Bill to extend Arizona Commerce Authority four years clears House committee

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed legislation to extend the Arizona Commerce Authority, the state’s lead economic development agency, for an additional four years. 

The bill, HB 2417, was sponsored by Rep. David Livingston (R-Peoria). 

“It’s our job as the ACA to ensure that we are putting Arizona’s best foot forward,” ACA President and CEO Sandra Watson said during her committee testimony. “We take the client from the very beginning of those initial conversations all the way through the site selection process.” 

The competition is fierce when it comes to landing big economic investments, Watson said, citing electric vehicle manufacturer Lucid, which considered 13 states before deciding to locate in Casa Grande. The carmaker, which manufactures the Air model, recently announced its footprint is expanding to also manufacture the Gravity SUV. 

Other big wins the ACA can point to since its formation include semiconductor manufacturer TSMC in north Phoenix, LG’s battery manufacturing complex in Queen Creek, and several other battery manufacturing operations, including American Battery Factory’s first lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cell gigafactory in the United States, which will occupy two-million square feet in Tucson. 

Broadband office 

In addition to attracting new business to Arizona, Watson explained that the ACA also oversees the state’s broadband program, ensuring rural communities have access to high-speed internet service. 

“The broadband infrastructure program is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the state of Arizona,” she said. “We’ve received nearly a billion dollars in funding to ensure that all Arizonans and all our households across the state are connected and have access to the internet.” 

International trade offices 

ACA also oversees several international trade offices, including in Asia. 

“With the recent openings of both the Taiwan office and South Korea, we’ve already seen a substantial number of new leads, new projects, that are considering Arizona,” Watson said. 

ACA also operates offices in Mexico, Israel, and Frankfurt. 

“The relationship with Mexico is an important part of our strategy for a number of reasons. Not only are we able to work on a business attraction strategy for some companies who are interested in coming to Arizona, but we also have a significant number of companies in Arizona that want to export to companies in Mexico. The Lucid Motors project was, I think, a perfect example of the relationship we have with Mexico, where we were able to bring Lucid Motors here to Arizona, but they needed to access suppliers that were in Mexico.” 

Strong business community support 

The business community is a strong backer of the ACA’s continuation, with associations representing businesses of all types and sizes registering their support, as well as individual companies like Raytheon, Google, Honeywell, Microsoft, and many more urging continuation. 

“If you go back to 2008, we were lucky to go to a ribbon cutting for 250 jobs,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “We’re knocking that out of the park now.” 

Seiden said it is important the ACA receives a multiyear continuation so that employers exploring Arizona for new investment can have confidence in the stability of the agency and so that projects already in motion aren’t interrupted. 

The bill passed with bipartisan support, 14-2, with one member, Julie Willougby (R-Chandler), voting present. It now heads to the Rules Committee and then to the full House for a vote.

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