- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday announced the creation of a new office designed to help streamline economic development and marketing of Arizona across the nation and internationally.

The new organization is part of a reorganization intended to more effectively use the more than $50 million a year Arizona currently spends to boost tourism and draw businesses.

The goal is to coordinate the state’s sales and marketing efforts with workforce and business development while streamlining regulations.

The new Governor’s Economic Opportunity Office will bring about 50 staffers from several agencies together to provide detailed analysis on taxes, regulations and available workforce to help the Arizona Commerce Authority and state Tourism Department better market the state.

A new statewide financing authority to coordinate lower-cost private lending also is part of the plan that will require legislative approval.

The new one-stop financing operation for small and big businesses relocating or being created in Arizona will absorb several existing state financing operations and mirror efforts by some cities and counties.

“This is not any debt that is getting to the state’s balance sheet,” said Lorenzo Romero, Ducey’s budget director. “This is a one-stop shop opportunity for businesses coming in looking for an opportunity to get financing.”

The Commerce Authority and Tourism Department are expected to receive about $50 million in funding this year. Two other agencies that work on economic development issues are the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Arizona Zaneros, a group created by Ducey last year. All four will eventually be housed in the same location and operate separately.

The economic opportunity office will include staff currently assigned to the state Employment and Population Statistics operation, which has been part of several agencies in the past decade. The labor force analysts will perform required federal employment and unemployment tracking and supply that information to the new office so it can be used to help market the state.

Businesses that are considering locating in Arizona, for example, could be provided detailed information on available workers.

Staffers in the office also will track city, county and state regulations, look for ways to streamlined the rules, and help the marketing arms of government inform prospective employers of the costs of operating in Arizona.

The new office will be run by Commerce Authority CEO Sandra Watson, Ducey Chief of Staff Kirk Adams said.

The proposed legislation also provides more accountability and transparency for the commerce authority, which awards state cash to companies that choose to locate in Arizona.

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