Let’s Capture the World View Opportunity
After months of planning and negotiating, Pima County and World View Enterprises, Inc. were able to strike an agreement that keeps this high-tech aerospace company headquartered here in Tucson. Arrangements made by Pima County call for the County to help construct a manufacturing and administrative facility and a space port in the area designated for a burgeoning defense and aerospace park near Raytheon. The park is land designated for clustering more and more companies in the defense and aerospace industries to create well-paying high-tech jobs. This is exactly the kind of economic development we need and it is the kind of economic development being sought by cities, counties and states across the U.S. Let’s capture this opportunity and not lose it to personal and political agendas.
The County’s plan is a good one. Helping World View to stay in Tucson is important because several other states were trying to lure World View to help bolster their economies using the same kinds of economic development strategies offered by Pima County. Having companies like World View select Arizona for their base of operations is right in the sweet spot of Gov. Ducey’s plans to expand the Arizona economy. The County’s success is an outcome that should be loudly applauded. The decision to support the World View package was voted in by a 4-1 (bi-partisan) margin by the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
However, there are some who still believe they can find a problem in every opportunity. Enter the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, an organization that last week filed suit against Pima County based largely on their contention that Pima County’s arrangements with World View violate the state’s gift clause. It should be noted at this point that the County’s arrangements with World View are supported by and were also vetted by the Arizona Commerce Authority.
I have read the Goldwater complaint and I have read the County’s response. While I am not an attorney, I believe the County has a strong position in this matter.
Legal language and technicalities aside, here’s what we know Pima County and the state of Arizona will gain by maintaining World View’s headquarters in Tucson:
- The World View business plan calls for the creation of 400 jobs, many of them the high-tech, high-value paychecks our region badly needs.
- The County projects a $3.5 billion positive economic impact on our community.
- The County and its taxpayers will be rewarded with $4.2 million ROI above and beyond the investment the County is making in infrastructure and facilities at the defense and aerospace park.
There are some who say the World View business plan is uncertain and that the County is putting taxpayer dollars at risk. To them I say this is business. Risk is a part of business. In the case of World View, the risk is worth taking. Just ask World View investors who are putting up millions of their own dollars to finance the operations of this visionary company.
Here’s what we know Pima County and the state of Arizona will lose if the Goldwater Institute’s lawsuit is successful:
- World View will be welcomed into the arms of another state offering similar incentives. The jobs, economic development potential and badge value of having a high-tech jewel in our region will go someplace other than Arizona.
- Other companies considering relocation to Arizona will now have a new set of uncertainties to contend with that may force them to reconsider their plans to make Arizona their home.
As you already know, the Tucson Metro Chamber is a staunch supporter of free enterprise. We support Gov. Ducey’s initiatives to reduce the level of regulatory compliance that have been heaped on businesses and his administration’s moratorium on the enactment of new regulations that stifle business in our state. The governor has put economic development at the top if his list of priorities and that is exactly where we believe economic development belongs.
To the purists who say that government and the private sector should not engage in joint projects I say look around. Across the country business and government already cooperate in lots of areas. Economic development, urban revitalization, construction of stadiums and arenas and a host of other examples define the current landscape of how things often get done. Again, let’s capture this opportunity. It is a sound public-private economic development effort. It should be supported and not shot down by personal and political agendas.
This is not a time to flex philosophical muscle. This is a time to get real and do whatever we can to create jobs, increase household income and expand our region as a great place to do business.
Michael V. Varney
President & CEO