Increasing the availability of venture capital, expanding the reach of broadband Internet access and better telling the story of Arizona’s hightech advantages are three initiatives being undertaken this year by the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology, its co-chairman said.
Roy Vallee, who also is the chief executive of Avnet, an electronics distributor that is the largest publicly held company based in Arizona, said the council will make recommendations to Gov. Janet Napolitano in all three areas this fall to prepare for the next session of the Arizona Legislature beginning January.
Although Arizona has made progress in becoming more competitive in attracting hightech industry and also has embarked on a major initiative to develop bioscience industries, there still is plenty of work to be done, he said in an interview Wednesday.
“We are far from being on the leading edge,” he said. “We have enough to keep us busy for as far as the eye can see.”
For example, the Arizona Legislature has approved tax credits for angel investors who invest money in startup companies, but the state still lacks incentives for venture capitalists to invest in the second and third rounds of startup company development, he said.
Also areas of the state outside the Phoenix and Tucson regions have not shared in the influx of high-tech industries because they lack the broadband infrastructure that is present in the metro areas, he said.
And Arizona continues to suffer an image problem, he said.
Despite the state’s ability to attract such companies as Google and eBay and despite the success of local operations such as Microchip Technology, ON Semiconductor, JDA Software, Avnet and others, Arizona still is not widely viewed by out-of-state executives as a logical place to start a division, he said.
“When we interviewed executives from California, their image of Arizona was it was a great place to play golf but not a place for technology operations,” Vallee said.
“We need to get the facts out that Arizona is a place where businesses can grow and prosper.”
To get the word out, the Arizona Department of Commerce is sponsoring a series of magazine ads with endorsements from local CEOs, but more effort is needed, said Vallee, who was chairman of the council’s marketing and communications subcommittee last year before being elevated to the co - chairmanship of the entire 28-member group in January.
Among the council’s other initiatives have been to create a Web site, aztechbizdev.com, which provides a portal for information that entrepreneurs need to set up operations in Arizona.