The following is the opinion and analysis of the writers:
The COVID-19 pandemic will end someday — hopefully sooner than later. There are actions we can take now to ensure that our community emerges from this crisis as intact and strong as possible. We mustn’t wait. It is essential to the cohesiveness and overall well-being of everyone in our region that, during this crisis, we support the many arts and culture organizations, restaurants and businesses of downtown Tucson.
Sun Corridor’s predecessor, TREO, released an Economic Blueprint for Greater Tucson in 2007. The blueprint identifies the actions we must take as a community in order to strengthen our economy and attract, create and retain jobs.
As a key component of success, the blueprint recognizes that “any community’s downtown is not only its outward face, but an integral component of its economic heart and soul. Tucson is no different, and it desperately needs a vibrant downtown that includes a robust balance of office workers, residents, cultural/entertainment venues and important linkages to the University of Arizona.”
When the pandemic hit, we were well on our way to achieving this vision. Our arts and culture venues were vibrant and diverse. Businesses and merchants were expanding. Established and new restaurants were thriving. New employers were moving downtown. Office buildings and new hotels were under construction. The community was united in the pursuit of a common goal. We cannot let the many multifaceted advances we had made slip away.
There are actions we can take today to ensure that, as we emerge from the pandemic, the progress made downtown is not lost. Here’s how you can help:
1. Contribute to one of the many downtown arts organizations, museums, performing arts venues or other cultural facilities. We are blessed to have an incredible mix of cultural resources. They are suffering during the pandemic and need as much financial support as possible. Now is the time to do it when you can still receive a tax deduction for 2020.
2. Dine in or order takeout from a downtown restaurant. The choices are diverse, the food world-class and it is safe.
3. Shop at a local merchant. There is much variety and you will be greeted with an enthusiastic and welcoming smile.
4. Drive through downtown during the holidays. The many lights and decorations will cheer you up during these stressful and trying times.
Visit the Downtown Tucson Partnership website (downtowntucson.org) to see the extreme precautions that have been implemented to ensure that your downtown experience is as safe as possible. The website also provides detailed information on the many cultural, dining and shopping opportunities that exist.
In its report on “The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities”, the International Downtown Association recognizes that “downtowns serve as the epicenter of commerce, capital investment, diversity, public discourse, and knowledge and innovation. They provide social benefits through access to community spaces and public institutions. They play a crucial role as the hub for employment, civic engagement, arts and culture, historical importance, local identity and financial impact.” This is so true for our community and our downtown.
Pima County, the city of Tucson and the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District have made it easy and safe to dine, shop and visit downtown. The character of a community can be measured by how it responds to crisis situations. We can be proud of the way that our local governments, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector have united to meet the challenges we face and prepare us for a successful emergence from the pandemic.
Lawrence Hecker chairs the Downtown Tucson Partnership, and Fletcher McCusker chairs the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District.