Here’s how the innovative Southern Arizona economy is thriving | Tech Parks Arizona
   The University of Arizona

Here’s how the innovative Southern Arizona economy is thriving


The Wandering Albatross has one of the largest recorded wingspans of living birds, ranging on average from 8.2 feet to 11.5 feet. With such a wing extension, the Wandering Albatross not only covers a lot of ground but can also remain in flight much longer than most other flighted birds. Organizations such as Sun Corridor and Arizona Association For Economic Development (AAED) alongside various city and state leaders are much like the Wandering Albatross, serving as Southern Arizona’s proverbial wings — expanding economic reach, dollars and regional cooperation. 

While manufacturing and distribution remain constant in economic development and financial wealth for the Southern region, aviation stands as an equally strong economic driver. In February, SkyWest Airlines announced its plans to relocate and construct a new aircraft maintenance hangar at the Tucson International Airport (TUS). In addition to supplying ample employment opportunities, the total capital investment of the SkyWest facility is an estimated $41 million (over the next five years), resulting in a total economic impact of $105 million.

SkyWest’s maintenance hangar will be part of a well-established, ever-growing Airport Employment Zone, which, according to Sun Corridor, “supports more than 43,000 jobs,” and includes nationally-recognized companies such as Raytheon Missile Systems, Bombardier, Ascent Aviation, FedEx, HomeGoods and Universal Avionics (among others).

Let’s not forget too, that in addition to serving as an economic engine, TUS is part of Southern Arizona’s well-defined, burgeoning transportation infrastructure. Supplementing commercial aviation, are a host of earthbound transportation projects underway and slated for the future.

“The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has completed several projects, adding new travel lanes to accommodate growth in the region, as well as providing new and wider sidewalks, more signalized crosswalks, improved bicycle lanes and enhanced landscaping,” Coffee explains. “These projects have also provided safety features such as bus pullouts, drainage improvements and managed access to businesses.”

Coffee further notes that the Sonoran Corridor, currently in planning with ADOT, Pima County, and the City of Tucson, will create a continuous, access-controlled transportation corridor between I-19 and I-10. “This will improve access to the University of Arizona Tech Park, Tucson International Airport, Raytheon and numerous other industrial sites currently under development,” she says.

These developments, Coffee relays, will ultimately “improve regional mobility and connectivity, while also addressing existing and future population and economic growth.”

Read the full AZ Big Media article by Erin Thorburn

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