Annual Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry Awards event honors state’s leading advocates for job growth

Against the backdrop of a booming state economy, Arizona’s business and industry leaders and elected officials convened to honor a year of productive policymaking at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Annual Awards Dinner. The event celebrated the individuals whose tireless work in public service and private industry has helped to advance Arizona’s reputation as a top state to live, work, and do business.

Among the standout figures receiving accolades were State Rep. Michael Carbone, State Sen. Steve Kaiser, State Rep. Matt Gress, and Volunteer of the Year Wendy Briggs. Their hard work and dedication underscored the overall sentiment of the night — that success is built through teamwork and relentless pursuit of growth.

Chamber CEO Danny Seiden set the tone for the evening, highlighting the Chamber’s effectiveness in advocating for the state’s thriving business community. His remarks recognized attendees including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell and House Speaker Ben Toma, who concurred that the Chamber’s efforts have been instrumental in fostering the flourishing economic landscape of Phoenix and Arizona at large. 

“Phoenix has been the fastest growing city in the country; that is driven by great job quality. People move here because they know they can get a higher wage and good quality of life. We appreciate the collaborative partnership on infrastructure…the Chamber is helping us to continue the prosperity that makes Phoenix one of the greatest places to live,” Gallego said. 

“Without the help of the Chamber, the business community would be effectively voiceless and, given the complexity of the issues we’re facing right now, that is a very dangerous place to be,” Toma said.

The Senator of the Year award went to state Sen. Steve Kaiser, whose exceptional leadership on complex policy issues including housing, manufacturing, research and development, and workforce was acknowledged by the Chamber. 

In his remarks, Kaiser said he remains committed to advancing pro-business policies and will continue to support lawmakers who prioritize strengthening the state’s economy. 

Representative of the Year, state Rep. Michael Carbone, received recognition for his vital role in driving the Chamber’s priority economic development bill of the session, HB 2809. A tireless advocate, Carbone exemplified the spirit of public service with his ceaseless dedication to economic growth and fiscal strength.

As for newcomer Rep. Matt Gress, his recognition as Freshman of the Year underscored his commitment to free-market policies. Endorsed by the Chamber in his 2022 campaign, Gress has carved out a reputation for himself as a thoughtful policymaker, championing legislation that fosters economic development, fiscal responsibility, and workforce advancement.

“We must resist efforts to regulate into oblivion the magic of the Grand Canyon State: Free enterprise and wide-open opportunity for all,” Gress said. 

The 2023 Top Newsmaker Award, presented by Chamber Business News, was presented to Jay Parry, who has played a significant role in boosting Arizona’s status as a destination for large-scale events. 

As the former CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, and currently leading the organizing committee for the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, Jay’s efforts have attracted major investment and prestige to the state. Thanks to Jay, Arizona hosted the nation’s largest sporting event and the world’s largest golf tournament in the same week. 

Moreover, through her significant contributions and leadership, Arizona will now be hosting the 2026 Women’s Basketball Final Four, once again emphasizing the state’s position as a top-tier destination to host historic sporting events.

And it wasn’t just individuals who were celebrated. Intel was lauded as Corporate Citizen of the Year for its commitment to water stewardship, including a plan to be global net positive in water by 2030. 

In an effort to debunk misconceptions about water usage in Arizona, the Chamber emphasized that the state’s water consumption is lower than it was in 1957, with industrial use accounting for just 6% of the total. It praised responsible businesses like Intel for their exceptional water stewardship and community partnership.

Longtime business community advocate Wendy Briggs, founding partner of public affairs firm Veridus, was honored as the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year. Briggs chairs the Chamber’s Membership Committee and has been instrumental in growing the Chamber’s ranks and increasing the organization’s influence and effectiveness.

“Not only is Wendy one of the most respected voices at the state Capitol, but she has a deep understanding of the needs of the business community and what kind of public policy job creators need to be successful,” Chamber Vice President of Government Relations Courtney Coolidge said. “She has been a true partner of the Chamber and is so deserving of this recognition.”

Finally, the City of Chandler was celebrated for being the state’s Best City for Business. Praised for its pro-growth regulatory environment that welcomes both established businesses and startups, Chandler strikes a balance between preserving local resources and fostering the prosperity of local and large businesses alike.

The Chamber’s Annual Awards was more than a celebration; it was a testament to the progress made by individuals and entities in forging a strong economic narrative for Arizona. It underscored the message that collective success is built upon the shoulders of dedicated individuals, innovative job creators, and vibrant cities, all tirelessly working towards a singular goal: prosperity for all of Arizona.

Michael Kittilson

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