Archive for May, 2011

31st May
2011
written by Arizona Kid

Some of the best quotes from Walter Russel Mead’s story in American Interest:

1. California’s public unions are sucking the state dry.

2. For the fast 5 years California has been losing one Fortune 500 company per year.

3. California has the one of the worst business climates in the country: in three widely-cited rankings, California came 49th or 50th.  High taxes, rigid regulations, bribery, unresponsive bureaucrats: California has it all.

4. California has the country’s 6th highest total tax burden and yet also the largest budget deficit ($25.4bn projected for FY2012 — that’s about $687 per capita). 

5. In 2008, although California spent more on public schools than any other state in the country and more per pupil than many, its students ranked 49th (out of 51, including DC) in reading achievement, 48th in math.

Sounds like a winning plan to me……

California used to be the glory of this country, the dream by the sea, the magic state.  Now it produces so many criminals it can’t pay to keep them locked up.

This is partly a blue social model thing.  California’s public unions are sucking the state dry — like a parasite killing its host.  Too many Californians buy the ideology of entitlement best described by that great Louisiana prophet of the blue social model Huey Long: “If you aren’t getting something for nothing, you’re not getting your fair share.”

The federal government’s generation of serial failures in migration policy is also to blame.  More exposed to illegal migration than any other state, California has been overwhelmed by both legal and illegal immigrants.  Immigrants are a net plus for the United States, but neither the federal nor the state governments have been willing to provide the appropriate policy framework to manage this flow — and to cope with the consequences.

Some of the fault is judicial.  California’s prison blues partly reflect micromanagement by a host of addled judges who among them have imposed a conflicting and overlapping set of requirements that increase costs to the point where overall conditions decline.  One judge imposes a health mandate; another throws in some food and nutrition requirements; somebody else issues an order for exercise, education, visitation rights or what have you.  In the end the system becomes unmanageable and unsustainable and in yet another fatheaded intervention the Supreme Court supports a lower court order for mass prisoner release.  Judicial intervention in the prison system needs to be safe, legal and rare: at the moment it seems to be none of the above.

It’s partly about corporate flight.  Destructive and shortsighted tax policies have literally driven big corporations out of the state.  For the last five years, Southern California has been losing roughly one Fortune 500 corporate headquarters a year, while the state as a whole has lost four such companies in the last twelve months in an accelerating flight to greener pastures in less-dysfunctional states like Texas, Colorado and Virginia.

Meanwhile, California has the one of the worst business climates in the country: in three widely-cited rankings, California came 49th or 50th.  High taxes, rigid regulations, bribery, unresponsive bureaucrats: California has it all.

It has one of the most expensive and least effective governments in the country.  California has the country’s 6th highest total tax burden and yet also the largest budget deficit ($25.4bn projected for FY2012 — that’s about $687 per capita).  North Dakota, by contrast, balances its budget every year, educates its kids better, is creating new jobs and taxes its residents at less than half California’s level.

California’s school expenditures bear no relationship to results.  In 2008, although California spent more on public schools than any other state in the country and more per pupil than many, its students ranked 49th (out of 51, including DC) in reading achievement, 48th in math.  States like South Dakota spent much less per pupil and got much better results.

The former paradise of the automobile can’t even get car policy right; it has the country’s second highest gas prices and some of the worst traffic in the United States.

30th May
2011
written by Arizona Kid

This years budget in Tucson shows some surprising priorities set by the Tucson City Council. In the past two years Police has taken a $10 million cut, streets – $10 million and Fire $15 million. The only increase in outlay comes in the Sun Tran budget which experiences an $8 million INCREASE.  I guess we have our priorities straight.

From KVOA:

TUCSON – The Tucson Fire Department says besides cutting positions due to the City’s budget, they also say you could be seeing fewer fire trucks while on the road.

“We’re going to have the same number of calls or more. But we’re going to have less people, less fire trucks, less paramedic units to handle them,” Mike McKendrick said.

The Tucson Fire Department will be losing close to 60 fire fighters this summer who are retiring. The city will not replace those positions, which will affect response times.

“The city traditionally has a four-minute response time, with taking those units out of the system will push that response time up by the five-minute mark. So the citizens won’t enjoy the same type of service they’ve had in the past,” McKendrick said.

