U.S. Department of Commerce, Aspen Institute Announce Arizona Commerce Authority’s Participation in the National "Communities that Work" Partnership


PHOENIX, AZ (July 16, 2015)  Seven regional site teams across the United States have been selected to participate in the Communities that Work Partnership, a new joint project of the Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) of the Aspen Institute and the Economic Development Administration of the US Department of Commerce. The Communities that Work Partnership (CTW Partnership) is an effort to strengthen regional economies by equipping American workers with the skills needed for 21st century jobs and accelerating industry-led workforce development and training efforts.


The Arizona Commerce Authority was selected through a nationally competitive review process as one of the seven participating organizations. The regional site team, led by Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, will include the Arizona Technology Council and Cox Communications, represented by Steve Zylstra and Greg Ensell respectively. The selected regional team will lead job-driven talent development strategies in Arizona.


“We are honored to be selected as the lead agency on the Phoenix regional site team for the ‘Communities that Work Partnership’,” Watson said. “Arizona is nationally recognized for our innovative approach to workforce through sector partnership programs, and we look forward to leading this initiative and continuing to grow Arizona’s already impressive talent pool.”


The seven regional site teams, or regional partnerships, will begin a 15-month intensive accelerated learning exchange designed around each region’s pursuit of job-driven talent development strategies to promote economic growth. AspenWSI and FutureWorks Consulting, will facilitate the in-person and virtual learning exchanges and provide customized technical assistance by engaging national experts in economic, workforce, and talent development.


“Despite a positive growth outlook for IT jobs in Arizona, there is growing concern among local employers that the region lacks qualified workers to support future growth,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO, Arizona Technology Council. “The Arizona Technology Council is proud to be selected for the opportunity to help formulate actionable strategies aimed at closing the gap between the skills our workforce has and the skills our employers need to keep Arizona competitive.”


The CTW Partnership will culminate in a number of publications outlining systems-change progress and lessons learned among the seven regional site teams, which will be disseminated nationally in the fall of 2016. They will describe how networks of local leaders can work in new ways across traditional silos to build more effective regional workforce initiatives, and begin to influence and guide similar strategies in other communities across America.


“Cox Communications is dedicated to supporting the communities it serves, and we are very excited to participate in the AspenWSI ‘Communities that Work Partnership’,” said Greg Ensell, Manager of Government and Public Affairs for Cox Communications. “We look forward to collaborating with the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Technology Council on this project to continue growing and strengthening Arizona’s workforce.”

The CTW Partnership was launched in April 2015 at an event at the Aspen Institute that featured Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson in a dialogue over the need to learn from successful regional job-driven workforce development efforts to inform practices in other communities around the United States.


The other six regional site teams selected to participate in the Communities that Work Partnership, by Lead Agency, are:

  • Bay Area Video Coalition, City and County of San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, CBS Corporation, Work2Future/Silicon Valley/San Jose Workforce Investment Board (San Francisco area)
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Erie County Executive Office, National Grid (Buffalo-Niagara Falls area)
  • Greater Houston Partnership, San Jacinto College, United Way of Greater Houston, Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions (Greater Houston area)
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Anacostia River Initiative/Federal City Council Anacostia Waterfront Trust (Greater Washington, DC, area)
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Employment Law Project, Hand in Hand (New York City)
  • Northwest Georgia Regional Workforce Partnership, J+J Flooring Group, Technical College System of Georgia, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce (Northwest Georgia)

Media Contacts
Susan Marie, Arizona Commerce Authority, (602) 845-1231, [email protected]

Linda Capcara, Arizona Technology Council, (480) 229-1090, [email protected]

Greg Ensell, Cox Communications, (623) 328-3490, [email protected]


About the Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is the state’s leading economic development organization with a streamlined mission to grow and strengthen Arizona’s economy. The ACA uses a three-pronged approach to advance the overall economy: attract, expand, create – attract out-of-state companies to establish operations in Arizona; work with existing companies to expand their business in Arizona and beyond; and help entrepreneurs create new Arizona businesses in targeted industries. For more information, please visit azcommerce.com and follow the ACA on Twitter at @azcommerce.


About the Arizona Technology Council
The Arizona Technology Council is Arizona’s premier trade association for science and technology companies. Recognized as having a diverse professional business community, Council members work towards furthering the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action. The Arizona Technology Council offers numerous events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, managers, employees and visionaries to make an impact on the technology industry. These interactions contribute to the Council’s culture of growing member businesses and transforming technology in Arizona. To become a member or to learn more about the Arizona Technology Council, please visit http://www.aztechcouncil.org.


About Cox Communications
Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet, telephone and home security and automation services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable TV company, Cox serves approximately 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and digital media advertising. Cox is known for its pioneering efforts in cable telephone and commercial services, industry-leading customer care and its outstanding workplaces. For eight years, Cox has been recognized as the top operator for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications; Cox has ranked among DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity 10 times, including the last nine years. More information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com and www.coxmedia.com.


About The US Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the US Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for US workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.


About the Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI)
AspenWSI is one of three ongoing initiatives in the Economic Opportunities Program (EOP) at the Aspen Institute, along with Skills for America's Future and FIELD. AspenWSI works to identify, evaluate, and promote promising and successful practices and policies that improve access to quality training and employment for low-income adults.


About The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.