Mayor, City of Tucson

To what do you attribute some of the improvements in collaboration between the various entities involved in the region’s economic development? In other words, why has the environment improved over the years?

In one word: urgency. More people were at the table as we sought, and continue to search, for answers to shortages around supply chains, housing, and the workforce. There was a realization that through collaboration and an all-of-government approach we could jumpstart our economy and thrive as a region.

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

Water shortages and climate change present existential challenges to business that are now coming to a head. Customers and constituents are already asking businesses, government and utilities to accelerate efforts to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Tucson is doubling down on stakeholder meetings so we can communicate the urgency of our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan while getting clear input on the impacts of our efforts in community.

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?

Prospective companies are looking closely at Tucson because of the availability of talent coming out of the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. From bioscience to entrepreneurship to technical education, Tucson produces a reliable stream of talent year after year. Another important selling point is quality of life. Just this month our Economic Initiatives office was able to recruit Phantom Aerospace. Tucson is a hub for aerospace and defense, and they chose Tucson as their next home for 35 engineers to build their rockets. 

The Phantom Aerospace team cited our quality of life and opportunities for workforce as levers to successfully attract or relocate employees from other parts of the country. Housing in Tucson is relatively more affordable than in other states. And proximity to California, Colorado, and New Mexico − states where they do business − allows their workforce to stay and grow here.

Are there industries that the region should be more aggressive in pursuing and how would those fit within the makeup of the Tucson business structure?

In addition to our bullish approach to Tucson’s existing and small businesses to foster economic resiliency, Tucson’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is laser focused on our seven regional clusters to provide a strong foundation for Tucson’s economic development strategy. These include Aerospace & Defense; Photonics & Optics; Bioscience; Transportation & Logistics; Business Services; Renewable Energy & Natural Resources; and IT Services & Software.

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