Emergency physicians believe first responders will be just as effective even with the change in response time, but it could pose concern for certain medical conditions.

“In traumas and in heart attacks time is tissue, and we consider that difference could have some effect,” Dr. Mazda Shirazi said.

Doctors said during these budget woes, they’ll continue to support first responders and learn to adjust.

“I’m never happy to see agencies decreasing their work force or having to cut back, because we see the paramedics and first responders as our eyes and ears in the public,” Dr. Shirazi said.

The Tucson Fire Department said the cuts will take effect June 1st.

30th May
2011
written by JHiggins

A great editorial from a sociology professor Tom Reifer, from UC San Diego – HERE

A few of the alarming stats:

- California’s mass incarceration boom, the nation’s largest, saw prisoners increase from 25,000 in 1980 to some 143,000 today. It was supported by the prison guards union, the most powerful lobby in the state, and set the pace for prison expansion in the nation as a whole. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States now has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, some 2.4 million persons. California built 21 new prisons from 1985-2005, or one a year. And in 2009, the United States saw its incarceration rate increase for the 37th year in a row.

- California has racked up a dubious achievement. Our state is home to the most expensive prison system in the world, costing roughly $50,000 annually per prisoner. We now spend more of the general fund on prisons – almost 11 percent – than on higher education, which only gets 7.5 percent.

- Black residents of California are now more likely to go to prison than college, a trend expressed in hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur’s lyrics: “You can’t conceal the fact, the penitentiary’s packed and it’s filled with blacks.” National statistics in this regard are compelling. Incarceration rates for high school dropouts aged 18 to 24 were 31 times higher than their college-educated counterparts, and for young black men, 60 times more likely.

28th May
2011
written by JHiggins

Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011 9:00 am | Updated: 10:11 am, Thu May 26, 2011.

By Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone, Inside Tucson Business | 0 comments

We all know about the frustration over the lack of direction by Tucson and Pima County governments as infrastructure crumbles. But this column isn’t about what’s not working.

Instead it’s about what happens when business owners and others finally realize “it’s time to MOVE.”

These are people who are no longer concerned whether Tucson Unified School District will ever offer a competitive world-class education. They don’t care about such things as the city’s anti-big box ordinace. They’re realizing Tucson’s and Pima County’s better days are behind them.

It’s time to MOVE – as in going for the Marana – Oro Valley Experience.

According to new Census demographics data, the wealth of this region is in Marana and Oro Valley. The average annual household income of Marana is $67,001 and Oro Valley is $71,628. Tucson’s average is $37,635.

If you owned a car dealership or appliance store, where would you set up shop?

Oro Valley and Marana are where Raytheon Missile Systems engineers, Tucson police officers and successful small business owners live and raise their families.

Oro Valley and Marana have high-achieving schools, parks and safe neighborhoods that attract companies like Roche and Sanofi Aventis.

Retirees like the shopping, planned housing communities and activities.

Marana has miles of cotton fields to build vibrant urban environments of the future. Oro Valley has the Santa Catalina Mountains, outdoor activities and resorts.

From an economic development perspective, the most recent successes in our region are in these jurisdictions with Sargent Controls expanding in Marana and Roche’s Ventana Medical Systems adding 500 jobs in Oro Valley, which is home to operations by both the world’s No. 3 and No. 6 biotech firms, along with the University of Arizona’s Bio5 Institute.

The time is ripe for these municipalities to seize contorol of their own destinies in tourism marketing.

In 1987, the City of Scottsdale branched away from the “Valley Of The Sun” to create its own convention and visitors bureau telling the world it’s a high-end destination that embraces its western roots but at the same time offers world-class luxury.

According to audit data, Scottsdale spends 51 percent of its bed tax money promoting itself to tourists. (Tempe and Albuquerque spend similar percentages.) By comparison, the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau spends 22 percent.

At its peak before the recession, the Tucson region saw 4 million visitors; Scottsdale saw 8 million in the same year.

Between the tragic events of Jan. 8, our sheriff telling national media this is a “mecca for hatred and bigotry,” and one of our congressmen calling for an economic boycott, Tucson’s already weak tourism brand may be nearly impossible to resurrect.

But Marana can distance itself as it continues to play host to the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play and its world-wide audience. Marana also has a Ritz-Carlton resort and a regional airport that can land a Boeing 737.

