BizTucson Fall 2023

Page 1


El Tour de Tucson: 40 Years of Impact

Tucson is a world-class city for cy cling. The catalyst that ignited a move ment four decades ago was El Tour de Tucson, which annually attracts about 7,500 riders from all over the world and has raised more than $110 million for local charities. Visionary El Tour Founder Richard DeBernardis started it all with the Perimeter Bicycling As sociation, and now, Executive Director TJ Juskiewicz envisions an even greater event on the world stage. He once said, “Tucson is a bike-crazy town,” and he’s absolutely right. Cycling is in our DNA. Loni Nannini files an extraordinary in-depth report on El Tour’s 40-year legacy.

Community leader and cycling enthusiast Edmund Marquez calls El Tour de Tucson an “economic juggernaut” for the region. Nannini highlights the economic impact, tourism and advantages. It can’t be overstated that USA Today readers voted El Tour de Tucson as the #1 U.S. Road Cycling Event, and twice voted The Loop as the #1 Recreational Trail in the nation.

Journalist Steve Rivera profiles The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, which was opened by Pima County five years ago. It’s a 137-mile, beautifully paved and landscaped pathway encircling the perimeter of the entire metro area. It’s pure paradise for anyone cycling, running, walking, roller-blading and even horseback riding!

Jay Gonzales reports on the exciting economic development initiatives at Sun Corridor Inc. This year’s edition, “Forging the Future,” focuses on regional efforts to boost talent and infrastructure. Our report includes interviews with Joe Snell, president & CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. along with members of its Chairman’s Circle,” a “who’s who” of the region’s leading CEOs. From Sun Corridor’s new Board Chair Susan Gray, president & CEO of Tucson Electric Power; Judy Rich, president & CEO of TMC Healthcare, Immediate Past Chair, Raytheon President Wes Kremer, University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins, Danette Bewley, president & CEO of Tucson Airport Authority, the list goes on. You’ll hear why our region is poised for continued growth and success.

Read about, Sun Corridor Inc’s new tool in talent attraction. The centerpiece website is part

a campaign that showcases Southern Arizona’s unparalleled quality of life, promotes the desert lifestyle, rankings, industry strengths, affordability, and other attributes of the 33rd largest U.S. city.

Journalists Dave Perry and Rodney Campbell commemorate BFL Construction’s 50th anniversary. The company, founded by local entrepreneur Garry Brav, is now led by veteran construction executive David Eves. One year into BFL leadership, Eves is building on its foundation of excellence, integrity and strong relationships while navigating a hyper-competitive, dynamic construction industry.

Perry also unveils the vision for a massive redevelopment of Foothills Mall. From the previous mall’s mostly demolished hub will soon rise Uptown, a reimagined new retail destination that local developer Don Bourn says is unlike anything the region has seen. The modern, vibrant new site will include 175,000 square feet of public space with a palm-lined promenade, performance venues and places to gather.

With fall comes the exciting return of college sports. Rivera offers a leadership profile of Arizona basketball coach Tommy Lloyd as he enters this third season for the Wildcats. As the year ends, the region also looks forward to the Arizona Bowl, our post-season college football game at Arizona Stadium that has raised millions for nonprofits.

We hope you enjoy our fall issue! We are grateful for our loyal readers, the tremendous support of our advertisers and our exceptional editorial team and its high standard of journalism.

Fall 2023 Volume 15 No. 3

Publisher & Owner Steven E. Rosenberg

Creative Director Brent G. Mathis

Contributing Editors Jay Gonzales Tara Kirkpatrick

Romi Carrell Wittman

Editor Emeritus Donna Kreutz

Contributing Writers

April Bourie

Rodney Campbell

Jay Gonzales

Tara Kirkpatrick

Tiffany Kjos

Christy Krueger

Contributing Photographers

Thomas Leyde

Loni Nannini

Dave Perry

David Pittman

Steve Rivera

Valerie Vinyard

Romi Carrell Wittman

Dean Kelly Brent G. Mathis

Kathleen Dreier

Chris Mooney

BizTucson News Update (Email Newsletter) Brent G. Mathis

Tara Kirkpatrick

Contributing Technology Director Mike Serres

Contributing Project Coordinator Maricela Robles


American Advertising Federation Tucson


Metropolitan Pima Alliance

Southern Arizona Leadership Council Sun Corridor Inc.

