The Desert Sun
It's a city that has left the “call center” mentality of economic development in the dust.
Greater Tucson kicked off its regional blueprint plan just a few years ago, and already it's gotten so much traction that Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc. is preparing to join forces with Flagstaff and Phoenix to create a “pyramid of power” to push the envelope.
Greater Tucson's blueprint strategy has had proven results.
Laura Shaw, senior vice president of marketing for TREO, said “Tucson: Job One,” convinced Mexico-based La Costeña to locate its U.S. headquarters there.
The region's proximity to rail, highway and air transportation and the region's united front made it a logistically attractive spot.
It's worked with 41 companies looking to expand or relocate in the region. Among them: Solon, SE, Schletter Inc., Prism Solar, General Plasma Inc., and Global Solar, Target.com Fulfillment Center, Stanley Inc. and Texas Instruments.
“The decision to locate in the greater Tucson region allows us to greatly improve our production and distribution efficiencies in order to serve the U.S. market and future customers,'' said Santiago Castro, chief executive of Arizona Canning/La Costeña.
“This facility not only serves our current needs but allows us room to grow; its proximity to rail, highway and air transportation is an attractive feature.”
Greater Tucson lists for its blueprint-related economic impact:
• New direct and indirect jobs: 8,402
• Capital investment from new companies and expansions: $347 million
• Economic impact: $1 billion
“What we've seen since the blueprint launched, and we track it very carefully, is that more and more of our wins are related to the target industries,'' Shaw said. “We're seeing results.”
Sixty-three percent of all successful TREO projects in the fiscal year ending in June were in the target zone, Shaw said, with 50 percent of the new jobs landing within the targeted industries.
TREO's position paper quotes a corporate executive who says Target.com could have picked California, but didn't, and it claims a 14 percent increase in the number of private sector investors.
The paper also highlights a $50million National Science Foundation grant a University of Arizona-led team at the BIO5 Institute landed to create a global center and cyber infrastructure to “change the way” plant, computer and information scientists think and work.
The five-year project, called iPlant Collaborative, is renewable for a second five years for a total of $100 million.
Startups such as Oro Valley-based Ventana Medical Systems also have gained from venture funding. Its value rose in 2008 when Switzerland-based Roche bought the company and 17.1 acres of land for $8.9million to extend its campus.
Ventana now is the headquarters of the global business unit of Roche that focuses on diagnostics, its CEO Severein Schwan has said. Ventana wants to raise staffing from 750 to more than 1,000.
How plan came about
What does Shaw, as chief marketing strategist for TREO, think about the road map?
“I couldn't do my job without the blueprint,'' she said. “It gives you a framework, a plan. You just institutionalize it and make it work.”
How does it work?
First off, Greater Tucson commissioned a blue-ribbon study. A 46-member steering committee was formed to work with Cincinnati-based KMK Consulting Co., LLC, the firm Greater Tucson hired to prepare the plan. Surveys were conducted and meetings held to tap opinion from 6,000 people and identify 10 clusters to pursue. More.