The arrival of 2016 is accompanied by new priorities, refreshed goals and an optimistic outlook on all that can and will be accomplished in the upcoming year. As small business owners spend a little time this month changing the 5 in “2015” to a 6 on checks for employees and vendors, I look forward to the vital work we get to do this year on behalf of our Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce members and the business community. I want to share a few of our top priorities for the year.
During its first year, the Chamber’s collaborative, data-driven Phoenix Forward strategic economic development initiative illustrates that local businesses need a more qualified workforce and a talent pipeline. Combine that with the fact that 80% of new jobs are the result of existing companies expansion and growth, and it becomes undeniable that we must take every opportunity to provide those business owners the workforce they seek and need.
We can create that workforce by making decisions today that will ensure the state’s education system is appropriately funded, so it can produce trained employees who are ready to fill these jobs. Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature have provided families throughout the state the opportunity to take a critical, unified step toward ensuring our children receive an education that prepares them for the workforce.
A “yes” vote, May 17, on Proposition 123 is that step.
The Chamber and the business community stand with thousands of parents, teachers, community leaders and legislators who are committed to improving K-12 education and to voting yes on this measure.
At the state Capitol, lawmakers have returned, and our public affairs team and I have the privilege of advocating on behalf of members on several important issues this year. Chief among these is to restore funding for Arizona’s joint technical education districts (JTEDs), which provide tuition-free career and technical training (CTE) to Arizona students up to age 22.
JTEDs’ graduation rates of more than 90% show they are a great return on investment for Arizona, placing students on a path to successful lives by providing them training and skills for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.
We also will advocate for much-needed reform of the public safety pension program to ensure this system continues to be the safety net upon which upon which our police officers, fire fighters and their families can depend.
On the economic development front, we look forward to expanding our collaborative Phoenix Forward mission of strengthening Phoenix’s competitive edge, connecting businesses to vital resources, gathering industry intelligence, influencing public policy and promoting Phoenix as the economic hub of the southwestern United States.
How will we do that?
We will continue to build upon the business support and retention successes we’ve had working in conjunction with our Phoenix Forward partners – the Arizona Commerce Authority, Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix. We will add the strengths of other, similarly focused organizations and municipalities, ultimately creating a defined and coordinated economic development powerhouse that provides resources and data at an unprecedented level to support business attraction, retention and expansion in the Greater Phoenix area.
Let me say I look forward to working with our business and political leaders in 2016 to continue to move Phoenix Forward.