In the marketplace, business leaders know that competition keeps them from losing focus and becoming stagnant.

Marana and Oro Valley already are showing they can attract economic development. They also could become a world-class brand in tourism.

If you’re tired of the roadblocks and excuses put forth by leaders in Tucson and Pima County and are losing faith that things may never change, look north.

We know there are those who say the positives should extend all the way south to the city limits at River Road, and extend east to Vail and south to Sahuarita.

The fact is Marana and Oro Valley are already well on their way. At this point, Tucson’s elected officials may never be able to catch up.

For the rest of us it’s time to MOVE.

Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011 9:00 am | Updated: 10:11 am, Thu May 26, 2011.

By Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone, Inside Tucson Business | 0 comments

We all know about the frustration over the lack of direction by Tucson and Pima County governments as infrastructure crumbles. But this column isn’t about what’s not working.

Instead it’s about what happens when business owners and others finally realize “it’s time to MOVE.”

These are people who are no longer concerned whether Tucson Unified School District will ever offer a competitive world-class education. They don’t care about such things as the city’s anti-big box ordinance. They’re realizing Tucson’s and Pima County’s better days are behind them.

It’s time to MOVE – as in going for the Marana – Oro Valley Experience.

According to new Census demographics data, the wealth of this region is in Marana and Oro Valley. The average annual household income of Marana is $67,001 and Oro Valley is $71,628. Tucson’s average is $37,635.

If you owned a car dealership or appliance store, where would you set up shop?

Oro Valley and Marana are where Raytheon Missile Systems engineers, Tucson police officers and successful small business owners live and raise their families.

Oro Valley and Marana have high-achieving schools, parks and safe neighborhoods that attract companies like Roche and Sanofi Aventis.

Retirees like the shopping, planned housing communities and activities.

Marana has miles of cotton fields to build vibrant urban environments of the future. Oro Valley has the Santa Catalina Mountains, outdoor activities and resorts.

From an economic development perspective, the most recent successes in our region are in these jurisdictions with Sargent Controls expanding in Marana and Roche’s Ventana Medical Systems adding 500 jobs in Oro Valley, which is home to operations by both the world’s No. 3 and No. 6 biotech firms, along with C-Path and the University of Arizona’s Bio5 Institute.

The time is ripe for these municipalities to seize control of their own destinies in tourism marketing.

In 1987, the City of Scottsdale branched away from the “Valley Of The Sun” to create its own convention and visitors bureau telling the world it’s a high-end destination that embraces its western roots but at the same time offers world-class luxury.

According to audit data, Scottsdale spends 51 percent of its bed tax money promoting itself to tourists. (Tempe and Albuquerque spend similar percentages.) By comparison, the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau spends 22 percent.

At its peak before the recession, the Tucson region saw 4 million visitors; Scottsdale saw 8 million in the same year.

Between the tragic events of Jan. 8, our sheriff telling national media this is a “mecca for hatred and bigotry,” and one of our congressmen calling for an economic boycott, Tucson’s already weak tourism brand may be nearly impossible to resurrect.

But Marana can distance itself as it continues to play host to the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play and its world-wide audience. Marana also has a Ritz-Carlton resort and a regional airport that can land a Boeing 737.

In the marketplace, business leaders know that competition keeps them from losing focus and becoming stagnant.

Marana and Oro Valley already are showing they can attract economic development. They also could become a world-class brand in tourism.

If you’re tired of the roadblocks and excuses put forth by leaders in Tucson and Pima County and are losing faith that things may never change, look north.

We know there are those who say the positives should extend all the way south to the city limits at River Road, and extend east to Vail and south to Sahuarita.

The fact is Marana and Oro Valley are already well on their way. At this point, Tucson’s elected officials may never be able to catch up.

For the rest of us it’s time to MOVE.

Contact Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone at wakeuptucson@gmail.com. They host “Wake Up Tucson,” 6-8 a.m. weekdays on The Voice KVOI 1030-AM. Their blog is at www.TucsonChoices.com.

