Since the boom of high-speed data transfer, the role of optics and photonics has evolved from pure science to application-oriented technologies. In 2009, the U.S. represented 56 percent of the global photonics product market, with eight major geographic clusters, including Tucson, AZ. The average wage in the industry is $75,000, almost 50 percent higher than the U.S. median household income and more than double the state’s median wage.

In Arizona, employment in optics-related organizations reached 5,500 direct jobs in 2010 with 361 companies. Optics wages in Arizona averaged $50,000 in 2010. The Arizona Optics Industry Association, a widely recognized industry organization, has successfully attracted optics-related companies including manufacturing, prototype development, consulting services, software development and hardware manufacturing firms.

The ACA will position the state as a leading player in the optics/photonics industry by encouraging optics cluster services, supporting current businesses, emphasizing incentives to foster new business creation, facilitating research funding, and encouraging additional graduates prepared for the industry.