The “Five C’s”—copper, cotton, cattle, citrus, and climate—fueled Arizona’s early economy, signifying the state’s early reliance on agriculture and mining as its main economic engine. The Valley of the Sun became an important farming center, thanks to the canals originally built by the Hohokam and resurrected by Jack Swilling—so much so that, at one time, the state was the country’s largest producer of cotton. Even the small farming community of Gilbert—now a Phoenix  suburb of 100,000 people—produced enough alfalfa in its fields during World War I to earn the title “Hay Capital of the World.” Today, Arizona can still call itself the “Copper State,” with its mammoth open-pit and underground mines producing about two-thirds of nation’s total yield of the peachy-gold metal.
Thanks to more than 325 days of sunshine a year, it’s possible to grow oranges and grapefruit, but the endless sunny days also mean dining alfresco, lying by the pool, and playing golf year-round—in short, tourism, which accounts for $18.5 billion annually. The sun may even be the basis of a new sustainable solar economy as the country searches for energy independence—a particularly critical need for this region, which is dependent on air-conditioning during the triple-digit summer months. High-tech innovation in the desert isn’t new, though. After World War II, early technology manufacturing companies set up shop in Phoenix , including Motorola, which opened a research and development laboratory in 1948. Other computer-chip manufacturers and engineering firms followed, and within the past decade, Arizona political and business leaders have enticed medical research and biotechnology firms, like T-Gen, to take the state’s economy—and its health care—to new heights.