27th May
2011
written by clothcutter

Joe Snell.  Bob Walkup.  Larry Hecker.  Shirley Scott.  Greg Shelko.  Nina Trasoff.  Karin Uhlich. Dan Eckstom. Jonathan Walker.  Michael Guymon.  Rodney Glassman.  Chuck Huckelberry.  Rich Singer.  Jeff Digregorio.  Bob Gugino.  Raul Grijalva. Anne-Marie Russell.  Jack Camper.  Andrew Greenhill.  Jonathan Rothschild.  Regina Romero.  Carolyn Campbell.  Rick Vaughan.  Tom Moulton.  Lisa Lovallo.  Sharon Bronsen.  Robert Shelton. Richard Elias. Jonathan Paton.  Judy Burns. Ann Day.  Rick Meyer.  Ron Shoopman.  John Pedicone.  Richard Fimbres.  Marie Nemerguth.  Ryan  George.  David Welsh.  Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. TREO.  Michael Keith.  Jennifer Eckstom.  Adelita Grijalva.  Mike Hein.  Jaret Barr.

25th May
2011
written by JHiggins

Tucson was once a mecca for films and television productions.  Over the past few years our neighbor’s over in New Mexico have done a great job of recruiting and retaining  movie/TV production companies. New Mexico under Gov. Richardson’s questionable leadership, put on the full court press to get the cameras rolling. The state of NM offered lucrative tax incentives to directly rebate production companies to do business in their state.  Other states have followed but NM seems to have got it right.

Arizona enacted their own $50m incentive but with a cumbersome process and some strings attached the production companies haven’t jumped on.  Maybe our state legislators can look at the structure and try to make it more attractive. The problem is an entire creative class of technical movie makers have watched prospects dry up here and moved elsewhere. It may be too late to get them back. The entertainment industry is one of those business that pays labor well and thrives in good economies and bad.

From the Tucson Weekly – April 19, 2001 – Read article HERE.

While the Tucson Film Office attempts to bring film production dollars back to the region–a task that is more difficult now than ever before–the media with their ebullience seem star-struck and provincial, an image that belies Tucson’s status as an almost-major footnote in the history of the motion picture industry.

That being said, it is hard to blame the media for such zealousness, as Arizona in general and Tucson in particular have always had a contradictory, if not ironic, relationship with the movie industry.

With the sun incessantly shining and the scenery transformed with every step-up in elevation, Arizona–especially Southern Arizona–is an ideal place to make movies…

Canada had already created the production service tax credit, a stroke of genius that offered foreign film and television production companies tax breaks on production labor expenses. The PSTC, coupled with further tax incentives offered in individual Canadian provinces, created a production-crew employment boom, and left a lot of film industry workers in California–not to mention workers in smaller, ancillary markets like Tucson–out of work.

Though the Tucson Film Office has been working hard to overcome runaway production, it may be a hopeless cause. A recent Director’s Guild of America study reported that in 1998 alone, the nationwide economic impact of runaway production had reached $10.3 billion, a five-fold increase since 1990.

With no studio, no sound stages, no government incentives, and a dwindling, disheartened crew base, it is hard to imagine how sunshine and scenery alone will bring the productions back to Tucson.

“Up until the fire (Old Tucson Studios) this community maintained a level of film production higher than most places,” Shelton said. “But when they rebuilt (Old Tucson) they didn’t rebuild the qualities and the things in the town that the film companies came here to film. They have made it pretty clear that their interest is primarily in tourism.”

And now our competitors over in Albquerque click HERE:

  • MOVIES
    MovieMaker magazine, a major trade publication in the film industry, cited Albuquerque as a “hot spot” in the United States for movie production. Here’s proof.
  • Did someone say snakes? It was announced that the fourth “Indiana Jones” film, tentatively called “Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods,” is to be filmed in the Deming area. Like the other movies in the series, it features Harrison Ford. Since 2003, the film industry has generated $1.4 billion in economic activity in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Film Office.
  • Seeing stars: Albuquerque Studios opened its $74 million motion picture and TV production studio at the city’s Mesa del Sol development. Set on 28 acres, it includes eight sound stages. Several films, including “The Spirit,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, and several TV shows, such as “Breaking Bad” and “In Plain Sight,” have used the studio.
  • And Sony announced it would bring part of its Sony Pictures Imageworks from California to Mesa del Sol in 2008. This means an initial 150 to 250 new jobs for the Duke City, likely with a few hundred more later.
  • Hollywood moves in at Budaghers: ÁTraditions!, the former outlet mall and marketplace on Interstate 25 between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, plans to become a movie studio. It will accommodate feature films, music videos and TV sitcoms and commercials.
  • From Inside Tucson Business (HERE) this summer,  Shellie Hall the director of Tucson Film Office has been trying to sell our community to the film industry.

