Joe Snell, TREO's president and chief executive officer, shared "five things we must consider for the future" at the economic development organization's Friday luncheon.
#1 – Healthy communities grow.
"There is no status quo with communities," Snell said. "They are growing, stagnating or declining. It's important to recognize we need growth."
A company such as Raytheon, with 12,500 employees and $3 billion in annual regional effect, supports "tons of vendors and suppliers" and boosts communities such as Marana and Oro Valley, he said.
"We need to understand how the economy works," Snell said. "The recession has clarified things." One of them – Tucson must support "primary industries that give the greatest returns for our future."
Fletcher McCusker of the TREO board put it another way.
"What's good for Marana is good for Tucson," McCusker said. "A revitalized downtown is going to help recruit people to Oro Valley."
#2 – Perception matters.
"This is a wonderful community," Snell said. "We've got our challenges, but no more than any other community." Yet Tucson tends "to hang our dirty laundry out for everyone to see. We're not the only ones watching."
#3 – Mountains don't sell.
"We've got to be competitive," Snell said. "Quality of life alone won't sell this place to a major investor. … They look at other competitive factors. Yes, that means incentives."
He urged the Arizona Legislature to "come up with a jobs bill," and more generally to find a way to address issues. "So much time is spent pulling left and right that nobody's moving forward."
#4 – Regionalism rules.
The greater community must "solve issues on a regional basis, think about the entire market, and not jurisdictional boundaries."
#5 – "And darn it, people like me."
"We don't do enough celebrating of what we have," Snell said. "We spend much too much on the negatives, and listen to negative voices."