Friday, October 25, 2013

DEQ acts quickly to streamline licensing and permitting processes

Last session the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality was able to secure $5 million for an e-portal system that would allow businesses to pay for and receive licenses online. In the FY 2014 budget, Governor Brewer proposed that the Department of Administration and Department of Environmental Quality develop an e-portal that would allow regulated customers to have access to permit applications, electronic payment, and alerts through an online database. As part of the funding process, the Information Technology Authorization Committee met earlier this week to recommend to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that they release $5 million from DOA to DEQ to develop the portal. JLBC will meeting next Tuesday, October 29 at 1:00pm to approve this recommendation.

The online portal will continue to enhance Arizona’s regulatory climate by decreasing permitting and licensing wait times. Paper transactions between businesses and DEQ have proven to be inefficient and burdensome. Currently, DEQ provides approximately 70 different permits. Only three of those are available online. When the “My DEQ” portal is up and running, DEQ projects that some permit wait times could decrease by as much as 99%.

During Governor Brewer’s State of the State, she mention her “Four Cornerstones of Reform”. Among those was modernizing state government. I applaud DEQ for acting quickly and taking such a significant step towards improving and modernizing their agency and hope that the project serves as a model for all other state agencies to follow.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Celgene: Curing cancer and creating jobs in Arizona

October is not just about post-season baseball and Arizona manufacturers- it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s why it was so fitting that the latest stop on Governor Brewer’s month-long Arizona Manufacturers tour was to biopharmaceutical manufacturer, Celgene’s Phoenix plant.

Celgene employees wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Here, Celgene is manufacturing breakthrough therapies to treat melanoma and breast, lung and pancreatic cancers. These innovative treatments are improving outcomes and quality of life for patients fighting some of the most aggressive, devastating diseases of the day and Celgene’s commitment to patient support only multiplies their impact.

This Fortune 500 Company employs 4,500 people worldwide, with 250 employees here at the Phoenix plant. These jobs are high-skill, high-wage positions: the average Celgene salary is $90,000 and more than half of the Phoenix employees have a post-secondary degree. Of those with post-secondary degrees, 42 percent come from one of Arizona’s three world-class universities.

Gov. Brewer and I discuss Celgene's work to improve patient outcomes and create quality Arizona jobs

Celgene is creating high-quality jobs and a rewarding work environment for its Arizona employees. But don’t take my word for it- in 2013 a Business Insider report declared Celgene to be the best company in the country to work for, based on employee satisfaction and salaries. Celgene beat out companies like Google, Chevron and Yahoo! to earn this top honor.

We know that manufacturers create jobs that are highly satisfying, require great skill and pay competitive wages.  Celgene is doing all of this while creating life-saving cancer treatments. As I’ve mentioned, thanks to the leadership of Governor Brewer and our state legislature, Arizona is an extraordinarily friendly place for manufacturers to do business. We need to continue to do all we can to attract and expand these kinds of jobs in our state. 

 Gov. Brewer presents Celgene with the Arizona Manufacturers Month proclamation

As we enter the homestretch of the month of playoff beards and pink ribbons, we should take pride in companies like Celgene and others who are creating life-changing, innovative products right here in Arizona.

Technology and manufacturing company Medtronic saving lives and stimulating AZ economy

Governor Brewer's month-long tour of Arizona Manufacturers continued yesterday with the tour of the Medtronic campus in Tempe. Medtronic is a worldwide recognized leader in implantable microelectronic design, development and manufacturing.  Know someone who has had heart treatment? They likely have a pacemaker or defibrillator created and manufactured right here from Medtronic. Know someone affected by diabetes? Hopefully they know about Medtronic's insulin pump that is the first prescribed pump with continuous remote glucose monitoring capabilities.

The Medtronic Tempe facility

We can talk in true generalities about the importance and impact of manufacturing to Arizona's economy, but to further add credibility, I want to share with you some of Medtronic's impressive numbers.
  • 900 plus employees in Tempe (46,000 total, making it the world's largest medical device manufacturer)
  • Tempe campus is over 30 acres with 400,000 total sq. feet of building of which 100,000 sq. feet is production space
  • 272 engineers and an R&D operation
  • 16 Technical Fellows
  • 3 Bakken Fellows (this is a HUGE deal)
  •  Nearly 150 patents granted

And Good jobs! Medtronic's Tempe campus has a total payroll of approximately $100 million. The average or median salary is $113,231 for non-hourly employees.

