Bringing business and jobs to Southern AZ

KGUN 9 Tucson News
KGUN 9 Tucson News

Tuesday, Maricopa County is showing President Biden a new semiconductor plant there but Pima County has its own aggressive efforts to bring tech employers here.

Raytheon is a tech giant that has been growing here for decades but many other companies involved with electronics, aerospace and medical technology have decided Southern Arizona is a great place to build their businesses.

The latest prospect is the American Battery Factory . Pima County Supervisors are considering an incentive package to place the plant near Raytheon. The operation is projected to add a thousand jobs and $3.1 billion to the local economy over ten years.

Heath Vescovi-Chiordi, Pima County’s Economic Development Director says building essential systems like roads, water, wastewater and data connections helps attract businesses, and so does the county’s ability to make land available.

“Pima County-owned land is actually quite cheap, comparatively. So privately held land is quite expensive compared to what we have," said Vescovi-Chiordi. "So that I think is one of the major areas where we are competitive is, effectively, those larger organizations need significant amounts of land, whether it's 50, which is actually perceptively small, up to 1000, which is some of the things that we've seen come through cheapness of land at the cost of land actually helps drive them at lot.”

A workforce ready to handle technical tasks is another powerful draw. That’s where Pima Community College and Pima JTED come in.

Elena Chanes is on a path towards becoming a chemical engineer with additional training in electrical and mechanical engineering.

“We learned how to program robots, electrical currents, machining, so like we have our welding. We also learned how to use tools correctly, so we know how to do rivets. We also got OSHA certified so we know how to be safe in the workspace,” Chanes said.

Jafec Villagomez says with training he’s getting at JTED, he’ll be ready for new industry like that battery plant.

“That does sound like an opportunity down the road right now, because of all the stuff that we're doing right now with electricity, we'd be able to do it.”

Bringing businesses here is really a team effort that includes individual cities and the organization Sun Corridor, which has its main mission as finding and building new business for the area.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9 . With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter .

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