Jonathan Rothschild

Jonathan Rothschild

Tucson leaders say the city is making changes that will benefit the business community and help economic development.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and City Manager Michael Ortega will announce on Thursday morning, Jan. 5, the progress of several reforms the city has enacted to help businesses grow and to drive investment inside the city limits in 2017.

Rothschild said the changes already underway are the result of a series of conversations with the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, business leaders and city officials during the last 18 months.

One of those changes is the city’s adaptive reuse pilot program, designed to help small businesses and developers adapt older, smaller buildings to serve as new businesses.

The policy relaxes parking, density and other zoning requirements as well as permit-fee waivers. Rothschild said he is optimistic the policy will work well to promote investments inside the city limits.

The city has also begun to modernize the city’s sign code and has adopted a new software system in the planning and development services department at the request of business community.

Additionally, city officials in the development office are also surveying new businesses to see if they qualify for other, pre-existing incentive programs.

Mike Varney, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber, is proud of the successes he has had in finding new ways to spur economic development. The changes, he said, help local business owners.

Proposed infill districts, part of the adaptive reuse pilot program, require little in the way of city investment and don’t put burdens on businesses that do not want to participate.

“There is no downside,” Varney said.

Varney declined to elaborate, saying he would say more on Thursday.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson

Reporter

Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.