Tucson Metro Chamber

Visit Tucson

BizTucson Magazine Issue 4 (ISSN 1947-5047 print, ISSN 2833-6739 online) is published quarterly for $16 per year by Rosenberg Media, LLC., 4729 E. Sunrise Dr., PMB 505, Tucson, AZ 85718-4534. Periodicals postage pending at Phoenix, AZ, and additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: BizTucson Magazine, 4729 East Sunrise Dr., PMB 505, Tucson, AZ 85718-4534

© 2023 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Opinions expressed in columns or articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.


Phone: 520.299.1005

Subscription Information:

Advertising information: Steve Rosenberg 520.299.1005 or 520.907.1012 4 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Fall 2023 BizCONTENTS DEPARTMENTS BizLETTER 4 From the Publisher BizSPORTS 24 Arizona Bowl Generates Millions for Nonprofits 28 Arizona Wildcats’ Head Basketball Coach Tommy Lloyd BizCUISINE 62 Restaurateur Sam Fox Opens Flower Child, Doughbird BizEVENT 125 University of Arizona Center for Innovation 20th Anniversary Celebration BizRESEARCH 126 Angel Charity for Children Gr $800,000 for UArizona Steele Children’s Research Center BizCONSTRUCTION 130 DSW Commercial, HercuTech Partner in New Green Venture 134 Bourn Companies Unveils Uptown, Redevelopment of Foothills Mall 138 Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club’s New Owners Share New Vision BizMEDIA 142 KVOA News 4 Tucson at 70 BizRANKINGS 166 Tucson on the Radar: Region Receives Global, National Acclaim BizENTREPRENEUR 168 TENWEST Impact Festival Highlights Innovation 170 Social Venture Partners’ Fast Pitch Winner Crowned 76 134 FEATURES COVER STORY: 36 EL TOUR DE TUCSON: 40 YEARS OF IMPACT Voted #1 Road Cycling Event in USA 46 $110 Million+ for Charity 52 Bike with the Best: El Tour Draws Cycling Elite 56 The Loop a Hidden Gem Voted #1 Recreational Trail in USA ABOUT THE COVER El Tour de Tucson: 40 Years of Impact Creative Design by Brent G. Mathis 28 65 145 Sun Corridor Inc. “Forging The Future” BFL Construction: 50 Years Solid Growth SPECIAL REPORT 2023 THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE 50 YEARS SOLID GROWTH BFL CONSTRUCTION SPECIAL REPORTS 56

Tech Parks Arizona announced the promotion of Jessa Turner to associate VP of marketing and communications. Since joining Tech Parks Arizona in 2004, Turner has advanced the organization through strategic marketing and communication initiatives. She is an award-winning PR practitioner, receiving the Public Relations Society of America’s Best in Show Award for multiple years.

ech Parks Arizona announced the promotion of Casey Carrillo to director of strategic partnerships for the University of Arizona Center for Innovation. Carrillo will drive the development and management of strategic partnerships to fuel the success of the business incubator network. She has been an asset to Tech Parks Arizona since joining the team in 2020.

22 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizPEOPLE

The Hype is Real Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl Generates Millions for Nonprofits

Could there be a better hype man for the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl than Ali Farhang?

He’s the founder, the Chairman of the Board and all-out cheerleader for the bowl game that is now in its ninth year surpassing its humble predecessors the Copper Bowl and Bowl combined.

The Arizona Bowl is back with plans of being bigger and better than ever.

“The three most often asked questions in Tucson are: Is it gonna rain? What do you think about that rain?

And what are you doing on New Year’s Eve?” said Farhang, also a prominent local attorney. “Well, we’ve answered the third question.”

Well, kind of. This year’s Arizona Bowl will be on Dec. 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. There will be parties the next day affiliated with the Arizona Bowl, but point taken.

