13th best tech talent hot spot in the nation. The tech industry has helped to bolster the state economy and create thousands of new jobs with high wages.

Since 2012, Phoenix’s technology job growth rate has increased by 5.5 percent – more than the national average of 3.7 percent – and currently has over 83,000 workers. Additionally, an Arizona Technology Council (ATC) study found that the tech industry generated over 168,000 jobs and $32 million in tax revenue last year.

Rounds Consulting Group President Jim Rounds explains the high ranking can largely be attributed to Arizona’s efforts in creating a supportive climate for businesses of all sizes. “We rank highly because we’ve been much more proactive at recruiting businesses,” Rounds said. “Plus, we have been aggressive in making a good business climate through our regulatory atmosphere, taxes, and more.”

Rounds believes that although the state and its tech industry are thriving, Arizona still has significant room for growth. “We have to figure out if we want to go to that top level, where we’re constantly rated in the top 10,” he continues. “Other communities like Austin and Salt Lake are rising to the top — we have to figure out if we want to do a few things to get to that top level.”

Because this is a multivariate issue, it is not easily solved through one piece of legislation, Rounds notes. Breaching the top ten and maintaining that status will take significant thought and effort, but Rounds believes that Arizona can certainly get there – it’s all a matter of how to progress. For example, the state can’t solely invest money in education or infrastructure, nor can it just increase private taxes; while these are all significant factors, none can individually propel the state to the next level, according to Rounds.

Nevertheless, the state is on a path to become the next major tech hub. Rounds explains that the collaboration between state parties is unprecedented. He states, “I’ve never seen the business sector, the government, and organizations like the Arizona Chamber come together in such a way that they discuss these things at this level.”

Rounds believes that because of this communication, Arizona’s tech growth will continue for the foreseeable future, but so will others states’ growth. “Our economy is going to continue to grow. We’re going to be adding higher wage jobs,” he adds. “But other states are being competitive too, so we have to keep pushing if we want to keep up.”

Ben Norman

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