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Arizona Suffering Similar Issues to Ireland, Plans for Future

We recently had our colleagues from the wonderful Arizona State University over with the US venture capitalists for Invest Ireland. It was interesting to see an article earlier this morning from Business Insider on cities in the US who have lost most in the downturn and to see that Phoenix Arizona was on the list. The numbers will be somewhat familiar to Irish viewers as they mirror our own state of affairs.

1.0%  decline in gross metro product since peak

11.0% decline in employment since peak

45.6% decline in home prices since peak

They also have a new water tax, which is something that will probably come in a raft of new taxes in Ireland.

For many years, Arizona enjoyed the Sun Belt boom. Drawn by relatively low costs and a high standard of living, new residents flocked to the state from all over the country. Arizona experienced growth not only in housing, but also in many high-tech fields. But the latest downturn has vividly demonstrated that unfocused growth is not the path to stable long-term prosperity. Like the rest of the country, Arizona is confronting tough choices as it navigates a serious recession. But, like Ireland, they compete directly with neighbouring States such as Utah, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas.

Arizona’s state, regional, and university leaders have already made efforts to stimulate elements of a high-tech economy, including the creation of development plans in several key industries. A new report called  “Charting a Course for Arizona’s Technology-Based Economic Development” assesses where Arizona stands in light of those previous efforts and examines the best courses of action for building on that initial momentum.

Recommendations in the report include:

– Plans to further develop the technology clusters around state universities and improve the ease of technology transfer

– Expand programs—and make a concerted effort to retain graduates— in engineering and applied sciences, especially in those fields in high demand by local employers, while utilizing two-year colleges to train local workers for entry- level positions

– Keep and grow high-tech companies by providing coordinated assistance for firms at all levels of government and improving access to capital

– Implement an incentive-based strategy in green technology, especially solar energy

– Develop and execute a comprehensive strategic plan led by government, industry, and universities, and guarantee funding over several years to produce results

Arizona has pivotal resources with which to pursue more aggressive technology-based development. It is home to three large research universities (Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University) and several mature high-tech industries. The state also has in place organizations dedicated to promoting technology growth, such as Science Foundation Arizona, and boasts a unique ability to attract businesses and talent from around the country

Arizona seem to be bringing all the elements together. In Ireland, as was pointed out at the Long Debate in which I was a participant last week, we are very good at producing reports. Lots of reports. Sometimes it is hard to see how all the reports, and policy developments, and agreements like those with the Public sector unions, all tie together. Perhaps we need a One Plan, One Implementation method.

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