In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, the author examines how a person’s drive, motivation, and success can be influenced by extraneous factors such as birth month. (For example, hockey players in Canada born in January have a head start developing their skills over kids born later in the year based on how the leagues are structured on birth dates; the poor December kids have a measurably lower chance of success.)
After the recent economic downturn it became quite apparent that we could not depend on growth itself as our engine for growth since perpetual motion machines defy the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. We certainly do not want to be a state of lawbreakers, so effort has been placed on how else we should grow our economy.
In Arizona right now we are seeing an extraordinary amount of cooperation and focus on building the manufacturing industry and there are several events taking place on a national and global scale that may influence the level of success we experience, much like the subjects in Outliers. Given the myriad of factors in play, it will be important to keep them all in mind as we move forward and try to wrap them into one shiny, sun-drenched package.
The Arizona Commerce Authority and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council are at the forefront of business attraction and development and are to be commended for their work in attracting and, equally if not more importantly, retaining and helping to grow the existing industry. The Arizona Manufacturers Council commends and fully supports their efforts.
On the global scale we are seeing the nearshoring trend positively affect northern Mexico, specifically the state of Sonora, and there will be significant opportunities as companies expand from Europe to establish a North American manufacturing presence. Many of these companies are from the European aerospace industry, so we should be able to align their needs with the skills developed from the rich history of aerospace and defense manufacturing we have in Arizona. Gov. Brewer and Gov. Padrés Elías of Sonora have been working hand in hand with groups like the Arizona Mexico Commission to encourage this growth.
As the Arizona-Sonora region becomes more of a North American manufacturing hub, shipping of freight becomes an issue and that spins nicely into the push to develop the I-11 corridor and build on the air cargo capabilities of the region. If these opportunities break right, Arizona has the potential to become a logistical center in the southwest as Los Angeles becomes more congested in its air and sea ports.
Of course none of this would succeed without an educated workforce on all levels and again we have a confluence of interested parties in industry, government and education working together to develop skill sets and pathways that will provide opportunities for the 21st century worker. (And of course as a Sun Devil, what more could you ask for than Michael Crow leading the charge in turning ASU into one of the top public universities in the nation as a selling point to industry and their employment needs?)
There is a lot going on, but the groundwork being laid right now has the potential to greatly affect the landscape and economy we see in Arizona over the next decade, and beyond, and make our state an outlier on the upside.
Steve Macias is the president of Pivot Manufacturing and the chairman of the Arizona Manufacturers Council
The Arizona Manufacturers Council within the Arizona Chamber is the state affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). For more on manufacturing and NAM, visit www.nam.org.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.