Economic Development, TREO, and Travel
I have believed, from the day the community first elected me to represent Ward 4 way back in 1995, that this Ward, due to the available undeveloped land, zoning, connection to the transportation hubs of the Union Pacific Railroad, Interstate Highways, and the Tucson International Airport, is the best opportunity to build the strongest economic engine within our current City boundaries.
This is not just my vision for our community moving into the future. It is fact demonstrated by the successful marketing of the area by TREO and the project development that they have done working with the private and public sector partners, and the investment made by those partners and new corporations coming into our region.
Partners like the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park; a center of innovation and development that is home to Raytheon, IBM, Citicorp, Global Solar, and the brand new Optum RX a division of United Healthcare. Partners like the Levin family who have built their Century Park Research Center and Port of Tucson, a designated Foreign Trade Zone and home to multiple warehousing and manufacturing businesses like Tucson Frozen Storage and MacSteel, and the foremost Intermodal rail hub in the Southwest. New corporate investors like Conservas La Costena, a Mexican Multi-National Corporation, who converted the SlimFast plant into the Arizona Canning Company and the Target Corporation with construction and operation of the Target Fulfillment Center.
These companies were shown the opportunity that my Ward and our community represents for them to make money, allow their organizations to grow, and provide better service to their customers. TREO, the City, the State, UofA Science and Tech Park staff, and developers like Diamond Ventures brought their collective knowledge, expertise, and resources together and worked collaboratively, to the benefit of us all, to make these investments happen.
What is the return on these investments? Jobs created and retained for now and for future generations, wealth generated, revenue produced for the services and amenities that our community wants, and long term sustainability for our City and region.
So we have had some successes in my Ward but where do we look now? There are lots more opportunities in Ward 4! We have space for at least 3 or 4 more buildings like a Target Fulfillment Center, almost 1million square feet under roof, and have space at both the UA Science and Tech Park and the Port of Tucson for potentially hundreds of other companies to join our community.
But my Ward does not exist in a vacuum nor does the City. There are opportunities in Ward 5, represented by Council Member Fimbres, at the UofA BioPark at 36th and Kino. There are opportunities in the County to pursue an Aerospace Park or District. There are opportunities in Oro Valley, where there Town Council, TREO, the County, and the State worked to bring in Roche as they acquired Ventana Medical Systems so that existing jobs would be retained and new jobs created as they expand. There are opportunities in Marana and there are even opportunities in Downtown Tucson. Unisource Energy, now UNS, and Providence Service Corporation have made huge commitments to downtown and are contributing members of TREO.
So with these successes and opportunities here locally why do I go on economic development learning trips like our recent trip to San Diego?
- To get to know Private Sector and Public Sector Partners that I do not get to work with regularly.
- To build relationships and trust with fellow elected officials from other jurisdictions so we are more effective when we have the opportunity to collaborate.
- To see first hand the success that another community has had and the impacts of that success.
- To go to where their experts are and learn from them with my community partners how they succeeded and determine what may be applicable to our community and region to duplicate or improve upon their success.
Why San Diego?
- San Diego has succeeded in building a massive BioTech sector during challenging economic times. This is an emerging part of our local economy and we want to grow it.
- San Diego has had great success in working with entrepreneurs and start ups and created organizations like CONNECT that can assist them taking tech products from research and design to market. They "grow their own". We need to look for these opportunities and make sure we aren’t missing the next big thing.
- San Diego has leveraged their relationship with Mexico and their proximity to the border to their mutual economic gain. We must continue to build our relationships with our border neighbors and make our economies work to our mutual advantage.
So what did I "take away"?
My primary "take away" from this trip was that in the major projects that we were shown there was incredible cooperation among all of the entities involved bringing them to fruition. The state legislators, county supervisors, city councils, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and the press all acknowledged that cooperation was the key.
All of the staff members involved were there to see the project succeed and not to glorify in personal accomplishments. There was a definite sense that if a project benefited the city of San Diego, it also benefited the county and the state.
Everyone shared in each other’s successes. That has value to me because we have not always had that kind of cooperation in our community. I believe in that level of cooperation. We have been getting better at it but we need to do more. Put our differences aside and take a look at the bigger picture – does a Roche/Ventana in Oro Valley benefit the City of Tucson? I say "Yes". Does it benefit the county and the state? Absolutely! I pledge to continue to work together with my counterparts from the state, county and neighboring communities, various chambers, TREO and others to seek out and support economic development opportunities for our entire region.
No one can do it alone - we need to work together to see success happen over our entire region.
To those asking why have we invested in TREO?
We have invested in TREO because they bring economic development expertise and knowledge and have been able to effectively bridge across our regional differences and work to bring opportunity to all of us. Without TREO much of the economic development success over the past 7 years would likely not have happened. They have put together these trips to help us understand the direction that our community can go and what we need to do to get there. We cannot accomplish what we need to accomplish in this community alone.