PHOENIX (April 27, 2020)—In a letter to Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Sandra Watson, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry has outlined a set of broad recommendations for Arizona leaders to consider as the state approaches April 30, the original end-date of Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order.
Watson is coordinating the governor’s efforts to position Arizona for an economic recovery as it continues to limit the spread of Covid-19.
“We share Governor Ducey’s belief that Arizona can return stronger,” Arizona Chamber President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “There are creative, nimble leaders within Arizona’s business community who are ready to help in the broader reopening of the Arizona economy by implementing responsible protocols that place the public’s health as the top priority, while allowing more sectors of the economy to return to full strength.”
Hamer says the governor’s approach has been the correct one throughout this period since the declaration of a pandemic.
“Gov. Ducey’s essential services and activities order has served as a national model, ensuring that Arizona limits the spread of Covid-19, avoids overburdening our health care system, but keeps the majority of the state’s economy operational. We have no doubt that under his leadership we will begin to return to some semblance of normalcy in a safe, responsible way, and that Arizona will exit this period just as we entered it: with one of the nation’s strongest economies.”
The Chamber’s letter to Watson follows:
April 24, 2020
President & CEO
Arizona Commerce Authority
100 North 7th Avenue, Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85007
On behalf of the state’s job creators, I want to thank you and your team for your tireless efforts to keep Arizonans safe, while continuing to focus on our state’s economic health. The actions taken by Governor Ducey, with your advisement, have responsibly prioritized public health, while continuing economic activity safely.
The proactive approach taken through Executive Order 2020-12 outlining essential services was a national best practice, providing businesses time to plan and ensuring Arizona had no interruption in operations critical to both our economic health and that are essential to the health, safety and welfare of our residents during this pandemic.
As you have been tasked by Governor Ducey with spearheading the effort to kickstart Arizona’s economic recovery, we thank you for your continued partnership and constant communication with the business community in seeking its input. We know you and your team have been in contact directly with businesses across the state, including our members, so in order to limit redundancy, I wanted to offer the following themes and policy considerations for moving our state forward, which have been developed from within our membership and as a result of regular consultations with industry trade groups representing the broader Arizona economy:
- Public health is essential to economic success. We applaud Governor Ducey and the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) for relying on public health data to drive decision making. We agree that we must protect public health while safeguarding Arizona’s economy. To move Arizona forward we must continue to take a data-driven approach that mitigates the risk of the virus’ resurgence and protects our vulnerable populations while allowing economic activity to continue and grow safely.
- Encourage business innovation and allow businesses to phase in and return to work safely through guidance, not inflexible mandates. Through this pandemic we have continued to see businesses adapt to the changing needs of their customers based on health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS).
Essential businesses continuing to operate during the pandemic have implemented safety protocols to protect their employees and their customers. As we move forward, allowing non-essential businesses to phase back in, there cannot be a one size fits all approach. Every Arizona industry and business is diverse and have its own unique needs; we should encourage innovation to protect employees and customers. We must allow businesses to implement policies that follow best practices for their industry, and that comply with federal, state, and local regulations, while adhering to health guidance.
- Address legal liability issues that may burden economic activity. We continue to hear that exposure to legal liability is one of the largest areas of concern for businesses across the state. Governor Ducey took the right approach through Executive Order 2020-27 in providing “Good Samaritan” protections to Arizona’s health care workers and medical facilities on the front lines of combating COVID19. Arizona needs to continue to address a range of liability issues that will create obstacles for businesses and further hurt our economic recovery. Our national partners at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Tort Reform Association have outlined the major liability considerations that should be address. I have enclosed those resources for your consideration.
- Retool workforce to meet emerging workforce needs. Arizona has seen an unprecedented number of unemployment claims, reaching almost 350,000 applicants over the past five weeks. At the same time, there has been an emergence of new workforce needs and jobs across the state. The state and the business community should continue to partner to identify new areas of workforce needs and workers with the skills to fill those gaps.
- Support and grow Arizona’s manufacturing industry. During this pandemic we have seen manufacturers step up to the challenge, changing their production lines to make face shields, masks, and other critical supplies to help combat COVID19. Prior to the pandemic, Arizona was a hub for manufacturing and the state should continue to support the growth in the manufacturing industry to bring more supply chains back to North America. Given the nearing implementation of USMCA and Arizona’s advantageous geographic proximity to Mexico, perhaps no state is better positioned for economic growth post-pandemic than ours.
- Phase in close-contact services safely through protective measures. Small businesses including retailers, restaurants, and other personal health and hygiene services have been devasted during this pandemic. These businesses and services often require direct and frequent contact between an employee and a customer. However, these industries are all exploring options to continue to serve their customers in new ways, limiting interactions and customer traffic, increasing sanitation, and utilizing personal protective equipment to protect employees and customers. We must provide flexibility to these operators to phase in operations with safety protocols in place.
- Economic recovery will happen in phases and will continue to need evaluation. While the current focus is on “reopening,” we must also focus on long term “recovery.” The Governor’s recent action to allow elective surgeries is an important first step on the road to reopening the economy. Recovery will also include evaluating opportunities to keep economic activity going through projects to support critical state infrastructure needs. Long term economic recovery will be a partnership through both state and federal programs.
Again, we thank you and your team for all your support of Arizona businesses. The ACA has been doing incredible work providing information to the public and Arizona businesses across the state through regular and consistent educational outreach. We appreciate your partnership through the CARES Act Readiness Program with the Arizona Chamber and Arizona Small Business Association to ensure small businesses have the resources they need to take advantage of federal relief.
Arizona’s economic recovery will take the right balance of business innovation, government guidance, and new policy measures, but under the leadership of Governor Ducey and the ACA I am confident that Arizona will come back stronger. The Arizona Chamber stands ready to help in any capacity you may need.
President and CEO
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