    In the 2006-2007 fiscal year, Tucson had more than 400 days worth of film production, booked more than 11,000 nights of hotel rooms, and the equivalent of 7,650 days of work by local talent, according to Film Office Newsletter.

    “All without a single big budget, mega-watt, studio motion picture,” Hall said.

    While net numbers may be down a bit over previous efforts, Hall says her five-year comparison average still rings an impressive cash register.

    The average production this year was about $7 million.

    The Arizona Motion Picture Tax Incentive, approved by the Legislature and instituted three years ago, is a marketing tool intended to make filming in Arizona less taxing by returning 30 percent of expenditures to producers. The incentive started at 20 percent and was raised to 30 percent on expenditures in excess of $1 million. It has a cap of $50 million.

    “While we have tax credits and incentives, states like New Mexico (and Louisiana and Connecticut) have no cap at all on how much they will give as an inducement to film in their state, so they’re winning in the race to get the plum contracts,” Hall says. “We’re going back to our legislature to see if we can improve on our incentive package to be more competitive with New Mexico. We already have some competitive advantages with our neighboring state, particularly our close proximity to the Los Angeles film industry. We’re not asking for more money, just trying to make access to what we have easier. We can work within the mandated cap, we just need to change the way the current clunky and bureaucratic procedures are administered.”

    Despite costs continuing to increase and discretionary budgets continuing to shrink, Hall remains optimistic about the future of the film industry and the part the Tucson Film Office will play.

    “Even in the Depression, movies did well because people like the big screen and they need to escape,” she said.

    Lee Allen is a Tucson-based freelance writer.

    It’s encouraging that we do in fact have an office and an effort. It’s encouraging that the state legislature has given us some tools to be competitive.  It boils down to results and measuable increases in our regions film related revenues.  Getting the ball rolling may take some public and private sector support. Production companies will go to areas that are receptive, areas that are economically beneficial to their business models and where the support crews are in place and ready to work.  Like most of our economic issues in the region we have some ground work to lay before we see rusults.

    From Tucson Films latest newsletter:

    Some of the lows, well, those mostly have to do with the projects that got away…like a 3:10 to Yuma (the original shot here) or HAMLET 2 which claims to be Tucson in the film but was actually shot in Albuquerque (and we so wish it were the other way around).

    One loss, especially sad for the Tucson production community, is that the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) decided, after 5 years of holding their 10-day Producers Academy here, to move it to Santa Fe. The city of Tucson, the MTCVB, UA Media Arts & Hanson Film Institute, TFO and others did everything we could to keep them here, but New Mexico did more.

    From the Tucson Citizen regarding ‘Hamlet 2′ a low budget film that pokes fun at Tucson HERE :

