Spring Issue 2021

From The Publisher –

Downtown Rising

As we go to press, it’s been exactly one year since the U.S. declared a national emergency. This global pandemic created one of the most challenging years in modern times. The crisis of COVID-19, along with a severe economic downturn, closed businesses and schools, struggling nonprofits…the list goes on. At the same time, it’s a modern-day miracle that thousands of vaccines arrived at the University of Arizona, Tucson Medical Center, Tucson Convention Center and other locations. There is now a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Miraculously, Tucson has once again shown a spirit of resilience. Nationally, our city has been on the radar as one of the Top 10 US cities best positioned to recover post Covid-19, according to Moody’s Analytics in a recent Forbes article. Rather than putting the brakes on the ongoing facelift going on in Downtown Tucson, builders and developers continued with more than $500 million in construction projects during the pandemic, according to Fletcher McCusker, Chair of the Rio Nuevo Board. 

In a year that Tucsonans have mostly been confined to their homes, working remotely, with limited opportunities to venture out, Downtown Tucson has undergone a transformation that will surprise – maybe even shock – anyone who hasn’t been keeping tabs.

You’ll be astounded by the amount of construction projects in the works, many of them completed in 2020. “We were worried in the pandemic that everything would just dry up, but Tucson is identified now as one of the premier destinations, post-pandemic,” said Rio Nuevo Board Chair Fletcher McCusker. “As a result of that, we’re seeing a lot of inbound interest.” The Tucson Convention Center is undergoing a $65 million renovation, with a newly completed parking garage, plus planned renovations for the Music Hall, Leo Rich Theater, the historic Eckbo Fountains and more. Journalist Jay Gonzales files an in-depth report into our rapidly revitalizing and transforming Downtown Tucson. Lots of apartment homes are coming into the market, two new hotels have been completed, with a couple more on the way, plus luxury lofts and more. These are just the type of amenities that draw more young professionals to the urban core to live, eat, work and play. 

Not only is our city’s future bright, with a vibrant downtown, we have young stakeholders who serve with unwavering dedication and commitment, striving to take our region to the next level. In this spirit, BizTucson presents the inaugural Next Gen Leaders – 20 Rising Stars To Watch. Journalist Romi Carrell Wittman profiles leaders who are actively engaged in many causes through organizations like Flinn-Brown Fellows, the flagship program of the nonpartisan Arizona Center for Civic Leadership – plus other organizations including Tucson Young Professionals, Emerging Leaders Council, Greater Tucson Leadership and others. These 20 Next Gen leaders share their vision for our region’s future and how they’ve been able to navigate through the challenges of this past year. 

And finally, our in-depth Special Report focuses on Pima JTED, the Joint Technical Education District, one of this region’s under-the-radar success stories. You are sure to be inspired by this “national model of tuition-free job training” and the 100,000+ students who say “JTED changed my life.” Exceptional reporting by Tara Kirkpatrick and Rodney Campbell, plus the outstanding creative design and photography by Brent Mathis. 

Pima JTED’s new 50,000-square-foot campus – the Innovative Learning Center @ The Bridges – is definitely a new flagship of our region’s future. The campus is now within range of 52,000 high school students and serves as a lucrative crossroads for career and technical education in Southern Arizona.

As we mark our 12th Anniversary of BizTucson Magazine, we are grateful for our loyal readers, the tremendous support of our advertisers and our exceptional editorial team and their high standard of journalism.

Steven E. Rosenberg

Publisher & Owner


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