Arizona: A Growing Leader in International Trade E42
No longer just a flyover state, Arizona is rapidly gaining more and more attention globally for its business-friendly environment and interest in international trade opportunities.
The September 2023 episode of the Arizona Technology Council’s AZTechCast podcast featured experts including Representative David Cook of the Arizona House of Representatives; Leandro Solorzano, director at the U.S. Commercial Service; and Tina Waddington, executive director of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations. These leaders joined Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the Council, and Karen Nowicki, president and owner of Phoenix Business RadioX, in sharing plans that are already underway to deepen Arizona’s international alliances.
In this hour-long episode, the panel of three experts discussed how Arizona has become “open for business” and an attractive partner for international trade opportunities. They highlighted the key changes that have contributed to this evolution, why international trade is important to Arizona’s continued growth and which organizational stakeholders are most involved in expanding Arizona’s global presence. Finally, they touched on Arizona’s statewide strategy for creating foreign trade offices in various cities and countries around the world and bringing foreign dignitaries to Arizona to create new international alliances.
The Arizona State Legislature is a bicameral body with 30 members in the Senate and 60 members in the House of Representatives. One Senator and two House members serve each district. They are responsible for making laws in the state of Arizona. Each legislature lasts two years and consists of a first regular session and a second regular session. Regular sessions begin the second Monday in January and generally last 100 days.
Representative David Cook has been a member of the Arizona State Legislature since 2017. Originally from Ponca City, Oklahoma, he moved to Arizona in 1985 and graduated from Miami High School. David has attended several community colleges here in Arizona but is most proud to be a graduate of Arizona State Universities’ Certified Public Manager Program.
In 2000, he and his wife started their own ranching company called DC Cattle Company, located in his hometown of Globe, AZ. Prior to starting his own ranching company, David has also served as a Sergeant in the Department of Corrections. David has served on many different associations as a board member and past president and is still involved in them to this day.
He is a strong advocate for the availability of dual enrollment programs for all rural students and on many other issues affecting rural AZ.
The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Their global network of experienced trade professionals, located throughout the United States and in U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, connect American exporters with foreign business opportunities.
Leandro Solorzano is the Director of the U.S. Commercial Service in Arizona where he oversees the agency’s programs. He leads a team of International Trade Specialists who work with Arizona companies to increase their exports helping them develop and implement their export strategy. He works with local, state, and federal agencies to provide companies with a full suite of programs designed to help them enter foreign markets.
Mr. Solorzano began his career with the U.S. Commercial Service in Philadelphia, PA, and later transferred to Fort Lauderdale, FL. He was awarded the Department of Commerce’s Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medal Awards for his work in promoting U.S. exports around the world.
He has been in the international trade field for over 15 years and holds a Master’s of International Administration degree from the University of Miami and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Florida International University.
Follow The International Trade Administration on LinkedIn.
The Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations (PCFR) is dedicated to growing Arizona’s global prominence by providing forums that explore critical foreign policy issues and build enduring international connections.
They offer monthly programs year-round and bring renowned speakers to share candid insights. This provides PCFR members with intriguing and intellectually challenging, interactive experiences as they participate in the Q & A following the speakers’ remarks.
For more than 40 years PCFR has welcomed a variety of distinguished guests; US and foreign ambassadors, cabinet ministers, policy-makers, economists, analysts, journalists, authors, renowned educators and heads of state.
Tina Waddington is the Executive Director of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations (PCFR). She has been a PCFR member since 2016. Prior to joining PCFR in a leadership capacity, Tina was the Public Affairs committee co-chair and served on the Board of Directors. Tina started her career as a political intern at the U.S. Embassy in Rome before going into the private sector, where she helped Arizona companies expand across the nation and around the globe.
Tina volunteers with multiple organizations with the goal of increasing Arizona’s prominence internationally, including Phoenix Sister Cities Business Relations Committee, USGLC Arizona Advisory Committee and the Diplomatic Corps of Arizona. Through her community engagement, Tina works to advocate for Arizona and increase economic development opportunities through international trade and diplomacy. In 2022, Tina was selected by City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego for the Phoenix Sister Cities Global Citizen Award.
Tina received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Italian Studies from the University of Arizona and her master’s degree in Social Justice and Human Rights with a focus on Nonprofit Management from Arizona State University. She was born in Kosovo and immigrated to the United States with her family as war refugees in 1999. Tina is committed to giving back to her country of birth and recently joined Project C.U.R.E. on a volunteer mission to provide medical supplies to hospitals and medical centers in Kosovo.
About Your Hosts
Steve Zylstra serves as president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, a role he assumed in 2007. He is responsible for strategy, operations, finance and policy development. Zylstra is a vocal spokesman for the value technology can provide in raising social and economic standards in Arizona.
Zylstra serves on numerous councils, committees and boards, was named “Leader of the Year, Technology,” by the Arizona Capitol Times, and “Most Admired Leader” by the Phoenix Business Journal. In addition, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science in technology from the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Ariz.
Zylstra earned a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering technology from Western Michigan University.
Karen Nowicki is a successful author, speaker and the creator of Deep Impact Leadership™ and SoulMarks Coaching™. She is a two-time recipient of the prestigious national Choice Award® for her book and personal development retreat. Karen was crowned the first-ever “Mompreneur of the Year” Award in 2010 for the southwestern states. She was recognized for her leadership, business acumen, and work-life balance.
Karen has been an expert guest on regional TV and radio shows, including Fox Phoenix Morning Show, Sonoran Living, Good Morning Arizona, The Chat Room, and Mid-Day Arizona. She has been a regular contributor to many print and online magazines – publishing articles and blogs for business and education.
In addition to working with private coaching clients, Karen is also the Owner & President of Phoenix Business RadioX. The Business RadioX Network amplifies the voice of business – serving the Fortune 500,000, not just the Fortune 500. Phoenix Business RadioX helps local businesses and professional associations get the word out about the important work they’re doing to serve their market, profession, and community.
Of all the experiences Karen has had the privilege of participating in over her vast career, she shares that Phoenix Business RadioX is a pinnacle adventure!
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Bianca Buliga is a trilingual first-generation American of Romanian ethnicity. A marketing professional with experience in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, Bianca currently works as Director, Marketing & Communications for the Arizona Technology Council.
Previously, Bianca worked as Marketing Communications Lead at Proctorio, a learning integrity platform that offers remote proctoring software ensuring exam integrity for learners around the world.
Bianca also worked as Senior Marketing Manager at SEED SPOT, a social impact incubator that educates, accelerates, and invests in impact-driven entrepreneurs creating market-based solutions to social problems. In January of 2020, Bianca was selected as an awardee of the Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Program and traveled to the African island of Mauritius to run entrepreneurship programming for 15 impact-driven ecopreneurs on behalf of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Bianca has also completed comprehensive consulting projects for IBM, ESAN Business School, and the Peruvian government, and interned at the Arizona House of Representatives and U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania.
Bianca earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Northern Arizona University in 2014 and her Master’s degree in Global Affairs and Management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2017. She is an avid reader, yogi, and world traveler always planning her next trip.
Connect with Bianca on LinkedIn.
About Our Sponsor
The Arizona Technology Council, Arizona’s only statewide organization serving the technology sector, fosters a climate of innovation to enhance technology in Arizona.
A trusted resource in strengthening Arizona’s technology industry, the Council proactively eliminates impediments that companies face, accelerates the entrepreneurial mindset in the state’s expanding innovation ecosystem, and works to create a destination for companies to be, thrive and stay.