President & CEO, Sun Corridor Inc.
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?
Businesses looking to relocate or expand will prioritize communities and regions that they can easily get to, move around in and transport product in and out of all on smooth and efficient surfaces of roads and highways. It’s a basic need for not only the primary job-focused clients we work with, but every business large and small. It’s a top site-selection criteria for these reasons. The most pressing issue in infrastructure is securing levels of investment we need from the federal infrastructure dollars coming down the pike.
As far as talent goes, it’s the No. 1 site-selection criteria in nearly every project we have. Talent drives all market decisions. The talent equation now has an elevated level of importance with low unemployment, massive job openings and higher wage levels needed to recruit and retain top talent.
Our Pivot Playbook has a number of key actions we are tackling in this area. Last year we developed a talent attraction-focused web site called Thrive in Tucson, which works as a “one-stop shop” of Tucson resources and information that answers the question – what’s it like to live and work in Southern Arizona?
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?
We sell talent and all of the aspects related to it: talent that is here with the skill sets that client needs; talent development with our higher education partners the University of Arizona, Pima Community College and ASU; and Pima JTED and the K-12 educational system that is bringing up the next generation of talent.
We sell the community’s partnerships and relationships. A client can work through SCI and leverage all of the resources we have on our Chairman’s Circle and Board. We can connect our clients with anything they need. We sell the fact that you can be a big fish in a smaller pond, at less cost of doing business, than larger markets.
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?
To be successful in economic development, we have to match our assets with a company’s needs. Simply put, these targeted industries are important because we can be competitive within them to attract business. We have what they need. Companies in these industries can leverage the current and future assets of the region and provide our economy the best opportunity for long-term success. In the work we do, we focus on four industry targets. This doesn’t mean we don’t serve any primary industry who may call us, but these are our best, higher-skilled and higher-paying prospects.