DAVID SMALLHOUSE

Managing Director, Miramar Ventures

Secretary/Treasurer – Sun Corridor Inc.

What are some of the ways you have seen collaboration between the various economic development partners improve over the last several years?

Even before the pandemic, it was apparent that the leadership in Tucson began a more collaborative process to address challenges and issues facing our region. It was refreshing to witness leadership in the local, state and federal government work with education and major employers to develop solutions. I truly believe that Sun Corridor Inc. played an instrumental role to create an even more cooperative culture during the pandemic, especially in economic development. Sun                Corridor’s team was able to bring industry, government and higher-education leaders together to develop the Pivot Playbook. It is an effective plan to exit the pandemic with our region in a better place to live, work and attract, plus retain key economic contributors.

What are some issues that you think need more or better collaboration and how would you begin to address those?

Fixing and improving our roads has been an issue in our community for decades. The underlying issue is how do we fund this critical infrastructure? Some local funding solutions have been put into place but historically and currently these solutions have been essentially Band-Aid solutions. When you look at our neighboring states, they addressed the issue by increasing taxes on transportation fuels with the result that there is a noticeable difference in the quality of their roads and highways. With the increasing adoption of electric vehicles, there is a need to develop a means to include them in the solutions to finance our road infrastructure. Electric vehicles obviously pay no fuel taxes but the wear and tear these vehicles cause is at least equal to fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. Inclusion of electric vehicles to pay their fair share, I believe, is a high priority opportunity for the state to develop a creative solution to fund transportation infrastructure based on vehicle miles driven. 

I do believe communication between the municipalities and Pima County have recently improved and I hope it continues. It is always challenging to minimize turf issues and I do not know of a silver-bullet solution. But if we continue to improve communications and work together towards sound fiscal policies in a cooperative manner, our region will benefit in so many ways.

If you were involved in the recruitment of a company to the region, what are the top selling points of the region that you would want to communicate to a prospective employer?

Our regional community has so much to offer. We have a world-class education, research and outreach university. Plus, we have a community college that is being widely recognized for its cutting-edge workforce development education in conjunction with its quality traditional education curriculum. Tucson is widely known as a friendly, open and engaging community where newcomers are welcomed quickly. And of course, for outdoor enthusiasts, our weather and recreational offerings, including our beautiful natural resources, are world-renowned.

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