When you get an invite for a “CEO Retreat” the word boondoggle tends to come to mind. But this is Arizona and we like to have fun here, but we are also a very practical and hard working people, so even a retreat in Sedona is a value added experience. Hosted by the great staff of the Arizona Technology Council, the 2014 CEO Retreat was a useful and enjoyable event.
This year the full event was held at L’Auberge de Sedona, truly one of the nicest spots in Sedona, what may be one of the coolest places in the state. The reception Monday night was a great chance to catch up with everyone, meet some new people, and touch base on what happened in the previous year. It was also the first time I noticed what would become a common theme – there is a growing momentum in the Arizona technology community. During the seminar the following day, that same theme grew louder and stronger.
For a long time the technology business community in Arizona has been fragmented and focused outside of the state. Housing and real estate are huge business here and it is sometime forgotten there is a diverse and significant number of high technology businesses here.
After talking with other business owners or C-level people, it became obvious that business large and small are seeing good steady growth. Larger companies are doing more and more of their work here in state, and moving more of their operations to the state. I learned how one of Arizona’s most successfully tech companies has quietly added significant services offerings to their long term business model that is allowing them to grow beyond their traditional business. I also chatted with several small software companies that are making that transition from start-up to growth company, adding jobs and talent. And the impact of data centers and providing services and infrastructure for “the cloud” was obvious and significant on the overall community. One of our favorite segments, Aerospace was a bit underrepresented. So I used every opportunity to point out how well Orbital Sciences is doing with its rocket programs, Honeywell is creating an Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Center of Excellence here in the valley, and a handful of smaller companies are making significant strides in UAV technology. I didn’t really have time to talk about all the great Cleantech companies we know about.
This growing momentum was best expressed when a Silicon Valley insider and a guest from San Diego both commented on how something important and significant is going on with the Arizona technology community.
In between such discussions we had a great sessions learning about funding opportunities and strategies for capital, suggestions for finding great employees, resources for start-ups, tips for digital marketing, and much more. We finished with a great workshop on creating meaningful content to establish your company as domain experts.
There was golf the first day, but I decided to not drag the PADT name down in shame. Instead I enjoyed sitting on the hotel patio and watch the rain come down. It has been a hot summer here in Phoenix and enjoying nature air conditioner was much better than loosing little white balls in the cactus.
All-in-all a great event, at a great location, with great people.