Monday, November 24, 2008

Environmentalists, developers on same team in planning future

[Source: Joe Snell, Special to the Arizona Daily Star] - A visually attractive, highly functioning community is an important competitive advantage in economic development. Unfortunately, Tucson's development history is often marred by perceptions that progress is slow.
The key to overcoming these perceptions and improving the region's development processes is community agreement on which areas to develop and which areas to preserve.

We must act now so opportunities do not pass us by. Coordinated planning and responsible stewardship of the region's land resources are important to balancing growth with environmental objectives.

Often land developers and environmentalists are seen as opponents in land use planning. But what we all need to realize is that we are on the same team in planning for the future of our community. We must act as a metropolitan community and realize that we are stronger together than the sum of our parts.

Labor drives economic development, and it is increasingly in short supply. Talent today values a community with beauty, recreational opportunities, an adequate transportation system, sustainable principles and sound environmental practices.

If we can agree on where to grow and what to preserve, then we can attract and retain the jobs and talent we all want for ourselves and future generations.

An emerging example of where to grow — and how — lies in packaging our regional assets in a way that is attractive to potential regional employers. For example, the biosciences industry, anchored by companies like Ventana Medical Systems and Sanofi Aventis, and supporting regional assets like C-Path and BIO5, can be marketed together as a bioscience corridor.

Another example is our 150-plus strong transportation and logistics providers who care deeply about where they operate and how they market themselves to take advantage of billions of dollars of freight that come across our rail lines each year.

TREO's Economic Blueprint has identified 10 quality growth zones in the Tucson region that are important areas for commercial and industrial activity. These areas are targeted for master planning and strategic investment.

Successful development of commercial and industrial employment and investment in these zones is critical in attracting and creating high-wage jobs for our residents. For maps of these areas, go to online.

In order to compete in the global economy, a community must have it all – the work force to attract and retain business, and the community assets and jobs that attract that work force.

TREO's regional approach to development involves a strategic focus on four targeted industries that will increase the number of high-skilled and high-wage jobs in our region:

● Aerospace and defense (top 5 region in the United States).
● Bioscience (regional assets are growing, state strategy is strong).
● Solar (an emerging industry and a natural fit).
● Transportation and logistics (building on an already strategic location).

As we begin to attract these kinds of companies and jobs to our region, we must all work together to ensure that we grow strategically in a way that preserves our natural landscape while utilizing the developable land.

You vote in elections once a year. But when you engage in community issues, you are voting every day about the community you want to live in.
Don't miss this chance to cast your ballot for the future of the region by participating in "A Community Conversation on Regional Land Use" on Dec. 3.

Contact Joe Snell at

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