“The three pillars of why this game even started was to highlight the best of Tucson and Southern Arizona, to create immense economic impact for everybody here, and to create an orga-

nization that gives all net proceeds to nonprofits,” Farhang said. “I think that we’ve done a really good job of meeting our obligations to those three pillars. The best is yet to come.”

Farhang says it’s more than a game between two of the best teams from the Mountain West and Mid-American Conferences, but also a celebration of the city and all that it offers, a festival of sorts that highlights all the great things in Tucson.

“It’s going to be a great game and we’re going to have a great New Year’s

24 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

Eve Party,” he said, “and I’m hoping we’re building it to be at that (high) level. We have a lot of good people working it. It’s a testament to their intellect and power.”

He said more than 100 volunteers have joined in to make the bowl game its best ever. And the local businesses have long contributed.

“It’s like anything, if you’re doing things the right way,” Farhang said, “then you’re building an organization that can endure and succeed without you. We wanted to make it Tucson’s game and now we’ve got a bunch of southern Arizonans who feel like they have an ownership in the game.”

Clearly, Tucson nonprofits have benefitted the most. Through the years, the Arizona Bowl has given $5 million to charities throughout Southern Arizona. In 2022, more than $1.4 million was given out to local charities by the Arizona Bowl giving back 100 percent of the net proceeds and by Barstool Sports.

In late August, 10 local nonprofits were presented checks. They ranged from food providers to those granting wishes, helping the homeless and local

hospitals. Arizona Bowl officials haven’t met a nonprofit it hasn’t liked.

“We are thankful for the generous donation from the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl,” said Sarah Frost, CEO of Banner – University Medical Center Tucson and Banner – University Medical Center South. “Their donation will be used to help us reach our goal to build the Diamond Children’s Play Zone to benefit children receiving treatment at Diamond Children’s.”

Bowl officials want to help those who inspire and have an impact on people. According to Bowl officials, the game has generated an economic impact of $140 million through the years.

“This is why we do what we do,” Kym Adair, Arizona Bowl’s executive director said at a recent check presentation to nonprofits. “We want to build up the visibility of our community, give back to the amazing charities in our community and support the businesses of this community.”

Once again, the 2023 game will be streamed live on Barstool.TV to watch on your computer or phone. Or you can download the Barstool Sports app on

your TV, Roku, Fire Stick or Apple TV. Farhang continues to say it’s the wave of the TV-viewing future.

“We may have been a little bit ahead of the game,” Farhang said of the streaming concept. “You see what’s happening with both college and pro football. They have a bunch of games that are streamed this year.

“My kids and all their friends, people under the age 45 don’t even have cable. All they do is stream. And having the partnership with Barstool is great because they help drive a lot of people to watch our game and the things that have to do with our game.”

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2:30 p.m. Arizona Stadium

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 25
2023 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl executive board, staff, and Blue Blazers co-chairs
28 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Tommy Lloyd Head Coach Arizona Men’s Basketball

‘A Regular Guy’ Tommy Lloyd Coaches Basketball, Connects with the Community

Arizona basketball coach Tommy Lloyd stood in front of a few hundred boosters and fans in March and talked about Arizona’s potential in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. He wore his nowfamiliar red BTFD t-shirt and held court.

A few days later, hundreds of those shirts sold, making money for Arizona Assist, which provides name, image and likeness opportunities – or NIL − allowing Arizona men’s basketball players to monetize individual and collective brands and earn money while playing basketball.

“I’m an influencer now?” Lloyd quipped months later. “I never thought I’d use that term.”

Yes, Tommy, you’re more than the head coach of one of the country’s best men’s basketball programs. You are an influencer.

Welcome to the new world of college athletics where being a head coach of a major college athletic program is about more than winning games and championships and putting fans in the stands. It’s about kissing babies and shaking hands.

In the world of big business, coaches are now salespeople of sorts to help their programs compete against the other programs looking to win, and to also have a business impact on the community.

“Listen, it’s part and parcel to the job,” Lloyd said. “You’re a public figure. You represent an institution that’s heavily invested in you, heavily invested in the pro-

gram. Ultimately, they’re looking for a return, whether that’s positive exposure for the university, enrollment, butts in the seats … all those things.

