Arizona's greatness comes from within its borders.


Arizona's potential for future prosperity is enormous if our leaders are bold, focused, courageous and collaborative. Together, let's accentuate our strengths to usher in a new era of innovative thinking and unbridled prosperity.

Arizona is a state with stunning landscapes, fantastic weather and unique resources - a state teeming with robust entrepreneurial energy and exciting possibilities. It is home to visionaries like retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former Sen. Carl Hayden (father of the Central Arizona Project), architect Frank Lloyd Wright, labor union leader César Chávez and astronomer Percival Lowell.

Whether in business, education, research or government, compelling leaders like Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and President and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce Michael Varney forge ahead with pioneering spirits and progressive agendas that foster positive changes for our state and communities.

Exciting things are happening in Arizona that make us proud:

• Solar energy. The Arizona Corporation Commission set a renewable portfolio standard to require the state to increase its renewable energy by 2025. The implications are huge for Arizona's economy, workforce and national stature.

• Interstate 11. The development of I-11 will create a trade corridor from Mexico to Canada that enhances our state's economic relevancy and competitiveness.

• Entrepreneurship. The University of Arizona's Eller College of Management is home to the internationally ranked McGuire Entrepreneurship Program that recognizes the valuable contributions of entrepreneurs to business growth and innovation.

• Rim Country Educational Alliance. This group is working to bring a university to Payson, increasing the state's education opportunities.

• Imagine Greater Tucson and Visit Tucson. Southern Arizona leaders and residents are working together to support these initiatives. Their community's willingness to take action that shapes a better future is an example for all of us.

It is incredibly difficult to compete with a state that is constantly creating and innovating. This is the key to our maximum success. Though it is fine to tap into ideas and best practices from other states, our greatness comes from within our own borders. We need to collectively blaze a trail so other states are looking to emulate us and saying, "We need to be like Arizona, Phoenix, Tucson, etc."

We have our challenges, however. We must take charge of our identity and our message. Let's spread the word: Arizona is the premier "Digital Desert" and an international "Commerce Corridor." It's the place to live, learn and thrive in a friendly business environment.

Can't you imagine other states in awe of our progressive strategies and scrambling to copy our template for success? We have the ability to make that a reality with unified, collaborative efforts and functional bipartisan politics. Let's unleash our collective creativity and talents, and refocus the spotlight on foresight and innovation to propel our economic vitality, global competiveness and quality of life excellence.

Let's remember to celebrate what is right with Arizona, our communities and each other.

Donna Davis is the president and CEO of DIR Group, Inc., a business-consulting and advisory firm, and is former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association.