An economic impact study of the Sonoran Corridor commissioned by Pima County shows the effort to expand and diversify the local economy could add more than 180,000 jobs and billions of dollars a year to the region once the 51,500 acres is built out over several decades.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry released the analysis by Phoenix-based Applied Economics Oct. 8. The company reviewed the county’s draft master plan for the Sonoran Corridor and economic data from the corridor over the past three years to develop its projections of economic impact and revenue generation at build out of the economic development zone.
The Sonoran Corridor is a major initiative of the County’s Economic Development Plan. It seeks to develop the area surrounding Tucson International Airport and Raytheon into a high-tech manufacturing and research and development corridor, as well as one of the largest international logistics hubs in the Southwest given the advantageous location.
The foundation for such economic development is already there through existing employers such as Raytheon, Bombardier, Port of Tucson, TIA, Target.Com, the University of Arizona’s Tech Park, and the new HomeGoods Distribution Center currently under construction. The county’s plan seeks to build on that foundation with improved transportation and utility infrastructure and other initiatives that will allow existing employers to expand while drawing new businesses and industries, most with high-wage employment, to the area.
The initiative is a regional effort and involves the federal government, the Department of Defense, the state, the city of Tucson, the town of Sahuarita, the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Tucson Airport Authority, the University of Arizona, the Pima Association of Governments, the region’s utilities and the area’s major employers, including Raytheon and Union Pacific railroad. Much of this area was already annexed by the city of Tucson.
In a memorandum to the Board of Supervisors about the economic study, Huckelberry called the Sonoran Corridor, “the single largest economic development initiative undertaken in the last 50 years within Pima County.”
“Its importance in creating future job growth designed to attract export-based employers and facilitate national and international trade through logistics will be a foundation for continued and sustained economic expansion with the region,” he wrote to the board.
Among the study’s findings:
The Sonoran Corridor could create an annual economic impact of $32.2 billion and support close to 203,000 jobs.
The Corridor could directly add 104,000 new jobs, and indirectly add 85,000 new jobs.
Construction in the corridor of the new businesses and infrastructure could have an impact of $36.9 billion and generate about 307,000 construction-related jobs.
The Corridor at build-out could generate nearly $9 billion in annual worker income, which could result in about $7.6 billion in annual consumer demand.
The Corridor could generate about $1.4 billion in annual tax revenue at build-out and about $354 million in one-time sales taxes over the build-out period.
The county has already completed several action items for the Sonoran Corridor as part of the Economic Development Plan. It acquired the necessary right of way and is nearing completion of a regionally funded 4.6-mile relocation of Hughes Access Road one-half mile to the south. The county is collaborating with the city of Tucson and the Tucson Airport Authority to acquire airport land south of Raytheon to give the defense contractor the relief from encroachment it needs for current operations and to create the necessary buffer Raytheon would need for future expansion. The relocation of the road, now called Aerospace Parkway, also created room for the creation of a major aerospace and high-tech research and manufacturing park along the parkway. Master planning of that park, as well as the entire corridor is ongoing.
Funding for extending the Sonoran Corridor from the parkway east to Interstate 10 is before county voters as part of the Pima County bond election currently underway.