By Julio Espinoza, Staff Writer
On February 22nd Global Chamber Phoenix, in collaboration with the City of Phoenix and the City of Surprise, held a vibrant conversation and report card on how global business is progressing in the Phoenix metro. The event took place at DIRTT, a Canadian sustainability-driven manufacturer of highly customized interiors with operations in Phoenix. The event also had the support of the Arizona Consular Corps and Tommy Bahama, a lifestyle retailer with an important multinational supply chain and significant revenue stream in Arizona.
The Global Chamber’s International State of the Metro event has become a tradition for decision-makers in the private and public sector in Arizona, where Global Chamber has its headquarters, plus two chapters hosting international annual business fairs and discussions: Phoenix and Tucson. To further the conversations taking place at the State of the Metro, the Global Chamber has also created a series of all-in-one annual business fairs for companies in Arizona to connect them to the resources to grow and raise the international stature of our state economy. The fairs are scheduled for April 27th in Tucson and September 19th in Phoenix.
During the International State of the Metro, Doug Bruhnke, CEO/Founder of Global Chamber, presented the Arizona Consular Corps (including Honduras, Japan, Mexico, France, Spain and the U.K) and Mexican Federal Senator Juan Carlos Romero-Hicks, in addition to local officials. Alfredo J. Molina, CEO of Molina Fine Jewelers and recently appointed Chairman of the Arizona Consular Corps, also offered recommendations on how to be successful in international business.
“Global Chamber is NOT political, but we sometimes host politicians for discussions on trade and business, for the benefit of our members and the business community.” -Doug Brunhke
In a highly competitive, red ocean economy, cities want to stay strong communities with competitive economies because they are battling against other cities for local and foreign investments that diversify their economic sectors. For example, we can see transitions into advanced industrial sectors in the Phoenix Metro area where cities such as Mesa have been able to position themselves as the hub of operations for big companies such as Apple and have achieved a significant expansion of household income over the last decade. This brings up the question of the kind of metropolitan area we want in the future: a small city economy with poor infrastructure and lack of human resources, or a vibrant, diversified economy where people can study, work, prosper and stay.
If free market measures along with the economic stimulus of better wages make sense for our city economy to grow and stay competitive, then what is holding us back from taking off? The dilemma for the Arizona private sector is to decide between keeping low operation costs (with a high human resources turnover and brain drain) or support a minimum wage increase that eventually translates into a vibrant and diversified city-economy that can host high-wage job industries: Health, Education, Aerospace/Aerial, Technology and Tourism (HEAT). The dilemma for the general public is how to choose the kind of information and leadership to trust.
According to a scorecard created by Hank Marshall, Economic Development Executive of the City of Phoenix and honorary consul of the U.K., Arizona as a whole has been underperforming in the global arena, with a symbolic improvement over the last 2 years but still behind California and Texas. The Mayors and Councils of the major cities of the Phoenix metropolitan area have been very proactive trying to diversify and boost the economy of their jurisdictions, understanding that the main industries need foreign direct investment, foreign industrial clusters and foreign supply chains. We all need to support the globalization efforts regardless of our political ideology and short-term business interests if we want Phoenix metro to prosper and be sustainable for generations to come. Phoenix, Arizona itself is part of the supply chain of NAFTA, benefiting from free trade and capital flows. In this regard, Doug Bruhnke highlighted that “the megaregion of Mexico and the US is the most formidable of any two bordering countries in the world. Cooperation has led to highly integrated world class supply chains that are some of the best in the world.”
As we need more voices to join the debate and more companies to prosper, our duty as economic and political agents of one of the most resilient states in the Southwest is to make sure that we foster an inclusive dialogue based on facts, not political ideologies that damage our best business interests, and a strong commitment to international free trade. If you want to be part of the debate, reach out to your local officials and learn more about the Global Chamber’s efforts to help local businesses grow globally. Together, we can make Arizona an oasis of HEAT in the desert.