“You have to understand you’re going to get asked to do outside things. I think it’s great. When I was asked to come here, it was a no-brainer (to get involved). Tucson is a very straightforward, simple, big town.”

So, he is − out and about at restaurants, games, lunches with donors and potential donors and so many more. He gets it.

“Connecting with those who support our program and the greater community in general is so important to success, maybe no more important than here in Tucson,” said Dave Heeke, UArizona VP and Director of Athletics. “People want to know their basketball coach and Tommy understands this and values those relationships and touchpoints. He loves interacting with people.

“Arizona Athletics, and certainly Arizona basketball, is a huge part of this community and a head coach who is willing to be part of that community, on the ground level, helps our program and further develops that passionate support by the fanbase. They make a difference by filling McKale, making it such a terrific home-court advantage as well as generating resources to help the program remain nationally competitive.”

Arizona Men’s Basketball

It’s a place, he said, where people are “acceptive and want each other to do well.”

“Coming down here I felt there weren’t a lot of competing interests,” he said. “I understand if you take over a program like Arizona, integrating in the community is a huge part of it.”

Longtime Tucson businessman Peter Evans said Lloyd’s outreach to fans and boosters has been –particularly in Phoenix − “as good as I’ve ever seen in my years of observing and being part of the program.”

Evans said Lloyd “is very engaging and enjoys engaging with the community. He’s very comfortable with that. He’s just a regular guy and is not hesitant or uncomfortcontinued on page 30 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 29
“A lot of the boosters are very successful, and I want to know what drives them. I want to learn from them.”
– Tommy Lloyd Head Coach

able, connecting with people and telling them what his plans are for the program. He tells them where he needs help.”

There’s no trick to it, Lloyd said, it’s all about being “authentic.”

“A lot of the boosters are very successful, and I want to know what drives them,” he said. “I want to learn from them. I’ve always appreciated that.”

He’s not looking to stand out. He just wants to be part of the community. It’s allowed him to have some “wonderful relationships” with fans and boosters.

He’s out playing pickle ball. He’s gone around town to meet and mingle with fans.

“I enjoy the diversity of Tucson,” he said, calling it building relationships. “I hope they know I want to be genuine about the relationship and not transactional.”

Yet, business is business. Some of it has to do with keeping up with the proverbial Joneses of the athletic world – connecting with businesses to help develop NIL opportunities to financially benefit athletes.

“It’s a good thing, but obviously, it’s been a shock to the system,” he said of NIL’s impact on college athletics. “It’s easy to be pessimistic about something that involves change. When you’re pessimistic, you’re basically defending yourself, protecting yourself. Now, it’s about navigating it the right way that’s sustainable and respectful to the game of basketball, to the community of Tucson, and impactful with the players that get here so we are able to have success.”

There is a caveat, though. He wants to make sure NIL isn’t “a central component of our program.”

“We’re not trying to buy a team,” he said. “We are still, at the end of the day, identifying players we think will be a great fit for our culture. We want to have the same college feel we’ve always had.”

He also knows he has to build a team to fill a 14,644seat arena.

“The coach is making (a good amount of money). It’s hard to sit there with a straight face and say that the talent should be getting a scholarship and nothing more,” he said. “Yes, there is great value in a scholarship. There is an unbelievable value in education, but I just think it’s gotten to a certain level where it had to change. I think it’s been a good thing.”

continued from page 29 Biz

30 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 31

One Seat Over Lloyd Picked up Leadership Lessons

as a Longtime Assistant

Peter Evans heard long ago how good Tommy Lloyd was on the sidelines, in the locker room and on the basketball court. After all, his son, Sean, was a team manager t Gonzaga University where Lloyd was a longtime assistant under current coach Mark

“My son always said people didn’t realize how big a part Tommy was of that program in all aspects,” said Evans, a longtime Tucson businessman. “Community. Xs and Os. viously, recruiting. Sean always said he was the ‘secret weapon.’ ”

He’s a secret no more. In fact, after his first two seasons as head basketball coach at the University of Arizona, he’s shown some of that same magic, guiding and building the program to unprecedented heights for a coach in his first two years. His 61-11 record in his first two seasons set a new NCAA record for wins by a coach in his first two years.