    “I guess they thought about filming in Tucson, but it all came down to money, as it always does,” Kreinbrink says. “With all the incentives New Mexico offers compared to Arizona, it was a no-brainer.
    “I don’t think they even looked here for locations.”
    “‘Hamlet 2′ is a low-budget film that came in under the radar,” says Hall. “I didn’t hear anything about the project until it got to Sundance.
    “Arizona does have a tax incentive program, too, but it is more awkward to use, not as film-friendly as the one in New Mexico,” Hall says. “We are trying to get the state Legislature to make Arizona’s incentives more film-friendly. We’ve been working on it for three years. We’re preparing now to make another push in January.”
    While the wheels of government turn much slower than the reels in Hollywood, Tucson’s film industry is shrinking just as Albuquerque is turning into the Movieland of Enchantment.
    “If I was able to relocate, I would probably give moving to New Mexico some serious thought,” Ginn says. “There simply isn’t enough work here, and it does affect the quality of one’s life.”
    Hall confirms the brain and talent drain. “A lot of our Arizona work force is over there right now . . . working,” she says. “Their families are here, but they are over there.”
    From the actual movie Hamlet 2, pretty much sums up the Tucson film industry efforts:
    The camera pans right to a weathered city limits sign reading “Tucson” as a voice-over narrator solemnly pronounces this is the city “where dreams go to die.”Granted, Coogan’s schoolteacher character gets no respect from anybody. Because most of the cast members play his disgruntled students, maybe it is appropriate to keep taking pot shots at the city.
    But at the movie’s end, one of the so-called responsible adults in the cast tells the students to cheer up: “No matter where you go in life after this, it will always be better than Tucson.”
    Hamlet 2 cast
    As recent as April of this year the Star ran a story about a possiblilty of an investment in a soundstage HERE :
    Hall said a soundstage might be “overstepping” the demand for movies right now, but she supports it in the long run. The community media center is needed, though, she said, especially given Tucson’s large “indigenous” independent movie community.
    Moviemaking has been a boon for Albuquerque’s economy, said Ann Lerner, director of the Albuquerque Film Office.
    Lerner said the direct spending from the film business has exploded since 2004, jumping from $11 million in 2004 to $83 million last year.
    In contrast, spring-training baseball in Tucson generates an estimated $30 million in direct investment — an amount that a group of Tucson business leaders says justifies $9 million in new taxes a year to save.
    In Albuquerque, the movie industry also has boosted Downtown, said Brian Morris of Albuquerque’s Downtown Action Team, allowing the city to keep its young talent with high-paying jobs while also recruiting young professionals around the county who are looking for an urban living environment.
    Hein: A leader is needed
    City Manager Mike Hein said the idea of collaborating in tough fiscal times is always worth exploring. But he said the project needs a leader who can bring together Tucson’s fractious interests. The idea that there are multiple potential revenue sources makes it more feasible, Hein said.
    “If there are multiple parties with multiple pockets, it’s certainly easier to put together deals,” Hein said. “It all comes down to a business plan.”
    The economic impact in New Mexico reached over $1.2 billion in 2007. Read it HERE.
    The state’s Film Office frequently touts its achievements, which include helping attract more than 85 films and television projects to the state since 2003. Officials say the activity has added over $1.2 billion to New Mexico’s economy.
    Incentive programs include a 25 percent tax rebate on all film expenditures subject to taxation by the state, loans of up to $15 million per project, with back-end participation instead of interest, and no state sales tax (an option that can’t be used with the tax rebate).
    New Mexico’s programs are “clean, simple and directly accessible by productions themselves,” Witt said. “I think that’s key to going forward.”
    25th May
    2011
    written by JHiggins

    Inside Tucson Business is running a poll regarding the combination of TREO and the Tucson Chamber of Commerce. Is it time to stop duplicating of efforts? Are we better off with two distinctive groups with two distinctive objectives? Can the groups work together? Who has the best chance of success?  Take the POLL HERE

    23rd May
    2011
    written by Arizona Kid

    Vail Town Hall results highlight two preferences

    More than 300 people attending a Vail Town Hall on April 20 at Empire High School gave first preference to incorporation (57%) and second preference to an improvement district (44%) as options for possible future governance of the Vail area.

     Following presentations on the options of annexation, do nothing, incorporation, establishing an improvement district or community coordinating council, Greater Vail area residents were able to share their first and second preferences by placing a No. 1 or No. 2 on the various options. Annexation ranked the lowest in both preferences.

     The final results will be reviewed by the Vail Community Action Board for further consideration on what option to pursue, if any. If the board decides to pursue the preferred options, additional information on costs, requirements, timetable and other factors would be researched further for public consideration.

     The Greater Vail area includes Rincon Valley, Central Vail, the Wilmot/Kolb area, New Tucson, the Houghton Road corridor, Empire, Marsh Station, Corona de Tucson and the Southlands, all within the Vail School District. Town hall attendance was particularly strong from the Rincon Valley, Central Vail, Wilmot/Kolb, New Tucson and Houghton Corridor areas.

     The Vail Community Action Board opted to explore the various governance models to consider how the area may better address such things as improved access to services, transportation improvements or neighborhood safety in anticipation of continued growth.

    23rd May
    2011
    written by JHiggins

    The Arizona Republic

    Envision the Southwest Valley as the linchpin of a trade corridor reaching from a deep-water port in Mexico through the United States to Canada.

    Imagine a massive distribution operation where semi-trucks and freight trains loaded with goods from Asia and Mexico stop and then move on loaded with cargo.

