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Posts Tagged ‘Sara Smallhouse’

6th May
written by JHiggins

Folks, when it comes to economic development, options in southern Arizona we are somewhat limited. Let’s face it, we aren’t in the running for the next Intel or Boeing.  We probably aren’t on the short list for a lot of jobs that require educated and skilled labor.

Why do you think TREO’s predecessor, GTEC, did such a great job with low skilled, low paying call center jobs?

What happened to us you ask?

Leadership Failures
We are running out of options because the past generations of business and elected leaders failed to act. We are at this spot today because they failed to plan, failed to put aside self interests, failed to look beyond the next election cycle.

Transportation Failures
We missed the boat on our transportation system (we shot down the RTA 5 times). Phoenix passed their RTA program 20 years ahead of us and have been spending $300m per year on infrastructure.

Education Failures
We have an out of control TUSD school district that resists reforms and has major admin issues. Parents are flocking away from their product because they aren’t a quality operation.

Too Many Service and Government Sector Employees
Southern Arizona has way to many service and government sector employees. We lack industries that make things, build and ship things (Raytheon is an exception but with 11,000 employees our of 1m population it’s not enough).  One service sector employee goes out and shops at another service sector business and the cycle continues. Add in the stress of maintaining a bloated government sector (our single largest employer class) and a couple construction booms and busts and you can see how it all happened.

Political Failures
The people elect candidates that promise greater perks and end up making promises they don’t keep. The neighborhoods are given all the power to stop any type of progress or vision.

Environmental Opposition
Mining, which has been an income generator in Arizona for generations, faces opposition at every turn.

Killing The Golden Goose
Tourism is probably our only real sustainable industry that brings in FRESH money. What are we doing to our golden goose? We are taxing their industry right out of town. What are we doing with the increased bed taxes?  How about a cool $900k in the form of a pass through to Tucson/Pima Arts Council.

Completely Ineffective Business Leadership
Go and check out the chart

Now that I set the stage…… a potential game changer:

INLAND PORT! – check out Carli Brosseau’s story in today’s Tucson Citizen. HERE.

Key components of TREO’s plan involve building an I-10 bypass, setting up a larger rail yard near Marana and improving infrastructure connecting Tucson to the seaport of Guaymas, Mexico.

The report also recommends the development of food processing plants because of the tons of Mexican agricultural products shipped daily through the city.

Most of the related development is anticipated along Valencia Road.

Smallhouse said the project is realistic despite the recession and should be the domain of business owners, not government.

The inland port is the low hanging fruit, the call centers of our generation.

We are in the right place at the right time to really change the course of Southern Arizona.  This port concept could create high paying jobs. It will spin off small businesses and light manufacturing.

The port could truly be a game changer.  I’ve studied it, met with TREO, done the background, met many of the players and I got to tell you it’s one of the most exciting things I things our region has.

What’s a little concerning is that when I speak to elected officials very few understand the full impact and need for immediate and sustained action to see this opportunity become a reality.  Our business and elected leaders are busy with bus fares and rental taxes or park fees. Who’s watching out for our future?

I tell you what, if we make this too complicated or put up too many road blocks the industry will find greener pastures.

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