Lloyd calls himself a servant leader, someone who keeps the team’s “best interests in mind, managing individuals and making them feel good about their role and then helping them attach those roles to the group. You’re always looking at the whole. It’s making them understand they are part of something bigger than themselves.”

It’s about being “held accountable,” he added.

The results show how it has worked. The way his players play for him shows.

“He’s a very good leader,” said senior Pelle Larsson. “First of all, he’s very intelligent and knows how to get the most out of each guy and he doesn’t have to be this coach that’s always yelling at you. He’s more understanding. And it (leads) to a respectful relationship with all the players.”

Lloyd said it’s about “getting down to the ground level to bring guys along,” adding it’s about putting the players in position to have “authentic experiences where they can learn and grow from.”

And that’s growing from a success or a failure. Because, he said, there will be both, and there has been in his two years here.

“One of my biggest jobs is to help people to deal with struggle, because this is hard,” he said. “It’s high stakes for a lot of these

families and kids. Inevitably, it ends up being harder than almost all of them think it’s going to be.”

Get through the tough moments and you “reap the benefits,” he said.

Everything has to come with realistic expectations. It comes from constant conversations.

“The harder it is, the bigger of an advantage it is for us if we have the right character, the right makeup,” he said. “We can stay in the difficult times longer to get the compounding effects and results. It’s better than bailing. The job of any leader is to create a transfer of belief, making them believe that we can do this.”

UArizona VP and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke sees it daily. He called his coach’s leadership, “contagious, honest and genuine…real.”

“Tommy is always working to bring out the best in all, but also places a high level of importance on accountability,” Heeke said. “He has such a good feel for people, really caring about the people and players he leads.”

Lloyd admitted he’s more of a leader now than ever before, adding though that he’s always been a leader. Sitting one seat over in the head coaching spot “changes it a little bit.”

He was an assistant at Gonzaga for 22 years under Few, who has had tremendous success despite being at a smaller school. Lloyd said he knew he couldn’t “trump the boss” but that doesn’t mean “you can’t have significant input or impact.”

His influences are apparent. His father, Dale, is a construction foreman who Lloyd said is “a get-it-done guy” who “holds guys accountable.”

Then there was Few, “a great leader,” Lloyd said, “but we have different leadership styles. I was able to see how calm he was and how he built belief in the program.”

He said he understands no way is perfect, but you understand “that’s a good thing because you understand that you’re not going to be perfect either. It was good for me because I learned so many things over those 22 years.”

BizLEADERSHIP 32 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“One of my biggest jobs is to help people to deal with struggle, because this is hard. It’s high stakes for a lot of these families and kids.”
– Tommy Lloyd Head Coach Arizona Men’s Basketball

El Tour 40at

36 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

#1 Road Cycling Event in the U.S.

On Nov. 18, the Banner-University Medicine El Tour de Tucson race will welcome some 7,500 riders to race, celebrating 40 years of cycling excellence.

But El Tour is more than a race. The event has long been at the forefront of a movement, one with significant economic, social and philanthropic ramifications for Tucson, the state of Arizona, and beyond. The iconic road cycling event has enabled Tucson—and the region—to stake a share in the global bicycle market, which is currently valued at more than $110 billion; Fortune Business Insights projects that figure to reach more than $228 billion by 2030.

Over the past 40 years, El Tour has grown from a mostly local event to one that attracts cyclists from all over the world. In fact, readers of USA Today recently ranked the event No. 1 among “10 Best Road Cycling Events for 2023.” Today, the event is also ranked among the largest road cycling events in the United States.

In short, El Tour has evolved into a culture, according to TJ Juskiewicz, executive director of Perimeter Bicycling Association, the nonprofit that produces the El Tour event.

“El Tour showcases the amazing cycling community and the incredible support from private and public partnerships and individuals that separate our event from other great cycling events around the country,” Juskiewicz said. “Tucson stands alone with perfect weather, one-of-a-kind scenery, an unbelievable food scene as a City of Gastronomy, and a welcoming community that loves to host people from around the world.”