    Think of thousands of jobs created in construction, warehousing, manufacturing and trucking.

    That’s the vision of the Southwest Valley’s part of the Canamex corridor, a trade route connecting Mexico, the United States and Canada. The Southwest Valley Rail Partnership discussed those issues earlier this month in Avondole.

    Planners acknowledge it would take years to make the plan a reality, but planning began in 1995.

    The route would begin at a potential deep-water port in Punta Colonet, Mexico, where goods from Asia would begin their journey to the Valley before being transformed or sorted and moved again.

    The Canamex Corridor Project is a joint project of Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Utah and Montana that seeks to make the route a reality.

    Marisa Walker, executive director of the Canamex Coalition, Arizona’s part of the project, said the potential economic opportunities are significant and things are happening.

    The Maricopa Association of Governments Executive Committee recently approved funding for a study to examine the costs of restoring the Wellton rail line, a Union Pacific track between Buckeye and Yuma that would be an essential freight component of the corridor.

    The Canamex route would consist of four-lane roads and would pretty much follow existing roadways and rail.

    In Arizona, the highway would follow:

    - Interstate 19 from Nogales to Tucson.

    - Interstate 10 from Tucson to Maricopa County.

    - The connection between I-10 in the Valley to U.S. 93 is uncertain.

    - But moving freight in the Southwest Valley to Wickenburg Road and then to Vulture Mine Road to the Wickenburg Bypass Southern Loop and then to U.S. 93 is the route favored by the Canamex Coalition.

    However, there is a competing corridor that doesn’t exist yet called Interstate 11 that would run through Buckeye east of Wickenburg Road.

    Michael Cronin is a member of the Can-Do Coalition made up of Arizona and Nevada government and business interests who support the new interstate.

    Cronin is also director of entitlements for El Dorado Holdings Inc., a co-owner of Douglas Ranch in Buckeye with JDM Partners. Jerry Colangelo is the J in JDM.

    Douglas Ranch is a 34,000-acre tract west of the White Tank Mountains that is planned as major housing development.

    Cronin said the coalition is seeking to build the new interstate using public-private partnerships, but there is still much work to be done before it can be approved by the federal government.

    Douglas Ranch would donate land to run Interstate 11 through its property, Cronin said.

    Buckeye likes that idea.

    “We are really supporting I-11. We really want it to happen,” said Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck.

    Walker said that now, about half the freight that comes through the Valley on rail simply moves on without stopping. And too many truck containers come through the Valley, which is a huge consumer market, and then leave empty.

    The challenge is giving freight a reason to stop, Walker said.

    “So I think one of the vital questions for us is: that’s a real missed opportunity, so what can we do? What kind of economic development can we generate to put stuff back in those containers?” she asked.

    “The products that are coming, we need to figure out: do they lend themselves to manufacturing . . . or better distribution?”

    For example, many agricultural products move from Mexico into the U.S. A facility that converted Mexican tomatoes into tomato paste, which was then packaged and distributed would be an opportunity to add value to freight moving through the area, she said.

    That could translate into economic opportunity through manufacturing and distribution jobs that would boost the Southwest Valley economy.

    “Part of it is that there will be jobs associated with it at the front end, with the construction and the development of facilities,” Walker said. “There are obviously jobs here associated with moving cargo around.”

    The Canamex Coalition doesn’t know how many jobs would be created.

    Meck said the economic potential for Buckeye from the Canamex corridor is enormous.

    The initial building blocks are already in place, he said, noting that the Union Pacific Railroad owns 400 acres and a 2-mile rail corridor in Buckeye. He said the railroad is planning to expand its operations there.

    He said Buckeye also has 300,000 acres available to produce solar energy.

    “Obviously, something like this that could come to the Buckeye area and break down freight and create jobs and move from there to Phoenix or LA or wherever, that would be great,” Meck said.
    Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/swvalley/articles/2011/05/16/20110516canamex-corridor-southwest-valley-economy.html#ixzz1NDbYzFye

    22nd May
    2011
    written by Arizona Kid

    From The Powerline: I wish reporters would pay as much attention to a more important failed prediction: the Obama administration’s assurance that its policies, including the “stimulus,” would foster job creation and prevent unemployment from reaching 8 percent. We have reproduced this graphic before:

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