Words from Jonathan Rothschild, Mayor of Tucson
May 2, 2017
Mayor of Tucson
Tucson’s business incentives — the GPLET, Primary Jobs and Global Economic Development District incentives — have helped employers large and small locate and expand in Tucson, bringing thousands of jobs and billions in economic benefit to the region.
Raytheon is investing $233 million in buildings and infrastructure and creating 1,900 jobs over five years — jobs that pay, on average, $110,000 a year. This is Raytheon’s largest expansion in Tucson in decades, and city incentives helped make it happen.
- Other new employers benefiting from city incentives include:
- Comcast, with a bilingual customer support center and 1,125 jobs in its first year
- HomeGoods, with a distribution center serving the Western United States and 900 jobs over 15 years
- Caterpillar, with a regional headquarters and 600 jobs over five years
- WorldView, with a corporate headquarters, manufacturing plant and spaceport and 448 jobs over five years
Smaller employers have also used city incentives for everything from turning a closed auto repair shop into office space, to redeveloping a closed TUSD school into a transitional care facility.
We continue to focus on opportunities with Mexico, Arizona’s number one trading partner. After a trade mission I led last year, former Mexican president Vicente Fox visited Tucson and we signed an agreement to bring Mexican businesses to Tucson for an intensive incubation process with Startup Tucson’s Thryve Latin America program.
Two new hotels are underway — an AC Hotel by Marriott downtown and a Residence Inn by Marriott near the University of Arizona.
We are pleased to be getting the additional rooms, as Metro Tucson’s lodging revenue grew 12 percent last year. Our designation as the only city in the United States to be a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy helped dramatically increase travel media coverage for our region.
- Tucson continues to make “best of” lists of travel destinations for our food and quality of life including:
- Number 7 in Best Weekend Getaways, U.S. News and World Report
- Best Under the Radar Food City in the USA, Wine Enthusiast
- Best Winter Trips 2017, “Tucson, Arizona: For the Food,” National Geographic
- Number 7 in Top Destinations on the Rise — United States: Tucson, Arizona, TripAdvisor 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards.
The city has been working to accommodate exciting new projects, moving ahead with amendments or rezonings for a new medical tower, a new commercial center, new mixed-use developments, a new transitional care facility and a new Pima Medical Institute campus.
We worked with the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce on several initiatives last year, including creating an Adaptive Reuse Pilot Program to help develop older buildings into new, viable businesses.
Improvements we were able to make to the Tucson Convention Center helped bring in the Tucson Roadrunners AHL team — and earned praise from its head coach for the quality of the facility and the ice.
The city has been working on improving our roads, through the Regional Transportation Authority and through Proposition 409, the city’s 2012 street bonds. Proposition 409 funding expires this year, so in May, we will hold a special election to increase city sales tax by a half percent, to 2.5 percent, for five years. If passed, an estimated $100 million would go toward roads, with $150 million going toward public safety vehicles, facilities and equipment.
As we did with the 2012 street bonds, we have put out a list of what arterial streets we would fix and when, with a citizens oversight commission selecting the residential streets. We have also put out a list of what public safety vehicles, facilities and equipment would be replaced or repaired.
Increasing the city’s sales tax to 2.5 percent would bring us to the median for the state. Not many people realize that Tucson has some of the lowest sales tax rates in the state. We do not have a residential rental tax. We do not have a sales tax on groceries. In Arizona, just nine cities and towns have lower retail sales tax rates than we do, and all of them charge residential rental tax, and all but two charge sales tax on groceries.
Our approach to roads, and many other things, is not to wait for others to help us. In Tucson, we look to each other, to the resources we have, and then we roll up our sleeves and get to work.