10 Reasons for Optimism
By Jay Gonzales
It would be incredibly difficult to find anyone who would say the COVID-19 pandemic has been anything but devastating.
With three months to go in 2020, the deaths, the disruption of the economy, the political divisiveness, the isolation and, for Tucson, a destructive forest fire this summer, have made this one of the worst years of the modern era.
Yet, to focus a bit on optimism, many in the region are hoping the pandemic’s aftermath could be Tucson’s moment to shine. Momentum is building that suggests living and working here, post-COVID-19, could be brighter than many cities in America. From the quality of life to the steady economic progress over the past decade, our region holds great promise.
In fact, Tucson has been named in numerous publications and studies as being well-positioned for a post-COVID-19 rebound, including a noteworthy Moody’s Analytics study published in Forbes magazine that ranked Tucson as one of the top 10 cities poised for a recovery.
As UAVenture Capital CEO Fletcher McCusker told BizTucson in this issue: “Pre-pandemic Tucson was being considered the next Austin: tech jobs, rich culture, great university and, moreover, deal flow.” None of those things have changed.
Still, regional leaders insist there is much work to do.
“It’s great that we have some independent groups that are saying we’re well-positioned,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., the region’s economic development engine. “We do think that there are going to be some trends that carry forward post-COVID that do put us in a great position. This is largely building on some of the things that we’ve already been winning with.”
With this in mind, BizTucson has dedicated this issue to a list of 10 reasons for optimism for the Tucson region as we focus on recovery.
1. Forbes Ranks Tucson in Top 10 Cities Best Positioned to Recover
Citing a Moody Analytics report, Forbes published a story in May that included Tucson among the potential post-COVID-19 winners – thanks to its low population density, growing tech hub status and home to higher education campuses. Page 46
2. New Homes & Residential Real Estate Sales Surge
After an initial pandemic drop, sales of new and existing homes across Tucson have sharply increased with a promising forecast. Page 50
3. Top Companies Choose Tucson, Poised for Growth
Tucson has curated a steady employment base, bringing Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon and Caterpillar to Southern Arizona, while also seeing expansion by established giants such as Raytheon Missiles & Defense. Page 68
4. Startup Central – Tucson’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
New ideas and new companies thrive here, thanks to a substantial support network fostered by the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, Startup Tucson, Tech Parks Arizona, UAVenture Capital and more. Page 72
5. Rio Nuevo Projects and Others Expand Downtown Skyline
Several new commercial construction projects are nearing completion throughout downtown Tucson, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Page 82
6. Pima County Businesses are Ready For You
Notice all those new Ready For You blue stickers on businesses? Pima County was out front with a comprehensive plan to assure the public that favorite haunts were safe and virus-vigilant. Page 92
7. Tucson Targets Remote Workers to Relocate
Startup Tucson has launched an ambitious campaign to recruit workers who are already employed, yet working remotely, to relocate with incentives and networking to keep them here. Page 94
8. Millennials Drawn to Mid-Sized Cities
Tucson has what millennials want – the great outdoors, increasing tech jobs and an affordable, urban-minded community where they can get in on the ground floor. Page 96
9. Tucson’s Industrial Authority and Business Development Finance Corporation
A little-known but expertly managed financial assistance program can help first-time home buyers with mortgage payments and even small business loans. Page 98
10. Resilient & Ready – Sun Corridor Inc. Looks Ahead
The region’s top business leaders have noted the national attention for Tucson and are ready to seize on it with a devoted working group and a detailed plan forward. Page 102