by Emily Gersema
April 14, 2014
When the Arizona Department of Commerce became the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) in 2011, supporters hoped its new “quasi-governmental” structure would free the agency to court major employers. The agency’s board of directors set the goal of bringing 75,000 jobs to the state in five years. The state gives the agency $35 million a year and allots an estimated $25 million of it to subsidizing companies’ expansion and, if possible, their relocation to the state. However, financial records show the ACA awarded at least $1.5 million of its $10 million in grants from the ACF in three years to cities, towns, and nonprofit groups for projects with little statewide economic value. Legislators, economic policy experts and watchdog organizations worry that the ACA lacks the checks and balances that could protect taxpayers from financial and political abuse.