Tucson Metro Chamber Congratulates World View, Pima County

Tucson Metro Chamber Congratulates World View, Pima County

Mike-Varney_Tucson-Metro-Chamber_borderLast Tuesday, January 19, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to fund construction of a $14.5 million headquarters building, light manufacturing facility and spaceport for World View, a commercial balloon spaceflight company.  World View uses high altitude balloon technology to lift research, communications and surveillance cargo, and possibly even human passengers to the stratosphere.  The list of advantages to using balloons instead of rockets for these purposes is long.  The science behind this technology is sound.  World View’s customers for this kind of travel to the edge of space already include NASA, Northrop Grumman and major universities.

World View’s new facility will be located on Aerospace Parkway near Raytheon Missile Systems and Tucson International Airport.  The high-tech nature of World View’s operations will add tremendous significance to Pima County’s plans to grow a defense and aerospace industrial cluster in this area, which has been designated the Sonoran Corridor.  The Sonoran Corridor is broadly supported by the business community, all of the region’s local governments as well as state and federal government leaders.  World View’s notoriety can easily be expected to attract more high-tech companies to the region and create the “food court” effect to centralize complementary businesses, competitors and suppliers in one area.

World View will repay Pima County for facilitating its growth in the form of a 20-year lease equal to $23.6 million.  The project is scheduled to create 400 jobs in five years and averaging $55,000 per year in annual salaries.  World View emphasizes purchasing from local companies, which adds untold millions of dollars to the bottom lines of small businesses across Pima County.  The publicity value of World View’s technology and high altitude flights is beyond measure.

The Tucson Metro Chamber congratulates World View, Pima County and all other contributors for collaborating on this arrangement.  This public-private partnership (P3) has become the norm in economic development.

Of course there will always be those who can find a problem in every opportunity and who are now criticizing the World View-Pima County partnership.  They tend to be the same people who lament our area’s lack of well-paying jobs.  They criticize the County for not doing more to help invigorate our local economy, yet when the County delivers tangible results and retains a fast-growing company sought by two other states, the naysayers still say nay.

But what ticks me off the most is that these boo-birds are detached from reality.  I travel to a lot of national and North American conferences where economic and community development are discussed. I listen to mayors, county leaders, governors and my peers in chambers of commerce across the country as they proudly talk about local projects they have gotten done together.  Industrial parks, sports arenas, educational institutions, downtown revitalization projects…you name it and P3s have made them happen.

Another thing to remember in the case of World View’s decision to build in Tucson: it was a competitive process.  As a community, we had the choice of competing for the headquarters and operations of World View or letting Florida, New Mexico (probably Texas) and who knows how many other states try to attract World View to their communities using the exact same types of incentives Pima County successfully employed.  Like it or not, that’s the way the game is played today.

Chalk one up for the good guys.


Michael V. Varney
President & CEO