Medtronic is a prime example of the companies that Arizona needs to grow its economy and make the state a great place to live. It is our responsibility to make sure that Arizona continues to be an environment that is inviting to innovative companies.

Gov. Brewer gives a copy of the Arizona Manufacturers
 Month proclamation to Medtronic

As the Governor outlined in her talk yesterday, Arizona has made great strides to positively set itself apart as a business-friendly state particularly in the tax and regulatory areas. I'd add that this progress has been possible thanks to the leadership of Governor Brewer and our state legislature. Through their efforts, our state has done more than any other to ensure an environment that fosters economic growth over the past several years.

Note: The post was corrected to properly reflect the tour being yesterday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MIM: The Most Extraordinary Museum You'll Ever Hear

Yesterday I had the distinct privilege of learning about the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) firsthand from its President and Director, Carrie Heinonen.

MIM offers a collection of more than 15,000 instruments, focusing on five major global regions: Africa and the Middle East; Asia and Oceania; Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean; and the United States and Canada. The MIM experience is a one-of-a-kind blending of an awe-inspiring museum collection and state-of-the-art audiovisual technology.

MIM is fun for all ages! Children especially love the 
Experience Gallery. Photo courtesy of MIM.

There may be other museums of musical instruments in the world, but none have taken on the unique task of bringing together such a broad collection of instruments from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Each section of MIM's collection transports you to a new part of the world, allowing you to experience each instrument in its original cultural setting.

MIM features instruments from around the world. Photo courtesy of MIM.

With 200,000 square feet of space, every turn in the museum reveals a new world to explore. Whether it's the music of the royal court of Rwanda or the sights and sounds of a Taylor Swift concert, visitors of all backgrounds will find something to pique their interest. 

There’s no lack of detail taken into account either. Even MIM’s architecture is meant to tell a story. The materials and patterns of the building are intended to mimic the desert landscape of Arizona and celebrate musical composition and instruments. Pay attention as you drive towards the building and you’ll recognize the familiar keys of a piano in the shape of the building’s windows.

MIM's use of Indian sandstone is meant to complement and blend with 
surrounding desert colors. Photo courtesy of MIM.

There’s no question that a city rich in cultural offerings helps to draw both new businesses and qualified professionals to a region.  These cultural elements – museums, orchestras, ballets, etc. – all help to create jobs, attract new investments, generate tax revenues, and boost the economy with additional tourism spending. A vibrant arts and culture industry is essential to the well-being of Arizona as a whole. Thankfully, Arizona has embraced this concept, welcoming establishments like MIM.

Don't miss the "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion Power" Exhibit. 
Housed in MIM's Target Gallery until April 20, 2014. Photo courtesy of MIM.

Although my career playing the violin ended unceremoniously in the fifth grade, I can tell you that MIM is an enjoyable destination for all levels of musicians and music aficionados. If you have a free afternoon, I encourage you to head over to the museum and explore

MIM truly is a gem in the crown of Arizona’s arts and culture segment.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vive Guadalajara! Chamber joins Mayor Stanton delegation in Mexico's second-largest city

Greetings from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, where I’m visiting this beautiful, culturally rich city as part of an Arizona trade delegation led by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to promote further trade, investment and tourism.

As a veteran of international trade delegations, nothing garners respect from the host city and country like having officials at the level of Mayor Stanton and Councilman Michael Nowakowski, who is also part of the delegation, on hand. With them and Gov. Jan Brewer’s policy adviser on Mexico and the executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, Margie Emmermann, on hand, it indicates a level of seriousness that can’t be matched.

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city, the capital of Jalisco and home to over 4 million inhabitants in the metro area. The city offers a stunning array of both business and tourism opportunities. On the business side, there is a growing focus on technology, health care and bioscience, all areas of growth for Arizona, too. On the tourism side, the city is recognized as Mexico’s home of mariachi music, the state is the country’s capital of the tequila industry, and the city’s colonial architecture and legacy offers a great history lesson.

Like any big city, Guadalajara loves its sports. It’s home to the famous Mexican soccer Club Deportivo Guadalajara, more commonly known as Chivas. The team plays at the new state-of-the-art Estadio Omnilife. But other sports are big here, too, which is why it’s such a treat to have the Diamondbacks’ own Luis Gonzalez on the trip. The Dbacks and our state can’t ask for a better ambassador for baseball, sport and better cross-border relationships than Gonzo.

