BRIG. GEN. JEFFREY BUTLER
Commander, 162nd Wing Air National Guard
What are some of the ways you have seen collaboration between the various economic development partners improve over the last several years?
Intentional collaboration between partners has made for the biggest improvements over the last several years. The Morris Air National Guard Base’s partnership with the Tucson Airport Authority is a prime example of a win-win situation for collaboration and economic development in Tucson.
As a self-sustaining entity, capital improvements at Tucson International Airport, such as runway and terminal construction, are traditionally funded through state and federal grants, with a matching share from the TAA depending on the grant and respective cost formula. One recent partnership that is taking shape is the End-Around Taxiway Project (referred to as DBB1). DBB1 is the first of three Design-Bid-Build (DBB) projects associated with the Airfield Safety Enhancement (ASE) Program at TUS. The ASE program has been a great opportunity for the 162nd Wing to partner with the TAA and Federal Aviation Administration to meet new federal safety standards and address long-standing airfield geometry issues that will increase airfield safety.
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?
Members of the Arizona Air National Guard are embedded in our community, and sense of community is one of the top selling points for this region. Tucson offers a rich, welcoming southwest culture blind to ethnicity. Diversity is an integral part of the AZ ANG, and that is reciprocated in the composition of our hometown.
And food. You can’t beat the dining options and quality of food that is available locally. Our Force Support Squadron is praised on a monthly basis for the 7,000 meals they make from locally-sourced agriculture and goods.
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?
Aerospace and defense have bolstered the local and state economy since the 1950s, but there exists a small but vocal population that would just assume we packed up, moved out and never came back. The military’s presence in the region needs continued focus for several reasons, but primarily because of the local economic impact and homeland defense capabilities that we provide.
A 2014 Military Affairs Commission Study indicates that the military has a $383 million annual economic impact on the local community. But the roots are even deeper for members of the Arizona Air National Guard. We recruit locally and have several generations of families who work on the base.
But most importantly, securing our nation’s skies and protecting the U.S. and state of Arizona is a written and inherent part of our mission at the 162nd Wing. We support the North American Aerospace Defense Command in providing 24/7 immediate response operations from Tucson.