There has been a decent amount of chatter regarding the design of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. I have been asked a number of times if I thought it was a good idea for Arizona, or simply political show. Here is an abbreviated review and opinion of some major items being developed.
The interest in workforce training issues is most welcome. The lack of data and analysis has been a deficiency in Arizona and an area of personal frustration. Workforce quality, availability, and cost are typically near the top of the list when decisions are made to relocate a business or start a new one. Knowing where we stand will help with education policy, workforce training programs, and making better decisions when using economic development tools.
An overdue area of improvement will be the blending of tourism and economic development. Businesses locate where costs are competitive, critical inputs are available and fairly priced, and where people want to live. A better marketing effort will translate into additional job creation. This has already shown promise, and more formally implementing the idea will yield even more benefits. Some have expressed concerns about overlapping the two efforts, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time. The idea is to promote before we incentivize.
Another highlight is the desire to better analyze individual policy issues. Too often has a “solution” been formed in search of a problem. First identifying problems or potential areas of improvement (think regulations, tax policy, economic development programs, education support, etc.) then intelligently developing a solution is the correct process. This is the stated goal. Other goals include better data sharing, more coordination among entities with similar missions, and better strategic analysis of competitor states and regions. A few colleagues expressed concern about the finance related items, but that is for a different review.
The primary risk, from my personal perspective, relates to how all this gets implemented. Moving existing people around does little, but including expert staff (in adequate quantities) could help tremendously. Many are still skeptical about the potential for benefit. This means implementation needs to go smoothly and solid analyses and policy recommendations need to be formed during the first year. In general, I think this is a good idea that could be great if implemented properly. There are no guarantees with government though. Where do you stand? Good policy or smoke and mirrors?