MIKE MENARD

General Manager, Bombardier Aviation Tucson Service Center

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

As a relatively recent transplant to the Tucson area, I still get the impression that Tucson is one of Arizona’s best kept secrets. While Sun Corridor Inc. is doing a fantastic job of promoting the region from a business perspective, in the final analysis, companies are people, and we need to attract people to come live in Tucson. 

Two of the top focus areas in the Pivot Playbook recovery plan are infrastructure and talent acquisition. Within those two focus areas, what are the most pressing issues for your organization and what can your organization do to address those? 

The most pressing issue for the aviation and aerospace industry is the need for a qualified workforce. To serve its customer base, Bombardier requires a workforce with skills acquired over a period of many years, including specialized training and schooling. Over the last two decades, the nature of the talent flow from the military services was such that there was no need for the promotion of aviation careers at the high school and college levels. 

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, corporate aviation flying dropped dramatically as the world shut down. As the world slowly re-opened, the need for corporate and private flying increased sharply to levels that are currently well above pre-pandemic levels. Those increased flying hours translate quickly into an increased maintenance demand which, concurrent with the overall labor shortage in the world, creates an exponentially larger problem. 

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? 

While the readily available inventory of industrial space remains low, the availability of land to support that development is there as a “build-to-suit” opportunity. The overall business climate in the region has improved and government entities stand ready to support and help in any way they can. From a talent acquisition point of view, the affordability of the Tucson area along with its countless offerings for entertainment, fine dining, hiking, golf, etc.,  is also a key selling point.

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? 

Short answer: YES! As a general rule for those industry clusters, establishing a presence in a given location represents significant investment both in terms of real estate as well as talent. Given the magnitude of that investment, these companies are considering a long-term presence in the Tucson area. From an economic development standpoint, these industries bring skilled, highly compensated and stable jobs to the area, creating a pool of talent attracting other companies in the same or closely related industries. Trying to be everything to everyone has never proven to be a winning strategy. 

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