Countdown to lift-off

[quote]By Ramon Valadez Pima County Supervisor District 2[/quote]

Few communities in the country were hit as hard as Pima County in the Great Recession a few years ago. Not so much by the number of people who ended up out of work here, but in how long it has taken us to get the jobs back that we lost.

While most communities in the country have regained all of the jobs they lost in the recession, or more, we’ve only regained about 70 percent. State university economic experts say that’s because a lot of our economy is tied to federal spending – Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, for instance – and the federal government has curtailed its military and other spending since the recession.

That’s why I’ve been working hard for the past four years to diversify and grow our economy. Last week, the Board of Supervisors approved an incentive package for a fast-growing local business that will go a long way toward meeting our economic development goals.

World View is a commercial balloon spaceflight company that was strongly courted by Florida and New Mexico. Those states wanted to add the innovative company to their existing spaceports and space-related industries.

But Pima County stepped up and put together a package that will not only help this company grow and grow quickly, but that will potentially serve as a magnet to similar aerospace companies.

It is expected that the company will add over 400 jobs in five years, with an average salary of $55,000.
But there’s more to this deal than the win-win. World View will be the first tenant in the county’s new Aerospace, defense and Technology Business and Research Park, which is part of the Sonoran Corridor.

The Sonoran Corridor is expected to fundamentally transform our economy. An economic analysis of the corridor estimates that at build out, it will add more than 200,000 jobs to our region and have an annual economic impact of $32 billion.

Word View is just the start. I hope and expect we will be announcing a lot of new businesses growing or relocating here over the next year.

Pima County is on the economic development launchpad and the countdown to liftoff has begun.