IAN McDOWELL

VP & Tucson Regional Director, Sundt Construction Inc.

Which economic development “victories” over the years have had the most impact on your business and why?

The resurgence of downtown Tucson has been not only thrilling to see, but also very impactful on our business. One of the most significant successes occurred when we were selected to build the Tucson Mining Center for Caterpillar, as facilitated by Rio Nuevo in close collaboration with Sun Corridor Inc. The success of that project is one of the best calling cards we have and has led to multiple other projects for large corporate office tenants and other key clients working downtown.

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

Our community’s ability to fast track a potential business from concept to construction will have an impact on how many of these organizations commit to the Tucson region. I think there is an opportunity to be the best in class in how we move projects through the design review process, namely how we deliver building permits and development plans to facilitate a rapid start to construction of new projects. Dialog has already started on these topics, and I believe solutions could include collaborations between the private sector and local area governmental agencies to facilitate fast tracking of development plans.

Tucson has developed a number of industry clusters that are gaining momentum in the region such as aerospace and defense, mining, biosciences and medicine, and various aspects of technology. Do you consider those to be areas that need continued focus and why?

I absolutely think these areas should be where our focus continues. These industries provide high-paying jobs, and the corporations involved tend to foster other work with local small businesses to support their efforts in the region. Once a cluster is established, the ability to attract new similar enterprises is enhanced, and so does their ability to recruit their workforce. That said, I think we ought to embrace businesses of all sizes and types. Manufacturing, data centers, and even light industrial projects provide opportunities for people in the region to earn a livable wage. 

In what ways can you, as a member of the Sun Corridor Inc. Chairman’s Circle, contribute to continuing the momentum that has been generated in the region in recent years?

I was fortunate enough to be part of a meeting last year where a delegation of representatives from Sun Corridor Inc. met with a delegation from Sweden at their embassy in Chicago. At that meeting we found out they were bringing a technology consortium from their country to explore the possibility for expansion in Arizona. Staff from Sun Corridor Inc. were able to convince that group to extend their trip to Southern Arizona and we were able to host them through tours of existing businesses and by highlighting the advantages of living and working in Southern Arizona. I tell this story to express something simple. Join and show up. We had a strong contingent of volunteers on this trip and as a collective we are hopeful it will pay dividends for our region.

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