Fletcher McCusker 

CEO, UAVenture Capital 
Chair, Rio Nuevo

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Customer loyalty. Although we are over 1 million people now, Tucson behaves like a small town towards its business colleagues. Restaurants, grocery stores, auto mechanics, auto dealers, appliance dealers, dry cleaners and entertainment venues thrive through word of mouth advertising, fierce customer loyalty and a neighborhood friendliness like you would see in a small town. Major employers here are heroic and are placed around a very grateful group of citizens that are appreciative of larger employers, especially those that relocate here. Companies like Caterpillar, Amazon, Home Goods, American Battery Factory, Roche and Raytheon are iconic in Tucson and, moreover, famous. If Caterpillar had relocated to Phoenix or Denver the company would hardly be noticed. Tucson, as a whole, celebrates these competitive victories, and relocated companies will tell you how welcomed they are when employees begin to arrive. 

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Tucson is the next Austin. Tucson is now No. 1 in the U.S. for tech job growth. Dozens of startup companies, new venture capital, spinout companies from the University of Arizona, big company staff creating entrepreneurial opportunities, a Top 5 downtown, a top music scene and a world renown food destination have all emerged just in the last five years. Post-COVID, Tucson is the recipient of young people bailing from the big cities, leaving toxic environments like San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Urban Tucson has seen thousands of new apartments, 80 new restaurants, new hotels, new concert venues and a modern streetcar. While desert dwellers love their space, Tucson has been surprised by the growth of its urban core. It doesn’t hurt that our mean temperature is 73.3 degrees and we enjoy a 100-year supply of pure, underground water. While Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are reeling from the drought, Tucson has returned our Colorado River allotment to help our water starved neighbors to the north.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Tucson is a boom town. Post-COVID, Tucson has seen significant increases in people moving to the region, especially from California. What used to be a sleepy rodeo town, dependent on tourism, is now a hip, youthful, urban region but with a nearby desert, and creating opportunity across every metric. This means available talent at every level from engineers to factory workers. Tucson can now meet the hiring demands of any employer, with a lifestyle second to none − no hurricanes, no tornados, no floods, no drought issues and, oh yes, no mosquitoes. Answer this question: Why would you want to live and work anyplace else? 


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