Gov. Jan Brewer was in town on Wednesday to visit Tucson-based Universal Avionics Systems Corp., a leading maker of aircraft cockpit instruments, in celebration of Arizona Manufacturers Month.
Brewer toured the manufacturing line at the company’s south-side plant, which employs about 250 people, watching as automated machines and workers built components from circuit boards up to final assembly.
“This Arizona company is a great example of the kind of business we seek to attract as we expand our strong manufacturing base,” Brewer told Universal workers on the factory floor, who snapped photos as she spoke.
Brewer said she’s focused on making Arizona “the best place to do business” and noted that after some rough years, jobs are returning.
The state has a budget surplus and has moved up in economic rankings for entrepreneurship and business growth, including a recent ranking by Forbes magazine as the top state for projected job growth.
She vowed to continue to work for lean regulations, competitive tax policies and an educated workforce.
Brewer was asked afterward if she would consider restoring some state funding of Arizona’s community colleges and universities to support the workforce, which has seen deep cuts in recent years.
“It’s certainly something I’m very, very interested in, because we know we need that high level of jobs, just like (Universal) Avionics here in Tucson,” the governor replied.
Steve Pagnucco, general manager of Universal Avionics’ manufacturing division, praised what he called Brewer’s business-friendly policies.
He noted that then-Gov. Jane Hull had signed a workforce-development bill in 2000 on the company’s manufacturing floor.
Pagnucco said the company works with groups including the Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Manufacturers Council and local community colleges and universities to help boost workforce development and find qualified workers.
“The education systems are critical for our success, and its all of them — it’s K through 12, it’s the community colleges, its the universities — we can’t overemphasize the importance of education in this state,” Pagnucco said.