Posts Tagged ‘Joe Snell’
The Inside Tucson Business has been running a great series of stories picked from the last 20 years of the Tucson area’s business stories. The sad thing is the lack of true change. Development Services, headed by longtime bureaucrat, Ernie Duarte, is still a roadblock to many a small business owner in Tucson. Go to talk to CeeDee’s Jamaican Kitchen(just opened a few months ago) on Speedway and Swan about the hell they dragged him through. It took him about 18-20 months to open a restaurant that was previously a restaurant!
You take this department’s pathetic track record and combine with things like extortion payouts to Skrappy’s and $5,000 Temporary Revocable Easement application fees for signs and you really did earn the Arizona Small Business Survey’s(2008, link) ranking as Arizona’s unfriendliest municipality to operate a business in.
” City working to streamline development review process. In response to the development community, the city of Tucson is revamping its Development Services Department.
June 28, 1999
“This move brings the city’s review process to the next level,” said City Manager Luis Guitierrez. “It’ll bring substantial efficiency, customer service and predictability to plan reviews.”
The Development Review Center was first conceived in the mid-1980s as a way to bring together all reviewers from the various departments involved, (such as solid waste, water, fire, planning and engineering) into a single facility. Before that, anyone applying for a building permit would have to go from building to building and to the various departments to have a plan reviewed.
Now: The City’s development services department has long been scrutinized by the business community. This move was helpful to speed things along, but it remains an issue with the development community.”
Memo to City Council: Fix the basics out there to help the small biz owner and then stay out the way. Screwing the true base of your economy(they employ most of the citizens) while thowing money to the glory-hogging wimps over at TREO is helping to steer your city into the toilet.
I know having martinis with Snell, Welsh and now Guymon is a little more glamorous, but roll up your sleeves and actually make it happen for small business. You’ll be glad you did.
TREO hires MPA’s executive director
“Effective Nov. 15, Metropolitan Pima Alliance Executive Director Michael Guymon is leaving to become Vice-President for Regional Development for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO).
Guymon has been MPA’s executive director since Sept. 2008, having served as the organization’s first Governmental Relations Director. His career experience includes both the public and private sectors as former Chief-of-Staff to Tucson City Council Member Fred Ronstadt and political consultant to a number of downtown area development projects.
The MPA Board of Directors will be responsible for hiring a new executive director.”
While TREO has lots of different issues(taking credit for work they didn’t do, for one of them), their biggest problem is being content selling a broken region. Yes, I know that the City and County still give them a big hunk of taxpayer dough. Yes, I know that Mayor McCheese and Sharon Bronson sit on their board. TREO’s lack of courage in telling these folks that they have an “ugly baby” is part of the reason that Tucson is slowly becoming an economic Katrina. When Raytheon picked Alabama over Tucson, TREO didn’t even bother to tell their board member, former Raytheon engineer and head cheerleader in chief, Mayor Bob.
The geniuses at TREO got together and said: “Let’s hire a Governmental Relations Director!”. It’s a good idea, but needs to have an independent guy/gal, with some guts to tell the truth on how to fix Tucson/Pima County for business. Especially small business.
1) The man who is a paid consultant for Garfield Traub to help shove the Downtown Hotel down the taxpayer’s throat.
From the Arizona Daily Star (Rob O’Dell, March 30th 2010)
“Among those expected to have some say in whether the hotel will be built:
The former City Council aide was a paid lobbyist for the company when it was trying to win the hotel bid and after it was selected.
He later became executive director at the Metropolitan Pima Alliance, whose members include businesses, developers and governments. The organization, which calls itself, “your voice for reasonable and responsible development,” is expected to make a recommendation on whether the hotel should be built.
Guymon said he disclosed his relationship with Garfield Traub before he took the job and says his contract is basically completed, although he said he will still earn a bonus if the hotel is approved.”
2) The man who sits on Museum of Contempory Arts board, which magically received a $1/year rent at the Fire Station #1 on Church street.
“The purpose of the press conference was to expose a sweetheart deal between the City Council and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), in which MOCA was given a five-year lease of the old Fire Station One for only $1-a-year. This is a facility worth millions of dollars and will require yearly maintenance costs in the six figures and more than $80,000 in upgrades.”
(check the previous post on the deal: http://tucsongrowup.com/2009/10/)
No doubt Guyman’s insider connections at the City of Tucson will help ensure funding and relationships remain in tact. Over at the County, Guyman doesn’t have the juice. He’s not from the Grijalva or Eckstrom camps so it’s going to be tough. In Oro Valley and Marana, if they are smart, they’ll tell the Tucson centric TREO to hang out on the sideline and bring out the water bottles during the time outs.
Great move TREO, kudos to your organization on remaining the ineffective organization that you’ve evolved into. Give Joe Snell a raise while you’re at it.
By Janet Perez
Like the rest of the state, Southern Arizona has been in a recession since 2007, and at least one prominent economist says the situation won’t be getting better anytime soon.
“My forecast is that it’s going to take a while to get (credit markets) straightened out again and functioning as they should,” says Marshall Vest, director of the Economic and Business Research Center at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. “I think that takes up most of 2009. Then we have all the excess housing that needs to be absorbed. That’s going to take some time and we’re not really absorbing the housing right now because credit markets have been essentially frozen. So, I think it’s the end of 2009 before the economy really regains its footing. I think we’ll start to move up in 2010. By move up, I mean the economy will once again begin to expand and enter a recovery phase.”
