Arizona has a Powerful Economic Partner to the North | Tech Parks Arizona

Arizona has a Powerful Economic Partner to the North

My View: Arizona has a powerful partner to the north

by Glenn Williamson, CEO & Founder, Canada Arizona Business Council

Published in Phoenix Business Journal - May 17, 2019

Did you know that over one million Canadian tourists visit Arizona each year and spend over one billion  dollars a year? Canadians are flocking to Arizona not only to enjoy the warm weather, but the business climate as well.  Arizona’s annual bilateral trade with Canada for 2017 totals over $3.5 billion. There are approximately 400 Canadian businesses operating in Arizona, making Canada the largest contributor of foreign direct investment employment in the state.  Nearly 150,000 jobs in Arizona, or 1 in 20, result directly from trade and investment in Canada.  Canada is the largest foreign direct investment country into Arizona.

Arizona serves as a great entry point for Canadian business expanding into the US with its access to major markets, ease of business regulations, top-tier research universities, beautiful weather, and friendly business environment.

Canada has a lot to offer its Arizona business partner as well.  Government and private investment pools (check), university research labs (check), booming business environment (check, check). Business giants like Shopify and OpenText as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are flourishing and seek to expand their business with their target market set on the U.S.  For instance, Slack, the fastest-growing business application in history, arose from a Canada-US partnership.

Canadians have a long-standing bond with Arizona and as part of the Canadian Arizona Business Council, I have seen this grow over the years to 200 nonstop flights a week between Canada and Arizona bringing tourists then trade and ultimately Foreign Direct Investment.

With 35 years of international business experience mainly between Arizona – Canada.  I can tell you that the potential prosperity of this partnership is yet to be realized.  That is until now.

The University of Arizona (UA) knew the potential of mining Canada the Great White North.  The UA recently hired an international executive leader from Canada to advance the UA Tech Parks - Carol Stewart, a long-standing authority on research parks, whose expertise spans decades and nations.  The significance of this recruitment is equal to recruiting a CEO out of Silicon Valley to run a tech company.

University research parks are microcosms of a city, state or mega-region.  Their ability to flourish is directly linked to their ability to stimulate economic development through academia-industry partnerships, business recruitment, job creation, and quality of life improvement for the region.

Industry united with university research is changing the world.  This is the era of the fourth industrial revolution.    

Waterloo, the region that Ms. Stewart hails from, has one of the most successful startup scenes and booming tech business community.  International public-private research partnerships flourish and inventions hit the streets every day.  Canada has successfully grown startup businesses and birthed some of the top companies such as HootSuite.

I see this business savvy woman recruiting fast-growth companies into the region.  Building and foster relationships that bring about technology breakthrough and business creation.  University-related research parks serve as the ideal opportunity to establish and maintain momentum of the Arizona-Canada relationship. 

By tapping into global best practices and connecting with international businesses.  Arizona can win big!  I see a technology transformation on the horizon with next-generation technology companies locating here.

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