Luis Gonzalez presents Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce President Francisco Beckman Gonzalez with a D-Backs cap

I am pleased that Arizona Chamber board members, Jaime Molera, Mark Dobbins and Debbie Johnson were able to make the trip. Debbie heads up the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and is a recognized leader in her industry. Debbie also chairs the Chamber’s Trade and Tourism Committee, an area we will continue to increase our focus in the coming year, especially as we seek ways to grow Arizona’s trade opportunities with our southern neighbor by improving staff levels and infrastructure in and around our land border ports. Also representing our state’s tourism interests is Sherry Henry, the executive director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Tourism looms large this trip as the Mexican airline Volaris begins non-stop service tomorrow to Phoenix (Oct. 19).  US Airways already offers non-stop service to the city, which is how I flew into town. The representatives from the travel and tourism industry are particularly excited that there will be increased air traffic to bring our friends from Mexico to visit Arizona, and vice-versa.  Each new flight means real new economic activity for Arizona. 

I was proud to be joined by my counterpart at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Gonzalo de la Melena, in signing a memorandum of understanding with the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce to promote collaboration in the areas of economic development and entrepreneurism. New air service is a great way to kick things off, but six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico, so the more we can do to cultivate links between our two countries, the better it will be for both countries’ economies.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happy one-year anniversary to Sandra Watson at the helm of the Arizona Commerce Authority

Arizona over the last three years has been putting the pieces in place to compete regionally, nationally and globally. With major reforms to our tax system – corporate income, property and sales – Arizona has demonstrated that it’s ready to fight for jobs. And the world is taking notice. We’ve got the #6 best business environment according to CEO Magazine and we’re tops for entrepreneurial activity according to the Kauffman Index.

But we needed a business-minded entity and leader to tell Arizona’s story and to sell our state as a great place to invest and grow. Sandra and the ACA took up that charge and they have been delivering. The agency exceeded its annual goals by attracting over 15,000 jobs with annual wages north of $50,000 and more than $1.2 billion in capital investment. This year alone the ACA has worked with over 100 companies.

A lot of the credit goes to Sandra. She’s proven to be the right leader at the right time, showing that a public-private economic development entity can work in Arizona and drive job creation. Her insight into what makes a state competitive has proven invaluable as third-party analyses have credited the ACA with being responsible for $15.73 billion in total economic impact.

Congratulations, Sandra. I can’t wait to see what year two has in store.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Celebrating Arizona Manufacturers Month in Tucson - #MFGAZ

Yesterday afternoon I joined Gov. Brewer at Universal Avionics in Tucson, where she toured their state-of-the-art facility and continued her promotion of October as Arizona Manufacturers Month.

Universal Avionics is a leader in aviation safety. They’ve been “safely guiding pilots and their passengers worldwide for over 30 years.” If you’ve ever heard of a black box, then you’ve heard of their products. Although, as was pointed out at yesterday’s event, the box is actually red or orange, not black.

 Gov. Brewer poses with participants at Wednesday's Universal Avionic's tour

Arizona was very fortunate when the company chose to relocate its headquarters from California to Tucson. Universal Avionics has a strong reputation among their suppliers and a good relationship with the state’s universities. The company’s legacy of safety -- and technological achievements -- has been noted by multiple groups, including the Arizona Manufacturers Council (AMC). In 2009 Universal Avionics was named Small Manufacturer of the Year by the AMC. They’ve also been three-time Arizona Tech Council award recipients. They’re obviously doing something right.

 Gov. Brewer tours Universal Avionics in Tucson

Gov. Brewer offered high praise to the company, and Universal Avionics returned the compliments, praising her for her continued work on four issues important to Arizona manufacturers: fostering workforce development, establishing a competitive tax structure, promoting entrepreneurship, and strengthening infrastructure. Gov. Brewer has provided a clear vision for the state – a vision where Arizona’s business climate is strong and progress is continuously being made. She has worked hard to improve our state’s education standards, ensuring Arizona manufacturers have a steady pipeline of qualified, skilled workers.

