From The Publisher –
In this issue Jay Gonzales files an exceptional report on Rio Nuevo – which is a State of Arizona Tax Increment Financing District and a vehicle for investing state sales taxes in downtown projects. Gonzales states, “To grasp the magnitude of the resurgence of downtown Tucson in the last few years, all you need to know is that until 2017, a new hotel had not opened there since 1973 – and that one was shuttered six years ago. Today, there is a gleaming new and extremely busy hotel in the center of downtown – the AC Hotel Tucson Downtown – and five more hotels are on the drawing board.”
The impressive building on our cover is the concept illustration for the Moxy and Element hotels, both Marriott-branded hotels, a project that also will include upgrades to the historic Rialto Theatre at East Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Scott Stiteler and Rudy Dabdoub, who partnered on the nearby AC Hotel, also a Marriott, are developing the Moxy/Element site, which will have a total of 249 rooms. Rio Nuevo is supporting financing of the project with a sales tax rebate.
In April, after legislative approval in the state House and Senate, Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a 10-year extension for the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Taxing District, allowing it to continue operating until 2035. Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker provided exemplary leadership to make Rio Nuevo a dynamic catalyst in bringing the city’s dream of Downtown revitalization come to fruition, with new developments happening all of the time.
Downtown is now buzzing with corporate headquarters, two professional sports teams and new offices and restaurants dotting the landscape. It has become one of the busiest commercial construction sites in the Southwest and an exciting place to live, work, dine, play and, for visitors, to stay.
Twenty minutes south of this vibrant downtown area is the Town of Sahuarita, the subject of a special report. As Sahuarita celebrates its first quarter century this year, its leaders have significant goals for the region’s growth and its role as a major contributor to the area’s economy. Christy Krueger writes that town leaders are focusing on “residents’ needs and wants, maintaining the quality of life, and supporting the town’s award-winning school programs – all important considerations moving into the future – as are attention to the growing job market, the health of small businesses and relationships with major industries of the area.”
The future also looks bright for the region’s education and its impact on workforce development as Pima Community College marks its 50th anniversary. Pima’s visionary Chancellor Lee Lambert and his team are developing impressive Centers of Excellence across Pima’s various campuses. These COEs are the foundation of Lambert’s long-term vision for the college and will serve to significantly advance economic development throughout Southern Arizona. As part of this this report by writers Romi Carrell Wittman, April Bourie and Lee Allen, you’ll also see the first public sneak preview of plans for Pima’s greatly expanded Downtown campus.
This issue of BizTucson also underscores an evolving economic trend – our newfound ability to attract much-needed venture capital for the region’s entrepreneurs. At the top of list is UA Venture Capital, spearheaded by Fletcher McCusker and Michael Deitch – along with a new venture capital firm called BlueStone Capital, led by Mara Aspinall, former head of Ventana Medical Systems. Solstice Capital’s Harry George recently took part in a forum on what it will take to continue to grow the regions’ innovation economy. What an impressive way to launch the New Year ahead!
Steven E. Rosenberg
Publisher & Owner