In addition to all of that, there is the race’s charitable component: El Tour has raised more than $110 million for nonprofits over the last four decades, Juskiewicz said.

Charities are not the sole beneficiaries of El Tour. Visit Tucson estimates that, in 2022, El Tour brought $1.25 million in spending over a two-day period. The figure doesn’t account for the revenue generated by participants from Arizona or vendors from the affiliated Expo & Fiesta. Juskiewicz estimated the total economic impact at $3-to-$5 million.

Edmund Marquez, principal of Edmund Marquez Allstate Agencies, board member of Rio Nuevo and member of the Jim Click Racing Team, said the event brings in substantial tourism dol-

continued on page 39 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 37
38 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
incredible support from private and public partnerships and individuals that separate our event from other great cycling events around the country.”
– TJ Juskiewicz Executive Director Perimeter Bicycling Association

continued from page 37 lars each year. “El Tour is an economic juggernaut,” he said. “It fills hotel rooms and restaurants, brings in revenue for businesses and generates sales tax from locals and people visiting Tucson. It’s a huge boost for our economy.”

With El Tour’s worldwide appeal, Southern Arizona is promoted to new audiences. Nick Pazzi, director of Visit Tucson Sports, said, “El Tour brings in additional spending that Tucson wouldn’t otherwise see, which benefits the entire community in the long run. We like to think that riders who come for the race will return with their families to visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert um, Old Tucson, Pima Air and Space Museum, Colossal Cave and other attractions in our region.”

In addition to tourism, El Tour attracts potential residents and businesses. In 2022, ranked Tucson No. 2 for Most Bicycle-Friendly Cities in the nation. The League of American Bicyclists named Tucson a ‘Gold Level” community for its “bikeability.” Laura Shaw, senior VP of Sun Corridor, Inc., said these kinds of rankings draw people to the community. “Highly visible lifestyle rankings catch the attention of talent looking to possibly relocate,” she said. “Our new “Thrive in Tucson” Talent Attraction Campaign is capitalizing on these types of rankings so Tucson gets to the top of the list of communities offering amenities that talent wants.”

El Tour in the Making: Emergence of an Epic Ride

In November 1983, local cycling enthusiasts gathered to ride 100 miles around the city, beginning and ending at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

The ride embraced the dual concepts of “perimeter rides”—in which participants learn about an area by cycling around it—and the “Century Challenge,” a 100-mile ride widely recognized by cyclists as a benchmark of personal and physical accomplishment.

Spearheaded by Richard De Bernardis, the event collected registration fees from 197 riders to benefit the American Diabetes Association. The ADA was succeeded by the Arthritis Foundation Southern Arizona Chapter, Tucson As-

continued on page 41 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 39
40 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

continued from page 39

sociation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Tu Nidito, and other nonprofits. This year, some 60 nonprofits will benefit from El Tour.

“El Tour was created to raise funds for nonprofits, to promote camaraderie and to help people obtain and maintain healthier lifestyles,” said Barbara Franklin, a volunteer and registration coordinator for El Tour since its inception. “It is great way for people to be part of something that brings the community together—individuals, teams, beneficiaries, sponsors and businesses. It is all about people coming together for others while also benefiting themselves.”

Over the years, the event has experimented with different routes, varied start and finish locations, and added distances to accommodate different ability levels. Today, El Tour has several races for participants to choose from: Century (102 miles); Metric Century (63 miles); Metric Half-Century (32 miles); and the FUN rides (three miles and one mile). The event also features a Platinum ride for elite cyclists.

Routes and starting locations have varied. Downtown Tucson and Oro Valley have served as starting locations, and routes have gone through South Tucson, East Tucson, the Catalina Foothills and Oro Valley. In 2021, the Tucson Convention Center was made the permanent start and finish line for every race. The Century route traverses south to Sahuarita and Green Valley and circles east toward Corona de Tucson and Vail prior to return-

continued on page 42 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 41
They are growing El Tour into a ride with a national and international presence: It has really put Tucson on the map.”
Edmund Marquez Cyclist and Principal
Edmund Marquez Allstate Agencies

continued from page 41

ing to downtown. The shorter rides have adopted a smaller footprint in the same general area. The route is the result of collaboration with officials, law enforcement and engineers and was designed to allow El Tour to function with optimal efficiency and safety for riders and the community.