 Gov. Brewer provides a copy of the Arizona Manufacturers Month proclamation

Yesterday’s event was one of many for Arizona Manufacturers Month. You’ll find Gov. Brewer touring the state and highlighting Arizona manufacturers all throughout October. The Arizona Chamber and the AMC will be along for the ride. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates throughout the month, and check back into the Hamer Times blog often, as I’ll be sharing my experiences on the road. You can also share your own stories and view those of other Arizonans with the #MFGAZ hashtag. For a full list of Manufacturers Month events and some great videos highlighting Arizona manufacturers, visit

I’d like to thank Gov. Brewer, Universal Avionics, the Arizona Commerce Authority, and Steve Macias, President and CEO of Pivot Manufacturing and chairman of the AMC, for making yesterday’s event a great success.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My lunch with Janet Yellen

Four years ago, the then head of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and now the president's nominee to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve, invited me to a lunch in Phoenix that she was attending.

The featured speaker that day was Daniel Tarullo, a member of the Fed’s board of governors. There were probably 120 or so Arizona business leaders in the room. I had the good fortune to sit at Vice Chair Yellen’s table with such notable Arizona business giants as Roy Vallee, who at that time was the executive chairman and CEO of Avnet, Inc. (Mr. Vallee has since taken the post of deputy chairman of the San Francisco Fed.)

One thing that stuck with me was why I was invited. Yellen wanted to hear from business leaders on the ground what was really happening in the Arizona and American economies.

My recollection is that she asked me several questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. She struck me as very intelligent, a good listener, courteous and curious. She was also down to earth and the type of person who is easy to engage in conversation. I liked her. 

Obviously this is one brief encounter.  But on a personal level, I am glad the president nominated her and I wish her well through the confirmation process. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Time to end partial shutdown and negotiate

Here is my formula for ending the budget impasse: Republicans should relent on adding strings to the funding bill to keep open all of the federal government operations and should pass a "clean" continuing resolution (“CR”). For his part, the president should negotiate on legislation to raise the debt ceiling.

Let me elaborate.

The flaw in the Republican strategy to use the CR for big policy matters is that the GOP controls only the House, while the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. If holding up passage of a CR were a legitimate way to handle these spending bills, then we should only expect that the Democrats in the Senate and the president would also seek to use those vehicles to drive policy. Imagine debating something like card check or a more obtrusive EPA in the midst of a debate over how to keep the government open.
Since two-thirds of the levers of government are under Democrat control, it is hard to see how the Republicans' negotiating posture will drive conservative outcomes.

Clean CRs in the past have been modest ways to keep spending somewhat limited. Additionally, public opinion makes pretty clear that while both parties and the president are losing altitude, the Republicans are sinking faster. It is hard to see how the GOP would benefit if it puts the House at risk or its chance to control the Senate after next November's elections if voters think of closed national parks and furloughed defense workers when they think of the Republican Party. 

While there was a deal to "preserve" the 60-vote filibuster a month or so ago, in reality it is clear that the current leadership of the Senate only needs 51 votes to pass whatever it wants.

Given the new rules of the road, here is something for Republicans who want to repeal the federal healthcare law, aka “Obamacare,” to shoot for:  maintain control of the House, gain control of the Senate, win the White House and use the new precedent in the Senate to jam through conservative policy changes.

It’s important to note that had Republicans not spent the last two weeks fighting over the CR, the headlines would have been focused on the healthcare law’s broken online insurance exchanges. Instead of talking about closing the Grand Canyon, we could have been talking about the administration’s failure to get a website up and running in three years. Letting this dominate the headlines would have given Republicans real leverage to repeal provisions of the healthcare law as they go into negotiations on the debt ceiling.

And speaking of the debt ceiling, as Ariz. Rep. Matt Salmon put it on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” it is “ironic that the president would negotiate with Vladimir Putin [on Syria], but won’t negotiate with the Republicans in the House of Representatives.” We are almost $17 trillion in debt. When should the White House negotiate if not now?

Raising the debt ceiling is must-pass. Doesn't responsible leadership require both parties to use these votes to make some progress and at least chip away at what U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten calls the "most predictable economic crisis in U.S. history?”

We all know what the broad outline of a deal will look like: entitlement reform and some sort of tax reform that lowers at least the corporate rate with a broadening and loosening of exemptions. In the debt reduction area there already has been movement, albeit clumsily, by a budget sequester that is reducing spending and by ending a portion of the Bush tax cuts, which is raising revenue.

Let's find something that could be accomplished immediately. For example, both parties can find common ground on how to calculate Social Security inflation. The president has said this is something he supports, but only in the context of a bigger deal.

