SUSAN GRAY

President & CEO, Tucson Electric Power

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

Improved collaboration has been critical to our community’s economic development success. The introduction of focused economic development stakeholder meetings has really helped, and we’ve seen strong participation from collaborators across our region – from top elected officials down through the development staff, plus infrastructure providers, education leaders and workforce development agencies.

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?

Infrastructure is our business, so we never take it for granted. Our projects have long lead times, particularly for new customers with significant electrical needs. That’s why our engagement at the front end of project inquiries is so critical, to ensure that we’re in a position to respond promptly and get started on any necessary improvements. It’s also why we’re focused so intently on resource planning to ensure the availability of safe, reliable and increasingly sustainable energy for our community’s future.

While those energy resources are critical, our people remain our most valuable resource. We’re focused on the engagement and growth of our current employees because we know that’s the best way to attract new talent. Like a lot of employers, we’ve also grown more innovative in our approach to remote and hybrid work in roles where that kind of flexibility is possible. We’re also clear about communicating our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, so job seekers know that TEP is a place where they can bring their best, true selves to work.

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?

Quality of life and our location in a growing, warm-weather state with proximity to major markets have always been key selling points. But Tucson is also being recognized internationally for our diverse, talented workforce and a burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem supported by a major research university.

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?

We do need to continue supporting the growth of those sectors, but that’s not something we can do with a single, across-the-board approach. Each of those clusters is unique and requires different types of support from our government leaders, infrastructure providers and other stakeholders.

The pandemic has changed the game board, creating openings for us to build new clusters in areas like logistics/supply chain providers and automotive technologies. But we can’t ever lose sight of our need to support the unique and continuing needs of our community’s key industries.

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