I read the opinion of columnist Jonathan Hoffman that appeared last Sunday and agree that laws exist for a reason. In fact, Arizona Revised Statute 11-254 does exist for a very specific reason, which is why Pima County relied upon it when we entered into an economic-development lease/purchase agreement with World View Enterprises.
The law simply gives the Board of Supervisors the authority to enter into any lease or sale of real property for economic-development purposes.
In attracting World View, the County is spending $17,056,841, including interest payments, to provide World View with administrative and manufacturing headquarters. Pima County taxpayers will receive $24,850,000 in return during the lease period, making a profit of $7,793,159 — hardly a gift of taxpayers’ money, as claimed by the Goldwater Institute.
World View is the exact type of high-wage, high-technology employment Pima County needs. World View is an emerging and growing space company, employing high-wage, high-technology employees and providing vital commercialization of the stratosphere. This is precisely the type of economic development we want in Pima County.
Mr. Hoffman uses the term “secret” in his column to describe the confidentiality agreement we entered into when negotiating the agreement. These confidentiality requirements are imposed by the Arizona Commerce Authority based on requests from the relocating company and are a common private-sector requirement. Every economic development project is given a code name either by the ACA or by Sun Corridor Inc., our regional economic-development private-sector entity.
For example, in addition to Project Curvature for World View, Project Coled was the code name for Caterpillar, Project Omni for Vector Space, Project Safeguard for the Raytheon expansion and Project Transport for HomeGoods. These code names are used for specific reasons, in particular because most private-sector employers looking to expand or relocate do not want to upset their existing employment base about a possible relocation prior to finalizing an agreement.
The ACA, Sun Corridor Inc. and regional jurisdictions other than Pima County were engaged with World View over a year before the matter came to the Board of Supervisors for a decision. These projects are very competitive and often take many months to complete. Disclosure of the company name seldom occurs in order to prevent other locations from knowing who is competing.
This was not a county “secret,” it was simply good business.
Mr. Hoffman also states the World View economic-development package was given to the board one day ahead of the board meeting to vote on. That is absolutely incorrect. All material was provided to the board six days before the meeting. More importantly, any member of the board who inquires receives a full briefing on the county’s economic-development activities.
In addition, board Chair Sharon Bronson is a member of Sun Corridor’s Chairman’s Circle and receives regular briefings on all economic-development prospects throughout the region.
Attracting and keeping World View in Pima County was a significant decision that has led the way for other space-related companies that pay high wages and employ many Pima County residents. This was all done lawfully and legally, using the correct leasing statute, created for the purpose of facilitating economic development. There was no gift, as exemplified by the profit taxpayers will make .
Finally, the Arizona Court of Appeals agrees with our position on this statute, since it overturned the Superior Court ruling against the county in the World View case.
We look forward to many more economic-development successes using these same laws.