Our country may be heading to a bad place on October 17th if we default on our debt payments. Time to end the shutdown, Sen. Cruz. And it's time to negotiate, Mr. President.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Gov. Brewer and Chamber kick off Arizona Manufacturers Month in Flagstaff #MFGAZ

Gov. Brewer yesterday declared October Arizona Manufacturers Month in Arizona at the Governor’s Economic Development Conference in Flagstaff co-hosted by the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Association of Economic Development Conference. On the national side, the National Association of Manufacturers heralds Oct. 4 as National Manufacturing Day. We are proud to be NAM’s state affiliate through our Arizona Manufacturers Council. Steve Macias, the president of Pivot Manufacturing and also a board member of the Arizona Commerce Authority, chairs the AMC and does an outstanding job.

Flagstaff was a great place to kick off Manufacturing Month. We had the opportunity tour the WL Gore facility there that manufacturers medical technology that has saved and improved he lives of tens of thousands of people all across the world.

Gov. Brewer declares October Arizona Manufacturers Month
The governor's speech yesterday pointed out why our state is now the right place to manufacture. Since she has taken office, through her leadership we have passed legislation to:

·         Shift to a 100 percent sales factor, which creates a more competitive tax environment for our export-oriented businesses.
·         Reduce our corporate income tax.
·         Reduce business personal and real taxes.
·         Restore job training funds.
·         Accelerate depreciation on business machinery and equipment
·         Implement an aggressive capital gains tax reduction
·         Establish a quality new job tax credit
·         Create the ACA, with tools such as a deal-closing fund and a great leader in Sandra Watson.
·         Position local communities to engage in infrastructure development.
·         Enhance the competitiveness of aerospace and defense manufacturers selling to foreign customers.
·         Streamline our overly complicated sales tax system.

Gov. Brewer checks out the latest technology at WL Gore's facility in Flagstaff

The work never ends. Government and the business community going forward will give focus to an improved education system to ensure we’re growing the pipeline for tomorrow’s economy, including fostering an improved and more robust career and technical education (CTE) system, as well working to improve our infrastructure, such as through the development of Interstate 11 between Phoenix and Las Vegas, which will enhance our ability to grow our global logistics offerings and boost our profile on the international stage.

Manufacturing is a major component of Arizona’s economic success.  Manufactured products dominate our exports. Over 80 percent of Arizona's $18.4 billion in exports for 2012 were manufactured goods. The average wages for a manufacturing position in 2012 was $68,964, more than 50 percent higher than the average wage for all positions in Arizona.

The governor and Legislature deserve applause for putting the pieces in place to help Arizona grow these highly desirable manufacturing jobs. We look forward to spreading the good news about Arizona manufacturing throughout October, and through the work of the AMC throughout the entire year.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Unaddressed uncompensated care hurting hospitals

The federal Health Insurance Exchanges opened yesterday, amid much anticipation and less than stellar results. The website encountered glitches throughout the day, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid declined to say if any Arizonans even managed to get signed up. While it remains to be seen if the exchanges will have any impact on coverage or affordability, one policy that we know is putting downward pressure on health care costs is the plan to combat uncompensated care by restoring Arizona’s Medicaid program.

In states that chose not to address the increasing costs of uncompensated care, hospitals are seriously feeling the burn. In Ohio, the Cleveland Clinic has been forced to cut $330 million from its budget, resulting in an unspecified number of employee layoffs. Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee was forced to cut $250 million and 1,000 jobs, citing failure of the state to expand Medicaid as a reason. And just yesterday, Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta announced that it would come up $45 million short this year as a result of Georgia’s failure to expand. And municipal bonds sold by hospitals and health-care systems in sates that aren’t expanding Medicaid have been posting some of the stock market’s biggest losses.

Meanwhile, Arizona hospitals that have issued bonds within the past two months saw the yield penalty drop as much as 37 percent. Communities in rural Arizona maintain their access to emergency care as hospitals are more fiscally stable as a result of the Medicaid restoration.  And, in addition to supporting jobs and maintaining the state’s healthcare infrastructure, Arizona can expect a boost in employment and economic activity in other sectors of the state’s economy as well.

As the federal government fails to pass a budget and successfully open the exchanges on time, we are lucky to have leaders in Arizona who are enacting commonsense reforms to put downward pressure on the cost of healthcare, keep our hospitals financially healthy, and continue to spur economic growth in our state.