The world’s top consultants for companies looking to expand or relocate have descended on Tucson for their annual conference.

The Site Selectors Guild chose Tucson as the location for its annual conference two years ago and, this weekend, members began arriving for the three-day conference that starts Monday.

“It’s like hosting the Olympics of economic development and we don’t have to build a stadium,” quipped Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., the regional economic development agency. “These are the decision makers.”

Choosing a host city is a very competitive process, and so is attendance.

The 43 members of the guild are joined by close to 300 people from different economic development agencies throughout the world and the conferences sell out in minutes, said Phil Schneider, chairman of the guild.

“We cap the number of people who can come so it’s not overwhelmingly large,” he said.

The pitch from Arizona was impressive, Schneider said, because the state offered several venues and settings.

There were a lot of logistical criteria that had to be met and, “we wanted it to be a dynamic area,” he said.

Some guild members arrived early to attend the Tucson Festival of Books, go on guided hikes, bike rides, golfing or to lounge by the pool at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, where the conference will be held.

“It’s no secret it’s a lovely time of year to be in Tucson,” Schneider said. “Tucson checked all the boxes.”

The National Weather Service says temperatures should be in the upper 80s during the conference.

Just what Snell ordered.

“No, I don’t know what put us over the top,” he said. “I think they’re recognizing Tucson and Southern Arizona as being on the move.”

The Site Selectors Guild is an invitation-only organization with a stringent vetting process.

Guild members help companies identify the best location for an expansion or relocation based on numerous amenities and demographics. The organization guides location projects valued at more than $30 billion.

The host city is not necessarily being highlighted during the conference, but it is a chance to show off.

“They get to put their eyes on the market,” Snell said. “We are hosting a group that is a significant influencer on the majority of corporate relocation and expansion decisions. This is great news for us.”

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