One city is nestled in Arizona’s northern region, the other in the south, but both Flagstaff and Tucson are experiencing economic expansion, innovation and growth in several markets, including aviation and autonomous vehicles. Here are the recent economic development wins from Tucson and Flagstaff.
Tucson economic wins
As 2022 comes to a close, Tucson has much positivity to tout when it comes to traction in economic development. As recently as October 2022, the city celebrated the opening of TuSimple’s expanded facility that created 75 new jobs in the autonomous trucking industry. The new 35,000-square-foot addition provides additional research lab and office space for the company.
“The City of Tucson’s mayor and city council authorized a Primary Jobs Incentive in 2021 for this $9 million business expansion project for the addition of jobs with average salaries in excess of $80,000,” says Barbra Coffee, economic initiatives director for City of Tucson.
Tucson also welcomed Pony.ai in October, as it began plans to start testing autonomous vehicles in the city. The Bay Area technology company will base operations at Pima Community College’s Automotive Technology & Innovation Center and begin testing the robotaxis with safety drivers on board.
Earlier in the year, according to Coffee, SkyWest Airlines was approved for their expansion at Tucson International Airport, also as part of the Primary Jobs Incentive. The company plans to construct a new 200,000-square-foot hangar to expand their maintenance and repair operations adding 50 new jobs.
And, in continuation of Tucson’s aviation economic development wins, Pima Community College recently celebrated the opening of the expanded Aviation Tech Center — a $15 million project that allows the college to double the number of graduates from the program in order to continue to support the growth of Tucson’s aviation industry sector in Tucson.
Flagstaff economic wins
Flagstaff boasts a highly educated workforce, access to two major highways and airport and a supportive economic development staff, which has in turn attracted significant economic development. Of its more recent arrivals, UACJ Whitehall Industries, a global leader in automotive manufacturing, chose Flagstaff for the aforementioned reasons and happens to be the largest new business to locate to the city in the last five decades.
“Whitehall is a welcomed new addition to our expanding manufacturing sector,” says Jack Fitchett, business attraction manager for City of Flagstaff.
Whitehall plans to bring upwards of $60 million dollars in capital investment and 350 jobs to Flagstaff over the next three years.
“To complement this growth in the Flagstaff manufacturing sector, the largest city owned parcel is about to undergo a master development process,” Fitchett says. “This 31.45-acre parcel located adjacent to the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport will be the birthplace of over 750,000 square feet of new research and development, manufacturing and hospitality space.”
The City has been working with a local development firm, Genterra Enterprises, LLC, to transform the parcel into a state of the art technology park. According to Fitchett, the development will provide highly desired space that will be used to continue to attract more like-businesses to the region.
In addition to its technology-market additions, Flagstaff is also seeing activity in the healthcare sector.
“Northern Arizona Healthcare (NAH) is currently working through the city’s development process to activate 180 acres of land,” Fitchett says. “The development will be centered around NAH’s new state of the art hospital. Additionally, the acreage will serve to create space to further expand Flagstaff’s immense biomedical and healthcare sectors and will create thousands of new jobs.”