All of Southern Arizona needs energized downtown to attract quality jobs

BY: Kevin Madden, Guest Columnist
February 18, 2013

Kevin Madden downtown Tucson
CEO, Madden Media: “Downtown is on the cusp of finally happening.”

The recent article in the Star regarding Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities and Tucson’s history of economic development efforts reminds us that economic development has been and should continue to be a community priority. Creating new quality jobs is paramount to our future.

Tucson’s median household income is roughly $45,000, well below other competitive cities.

With nearly a million people in the Tucson basin and a first-rate research university, plus many other assets, such as biotech, science, great climate, affordable real estate, et cetera, we as a community can do better.

We need to support the efforts of TREO and other municipal- ities’ economic development efforts.

I agree with the assertion in the book “The Coming Jobs War” by Jim Clifton that the single most important thing politicians and leaders can do to boost economic development is to support and encourage the burgeoning rebirth of their region’s downtown.

After decades of failed attempts, our downtown is on the cusp of finally happening.

There are dozens of new businesses and entertainment venues that have sprung up in the past couple of years. New housing units are coming out of the ground. As people start to live downtown again, more businesses will open – bringing more life and activity downtown.

There is nothing more important to economic development for our entire region than a vibrant and energized downtown. A place for everyone to be proud. A place that all walks of life will want to frequent and support.

Like it or not, whether you live in the Foothills, Oro Valley or Vail – our community, your community, is judged by out-of-towners based on the state of our downtown.

A vibrant downtown will boost economic development all across the region. Marana, Vail, Oro Valley and Sahuarita will all benefit from a better, more vibrant downtown. A vibrant downtown will help to keep young talent from leaving. It will help recruit and retain young professionals who want to live and work here. It will help reinvigorate our image to the world and showcase our unique appeal as a tourism and convention destination.

The city and Rio Nuevo have resolved their issues, and the newly reconstituted Rio Nuevo board is committed to follow through with its mission of improving the Convention Center and getting a convention hotel in downtown.

Now our leaders need to encourage and support private development downtown.

A vibrant downtown is the single most important economic development activity anyone can do for Tucson and Southern Arizona, and it gives additional ammunition for TREO to market our region as the place where businesses want to locate.

Kevin Madden is CEO of Madden Media, a downtown business.

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