Arizona and Canada, eh?

What started out as Canadians seeking weather refuge in Arizona during the seasons with negative degree temperatures has developed into a nearly 50-year long relationship with an extensive economic impact.

Through the efforts of local leaders and the Canada Arizona Business Council, the economic impact of Canada on our state has become more clear.

CEO and Founder of the Canada Arizona Business Council (CABC) Glenn Williamson explained why Canada’s impact has been overlooked in the past. “The Canadian money and the Canadian impact is below the waterline because of the matrix that we count, which is jobs and taxes.”

“Canada is the largest foreign direct investor in the state of Arizona,” Williamson said. “So that is the movement of real money from Canada.” Foreign direct investment is not as easily and commonly tracked as some of the more obvious signs of economic impact such as trade, jobs, and tourism.

Economic development director for the city of Peoria Rick Buss described more specifically what the Canadian impact looks likes in our state.

“Arizona’s connection with Canada is strong, with nearly 900,000 air travelers between Canada and Arizona annually,” Buss said. “99% of those travelers are to/from the Phoenix Metro area.  There are approximately 290 Canadian-owned businesses in Arizona, creating nearly 30,000 jobs.  68% of Canadian-owned businesses with locations in Arizona originate from Eastern Canada (e.g. Ontario, Quebec, etc.).”

Arizona has transitioned from a place to vacation to a state where Canadians want to settle down. More than 100,000 houses in Arizona are owned by Canadians.

Director Jeanine Jerkovic for the economic development team of Surprise describes some of the specific goals that Surprise has in continuing to develop this partnership with Canada.

“First and foremost, we are building relationships with expanding companies seeking a US Southwest location and leveraging our AZ TechCelerator’s Global Concierge/Soft Landing services as an incentive for them to choose Surprise,” Jerkovic. “The Global Concierge Services program provides international companies an option to open operations in government-owned space with less upfront costs and risks, but with more support resources to assist with issues such as U.S. taxation, incorporation, marketing, language translations, banking, patent protection and other legal issues.”

Jerkovic discusses another incentive put into motion to encourage Canadians to come to Arizona. “We are advancing a pilot Surprise-Canada cross-border health care initiative, working to build a program and product that would provide more health care options for Canadians in Arizona and open up a robust medical travel market for Surprise and the region.”

Doug Bruhnke, the CEO and Founder of the Global Chamber in Arizona, echoed the importance of creating these global partnerships. “Global Chamber was formed to create connections around the world that lead to new business,” Bruhnke said. “In addition, since cities like Surprise, Peoria, Phoenix and Scottsdale have ramped up active international outreach, foreign investment is creating more jobs and opportunities for Arizonans.”

Audra Carver

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