“It is scenic and challenging and has become a very fast course, which some riders have really enjoyed. It is also lowtraffic and has less impact as far as tying up roads. It is a winwin for riders and for the community,” said Juskiewicz, who spent 16-plus years as director of the renowned RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) prior to taking the helm of El Tour in 2020.

The Tucson Convention Center also serves as the hub for the three-day Expo & Fiesta that accompanies El Tour. The party-like atmosphere features packet pick-up and safety briefings; food trucks; live music and entertainment; merchandise and cyclist-related vendors; information about sponsors and participating nonprofits, and much more.

Marquez says the downtown location highlights Tucson’s unique culture as well as its cultural renaissance. “Rio Nuevo has invested $100 million in modernizing and upgrading the TCC and it is a great front porch to welcome everyone visiting Tucson,” he said.

42 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“Our investment in El Tour is an extension of our commitment as a nonprofit hospital system to give back to the communities we serve.”
– Sarah Frost CEO
Banner-University Medical Center Tucson Banner-University Medical Center South

Cycling Meets Commerce, Community Spirit and Fundraising

Banner-University Medicine has been El Tour’s title sponsor since 2019. Sarah Frost, CEO of Banner-University Medical Center Tucson and Banner-University Medical Center South, said El Tour is an important part of the city’s culture.

“As a nonprofit hospital, each year Banner-University Medicine contributes more than $800 million to the Tucson community,” she said. “The partnership with El Tour enables more than 60 community nonprofits to raise more than $5 million each year. Our investment in El Tour is an extension of our commitment as a nonprofit hospital system to give back to the communities we serve.”

As title sponsor, Banner has named Pima Joint Technical Education District as the El Tour primary beneficiary for the second consecutive year. In 2022, this resulted in a $50,000 donation to the Pima JTED Mel and Enid Zuckerman Center for Health and Medical Careers. Slated for completion in 2024, the 50,000-square-foot facility will offer a range of programs including certifications for registered medical assistants, certified nursing assistants, comprehensive health care technicians, emergency medical technicians, social and mental health technicians, pharmacy technicians, veterinary assistants, and more.

“We know that partnerships with JTED support health education and that will impact the health and wellness of the community for years to come,” said Frost.

Another cornerstone of El Tour community spirit is the force of volunteers recruited to assist with everything from set-up and break-down to manning aid stations along the route. Trained volunteers known as the “Bike Patrol” also assist riders when they encounter mechanical or physical issues on the route.

“Volunteers are the heart of El Tour de Tucson, and all the people who ride to raise money for charities are the soul,” said Greg Yares, longtime volunteer and former co-director with Bill Sarnack of the Bike Patrol.

Select volunteers and cycling supporters are honored each year at the annual dedication, which reads like a “Who’s Who” of community leaders and cycling mavens. The list includes Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly; Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, and Andy Clarke, a former president of the League of American Bicyclists. Other recipients are Jeannette Maré, founder of Ben’s Bells, and former Pima County Commissioner Chuck Huckleberry, who spearheaded “The Loop”—a 131-mile network of paved, shared-use paths in and around Tucson that are a key asset for residents and visiting cyclists.

The continued focus on philanthropy has enabled El Tour to remain true to its vision of giving back while supporting individual accomplishment for cyclists of all levels.

“The volunteers and people who have been honored personify the spirit of El Tour: Setting a goal and working toward it. It is about inspiring each other and inspiring the community,” said longtime volunteer Barbara Franklin.

That inspiration extends to the elite national and international cyclists who have participated over the years. This

continued on page 44 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 43

continued from page 43

year’s roster is headlined by Bob Roll, Nelson Vails, Rahsaan Bahati, Greg LeMond, and Denise MuellerKorenek. These elite cyclists and the Platinum ride have contributed to the popularity of the event among amateur and professional cyclists, other athletes, and sports enthusiasts.

“El Tour is one of the big reasons that Tucson has become such a cycling mecca,” said Franklin.