Joe Snell, president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities (TREO), says that despite the already deteriorating economic conditions, Tucson still managed to draw new companies and expansions in 2008.
“We’re definitely seeing a slow down in a lot of ways, both in the recruitment of companies and the expansion of companies, but not a massive downtick,” he says. “Our pipeline is as full as it’s ever been. But what we are seeing are companies that may have been ready to announce a $100 million expansion in November saying, ‘We’re going to wait on that until January, we’re cautious, we want to see what’s going to happen in the next three months.’ ”
Last year, the region still saw growth in the health care, bioscience, alternative energy and aerospace industries. Of particular note was the purchase of Ventana Medical Systems in Oro Valley by Swiss drug maker Roche for $3.4 billion. Roche also announced plans for a $100 million expansion at Ventana that would increase employment from 750 to about 1,000. In addition, Roche purchased more than 17 acres of land around the Ventana site to expand the location.
“Possibly the most significant thing we can point to though, is that 57 percent of the successful projects were in our targeted industries, and that’s important because those targeted industries represent quality rather than quantity, meaning, closing the wage gap,” Snell says. “Historically, Tucson has ranked somewhat below both the state and the national average in wages. So we’re rapidly moving in the right direction to close that gap. To me, that’s a big takeaway.”
Southern Arizona has not been immune to the effects of the housing market collapse and its devastating impact on the construction industry. For example, one of the first companies TREO recruited, window and doormaker Pella Corp., announced in November 2008 that it was idling its Tucson plant, affecting 65 workers. When Pella first located to Tucson in 2005, company officials said it had plans to employ more than 400 people at its facility.
Still, as Vest points out, since the construction boom was not as great in Southern Arizona as it was in the Phoenix area, the drop has been less precipitous. For example, year-over-year job losses in the construction industry in October 2008 stood at 4,000 in the Tucson metro area, according to figures from the Arizona Department of Commerce. In the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa area, 30,000 construction industry jobs were lost during the same period.
“Commercial (construction) is still in relatively good shape. Vacancy rates are moving up, but they are still fairly low. Tucson didn’t see the construction boom in commercial that you saw in Phoenix, so, commercial construction here in Tucson doesn’t have as far to fall,” Vest says. “For residential, the indicators that I see are pretty comparable to Phoenix, except for the housing price data. I don’t think the declines have been quite as large (in Southern Arizona).”
Snell says that so far, Southern Arizona has managed to hold its own on employment.
“We have losses in construction, but we’re gaining it on biotech, we’re gaining it on solar, we’re gaining it in logistics companies. I think right now we’re sort of a wash,” he says.
Vest, however, expects more job losses across the state as the recession drags on through 2009. In fact, comparisons of unemployment rates from 2007 and 2008 already are startlingly eye opening.
In October 2008, the unemployment rate for the state, the Phoenix metro and the Tucson metro stood at 6.1 percent, 5.5 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively. In October 2007, the state’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, Phoenix’s was at 3.4 percent, and Tucson came in at 3.9 percent.
“I think the unemployment rate will likely reach 8 percent before we’re through,” Vest says.
Vest adds that rate is in line with the jobless figures of the last major recession of the early 1980s. Back then, unemployment peaked at 13 percent in the state, 8.9 percent in Phoenix and 10.5 percent in Tucson.
Fortunately for Southern Arizona, Vest says, the region’s economy is considerably more diverse than it was in the early ’80s. But with credit still tight and the housing market stuck in freefall, Vest cautions about being too optimistic on the strength of a recovery.
“I really think this recovery is probably going to be muted. I don’t see us rebounding very strongly. The process is going to take awhile,” he says. “This recession is going to be longer than the recessions of the early ’80s or mid ’70s. If it stretches through 2009 and the recession began in the fourth quarter of 2007, we’re talking about a two-year-long recession. Nationwide, the longest recession has been 16 months.
“It’s been a very long time in this country since we have encountered a very severe recession. The recessions of 2001 and 1991 were both very short and shallow. They barely qualified as recessions, rather than a growth slowdown. It’s only the gray hairs that remember what a severe recession is like,” Vest adds. “This is scary. This is messy. But we’ve been through this before. If you are a business and you can hang on and remain solvent and get through this, there will be plenty of opportunities on the other side. I would also say that it’s during times like this that the seeds are sown for fortunes to be made. Savvy investors will take positions in markets where assets are cheap and will benefit handsomely as the economy recovers —as surely it will. And the deep pockets know that and there is a lot of money on the sidelines waiting for the right opportunity.”
Snell agrees, adding that now is the time for Southern Arizona to stake a claim in future growth and prosperity.
“We’re not going to ride out the recession. I’m a big believer that now is the time to get aggressive,” he says. “I think we have a good head of steam. At this point, I would say Tucson is as competitive as any major city in the country, including Phoenix. That’s a first for us. Are we going to get cooled off by the national economy? Yes, absolutely. But I think we’re in as good a position as anyone coming out of this recession to capitalize, and maybe within this recession to capitalize.”
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