Infrastructure, Energy, and Talent

My latest dispatch comes from South Carolina and the annual gathering of the Council of State Manufacturers Associations. I wanted to share with you three things I’ve heard from my colleagues that affect the manufacturing community and the broader economy that are top of mind for us in Arizona: infrastructure, energy, and talent.

Arizona’s largest metropolitan area needs modern infrastructure

I believe lawmakers and the governor can and will get a deal done to send a renewal of the Proposition 400 transportation sales tax to Maricopa County voters.

It’s essential. Phoenix in the latest Census was the nation’s fastest growing big city. Maricopa County in 2022 gained the greatest number of new residents nationally. The region needs modern, dependable infrastructure to get us where we need to go and to ensure that we remain a logistics hub to move freight and capture the jobs that come with it.

Road and highway congestion results in a tax we all pay. All the good stuff in those trucks doesn’t ride for free and eventually shows up on store shelves in the form of higher prices due to delays. That fresh produce imported into Arizona from Mexico is perishable. Delivery interruptions mean reduced quality and a bigger bill at the check-out line. The huge demand we’ve seen for warehouse space in the Valley dries up if we’re known more for bumper-to-bumper traffic than for the quick and efficient movement of goods.

The Legislature and Gov. Hobbs have worked together to improve the early versions of a Proposition 400 extension. Bipartisan negotiations result in better, more durable policy. The governor and legislative negotiators deserve our thanks. We’re close to the finish line. Let’s get a deal done.

Reliable energy delivery is essential to our economy

Speaking of infrastructure and sending thanks, perhaps no segment of the Arizona business community has stepped up in the last few weeks like our utilities. Under the pressure of record high temperatures, APS, SRP, and TEP have stayed cool.

Our utilities can meet the sky-high demand for electricity thanks to long-term planning, round-the-clock service and maintenance, and an energy mix that includes green sources like solar.

The entire Arizona economy is dependent on safe, affordable, and reliable energy. If it weren’t for our utilities keeping our air conditioners humming, the quality of life in this state would plummet. I’ve heard the concern from my colleagues around the country about whether their utilities will be able to meet demand. Not so in Arizona – we’re in good shape. So, thank a utility worker for all they do for our state.

Community colleges helping to ensure we can meet semiconductor manufacturers’ demand for talent

When you’re at a conference of manufacturing business advocates, Arizona’s red-hot economy – which, as I tell my colleagues, is the only thing hotter than our temperatures – and its semiconductor sector growth will always be a topic of discussion.

While I’ll never make apologies for our high-demand job market, I will acknowledge that the competition for labor is fierce, and major projects like the construction of new fabrication plants for TSMC and Intel demonstrate the need to keep the talent pipeline full.

That’s why the Maricopa Community Colleges’ Semiconductor Quick Start program is so vital. In as little as two weeks, the program can get students ready for job placement at a semiconductor firm and will even waive the tuition upon completion of a certification test.

It’s a great deal for job seekers and job creators and an example of the creative thinking and public-private partnerships we’ll need more of to ensure we’re ready for tomorrow’s jobs.

National conferences are a great opportunity to compare notes and take lessons from other states. Plenty of state leaders are taking lessons from Arizona. Let’s continue to set the example.

Danny Seiden is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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