Arizona legislators win 2020 pro-tech awards

Arizona’s business-friendly policies have transformed the state into a hub for high tech.  Phoenix metro’s software and IT sectors are now among the largest in the nation. Tucson and Flagstaff are rapidly emerging as tech hubs for mining, health and aerospace. 

It’s a phenomenon that has occurred over the last decade, in large part because of state lawmakers advancing legislation to attract tech companies and their high-paying jobs.

To recognize their important contributions, the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Commerce Authority announced 12 winners of this year’s pro-tech legislator awards. The recipients will officially be honored for their support of technology and STEM education at the virtual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation on November 4.

Steven Zylstra

“The rapid growth of Arizona’s technology industry over the last 10 years can be attributed to our future-focused, technology-conscious legislators,” said Steven Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, the voice for the science and technology industry. “Without the support of these champions in our state’s government, none of what we do would be possible.”

Here are this year’s award winners:

Outstanding Technology Senator of the Year: David Gowan, District 14

Sen. David Gowan

Sen. David Gowan was largely responsible for shepherding legislation passed this year to extend the research and development tax credit at current levels for another 10 years, as well as extending other key economic development programs essential to growing the technology industry. 

As chair of Appropriations, Gowan has been an advocate for a balanced budget that includes incentives to attract and retain both businesses and workers.

Outstanding Technology Representative of the Year: Michelle Udall, District 25 

Rep. Michelle Udall

Rep. Michelle Udall sponsored the council’s priority STEM legislation this year that would have created a STEM ecosystem, giving more access to STEM education statewide. 

As chair of the Education Committee, she has championed bills to close achievement gaps so students from all walks of life gain access to quality education and are job-ready. Udall also has supported economic development bills to help the tech industry thrive.

Top-10 tech legislators:


Sen. Karen Fann, District 1

Senate President Karen Fann once again was a champion of the technology industry in the 2020 legislative session, continuing a trait she has demonstrated during her entire tenure. She advocated for extension of the Small Business Capital Investment Incentive, also known as the Angel Investment Tax Credit, to attract new industry. She has pushed to get the program recapitalized year after year. 

Sen. Sine Kerr, District 13

Sen. Sine Kerr helped champion the extension of important economic development programs including sponsoring the strike-everything amendment for the research and development (R&D) tax credit extension this year. 

As a family business owner, Kerr understands the need for and supports policies to eliminate government roadblocks and overregulation of industry. 

Sen. Heather Carter, District 15 

Sen. Heather Carter has been honored almost every year by the council at the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation for her tireless advocacy on issues important to the technology and business community. She continued her advocacy for education and workforce development options this year, including STEM internship opportunities. 

Sen. Sean Bowie, District 18

Sen. Sean Bowie has helped advance many bipartisan bills and economic development initiatives that helped transform Arizona into a technology hub such as advocating for community college funding and sponsoring bills for community college grants for Career and Technical Education district students. 

Sen. Lupe Contreras, District 19

Sen. Lupe Contreras has proven to be a strong leader in the Legislature who has worked to gain bipartisan consensus on bills that promote education, workforce development and economic development to create employment opportunities, especially technical jobs in his district and around the state.


Rep. Daniel Hernandez, District 2

Rep. Daniel Hernandez has been a leader in the fight for non-discrimination and equality and sponsored legislation to ensure those protections. 

He is a pro-business leader who has worked across the aisle to advance legislation that supported the technology industry, Arizona’s taxpayers and the economy as a whole.

Rep. Regina Cobb, District 5

Rep. Regina Cobb supported and helped save the extension of the Angel Investment Tax Credit program this year that helps Arizona’s startups access financing. She supported economic development programs like the extension of R&D and Qualified Facilities tax credits to attract and expand manufacturing headquarters and facilities, including manufacturing-related R&D facilities.

Rep. Jennifer Pawlik, District 17

Rep. Jennifer Pawlik sponsored legislation to ensure high school freshmen have access to CTED programs that help address Arizona’s workforce needs. She also authored an amendment that extended the Qualified Facilities and the current levels of R&D programs while also reducing the carryforward for future R&D credits. 

Rep. Jeff Weninger, District 17

Rep. Jeff Weninger has been a champion for the technology industry during his five years at the Legislature. This year, he sponsored bills dealing with blockchain, cryptocurrency and unmanned aircrafts. 

As a businessman himself, Weninger has the insight needed to help develop a business-friendly environment that attracts industry and development. 

Rep. Ben Toma, District 22

Rep. Ben Toma helped pass bills that extended economic development programs like Qualified Facilities and R&D tax credit. During his tenure, Toma has been a leader in tax policy, helping lead the charge on tax conformity and updating Arizona’s statutes to create a fair tax environment for companies in the digital marketplace.

Rep. Toma last week was recognized as the Arizona Manufacturers Council’s Legislator of the Year.For more information or to purchase tickets for the award ceremony, visit: Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards and Tech Showcase.

About the Arizona Technology Council

The council is the state’s trade association for science and technology companies. Council members work to further advance technology through leadership, education, legislation and social action. The council offers events, educational forums and business conferences to bring together leaders, managers, employees and visionaries to make an impact on the technology industry. To become a member or learn more about the organization, go to: Arizona Technology Council.

About the Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority is the state’s leading economic development organization. The ACA uses a three-prong approach to advance the  economy: attract out-of-state companies to Arizona, work with existing companies to expand their businesses; and help entrepreneurs create new businesses in targeted industries. For more information, visit: Arizona Commerce Authority.

Victoria Harker

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