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Tucson getting new looks from corporate America

Tucson getting new looks from corporate America

Joe Snell

Tucson is getting a lot of attention from companies looking to expand and even add new corporate headquarters.

Following 12 months of good job news, Sun Corridor Inc., the region’s economic-development agency, is adding staff to field inquiries about what Tucson has to offer and aggressively market the region.

Since the city hosted the National Site Selector’s Guild meeting in March, Tucson has received seven solid leads from interested companies, including three that are active in property searches, said Joe Snell, CEO of Sun Corridor.

He said the companies are complementary to Caterpillar and Raytheon Missile Systems, which both have announced hundreds of new local jobs.

“We’re building on recent successes by talking to companies that want to be in their proximity,” Snell said.

In its fiscal year-end president’s memo, Sun Corridor reports 18 projects, with more than 5,900 new jobs to be added over the next five years.

Companies such as Hexagon Mining, adding 119 jobs; Vector Space Systems, adding 200 jobs; and Ascensus, adding 192 jobs, have boosted regional confidence, said Dave Hutchens, the new chairman of the board for Sun Corridor.

“The net that we’re casting is getting a little broader,” he said. “When we’re out there talking to potential companies, we’re pointing out the key anchor companies that are already here and finding their support industry.”

More interest from manufacturing companies could help boost wages for area residents, Hutchens said.

“Recruiting higher-wage jobs is key, but we can’t forget the rest of the community,” he said.

And, aside from the headline-grabbing job announcements, every week a new business is opening or expanding, adding a handful of jobs.

Taken collectively, those small business are adding thousands of jobs in Tucson every year.

Restaurants and bakeries add a dozen jobs upon opening, and medical-care and assisted-living facilities between 20 and 35 with every opening.

“As a community, we have made good strides in righting our economy and turning it in a positive direction,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “There are all kinds of business expansions, both large and small and some that are never recorded.

“But now is not a time to become complacent,” he said. “As a community, we should double down on our efforts and our investment.”

Tucson is the No. 1 city on Google trends, according to Resonance Consultancy, advisers in real estate, tourism and economic development. National interest in Tucson is on the rise, partly due to recent positive news.

Hutchens said Sun Corridor wants to capitalize on the momentum that began, in his opinion, when Tucson was in the running to land the Tesla Inc. plant.

“We had a big fish on the line, and the urgency and excitement got us all to throw down the walls and get into a room,” he said. “Even though we didn’t ultimately get that, we were very high on their list and everyone looked at each other and thought, ‘Look what we can do.’”

Since then, the work-together attitude from the city, county, local utilities and the private sector have remained strong, Hutchens said.

“The fact that we have much better collaborative efforts means we’ll start seeing a more robust growth rate,” he said.

Hutchens, president and chief executive officer of Tucson Electric Power and its parent company, UNS Energy, will serve two years as chairman of the Sun Corridor board of directors.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at

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