Sprinting into the Future

As El Tour seeks to expand its appeal and cement Tucson’s place as a premier destination for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, strategic partnerships are critical. Event organizers seek continued partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits, economic development organizations and public-private entities, as well as local and national cycling organizations such as USA Cycling and the League of American Cyclists.

“These collaborations help all of us to meet and achieve our mutual goal, which is to shine a spotlight on Tucson and show all we can achieve together,” said Shawna Ruboyianes, chairman of the board of directors for Perimeter Bicycling Association and president of Stewart Title & Trust of Tucson.

For the 40th Anniversary, several new events will take place. The El Tour de Tucson 5K Run/Walk, made possible through a partnership with Run Tucson, the firstever El Tour Women’s Bicycle Clinic and the opening of the 32-mile ride to e-bikes are all new this year.

Another new venture is the Prologue Camp, which debuted last year. The five-day inclusive camp allows riders to train alongside professionals such as Bob Roll, George Hincapie, Kristin Armstrong, and other elite cyclists leading up to the event. Shawna Ruboyianes added, “The elite cyclists associated with the Prologue give us more exposure and bring in riders from Europe, Canada and every state in the nation.”

Each El Tour participant will a receive a medal and a commemorative pin created by local artist Joe Pagac. El Tour has also worked with the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the City of Tucson to create murals throughout Tucson and to dedicate an interactive art sculpture for The Loop in honor of the 40th Anniversary.

“We are bringing the community together and bringing art outdoors where everyone in the city can enjoy it,” Ruboyianes said. “El Tour has far-reaching tentacles.”

Moving forward, supporters believe the sky is the limit for El Tour and the Perimeter Cycling Association, which has expanded beyond Tucson with El Tour De Zona. The multi-day ride and festival showcases Southern Arizona with a route through Tombstone, Bisbee, Benson, and Sierra Vista. There is also talk of an expansion to the Phoenix area in 2024.

Marquez said El Tour has shined a spotlight on Tucson and he credits Juskiewicz. “TJ is a visionary who dreams big,” he said. “They are growing El Tour into a ride with a national and international presence: It has really put Tucson on the map.”

44 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
46 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
for fundraising and philanthropy.”
Shawna Ruboyianes President Stewart Title & Trust of Tucson Chair of the Board Perimeter Bicycling Association
Kathy Prather and Sarah Frost

Pedaling withPurpose

El Tour de Tucson Raises More Than $110 Million for Nonprofits

For 40 years, riders in the BannerUniversity Medicine El Tour De Tucson have been pedaling with purpose.

Since its beginning, the renowned bike ride has grown into a philanthropic powerhouse that has raised more than $110 million dollars to benefit local, na tional and international nonprofits.

“El Tour is a vehicle for fundraising and philanthropy,” said Shawna Ruboy ianes, president of Stewart Title & Trust of Tucson and chair of the board for Perimeter Bicycling Association. “It is a (fundraising) tool for so many non profits. For riders, it becomes a vehicle to support something that matters. It means a lot for people to be able to ride for a cause that is important to them.”

Over the past four decades, those causes have ranged from small grass roots efforts to international founda tions that represent diverse interests in animals, the arts, children, community development, education, the environ ment, health and wellness, human ser vices, and more.

Philanthropy in El Tour’s Wheelhouse

Since its inception, more than 100 charities have benefitted from their affiliation with the iconic event. This year, 60-plus nonprofits of all sizes have registered as Official Charity Partners.

Among the many popular charities aided from El Tour over the years are Banner-Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona, Pima Animal Care and Beads

of Courage, which raises funds through its Ride For Courage team, are all longtime partners.

The United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona will field its Ride United team for the first time this year.

Tony Penn, United Way president and CEO, said the team will ride in honor of Michael J. Harris, a founding member of El Tour and a supporter of the United Way. “Michael loved this community, his United Way, and bringing the community together around nonprofit engagement,” Penn said. “It’s a natural fit for us to be involved in this classically Tucson event that benefits our community.”

Official charity partnerships offer numerous advantages for nonprofits. El Tour provides marketing, along with online information about each charity as well as convenient online registration.

“These nonprofits receive exposure from being a primary beneficiary and they also receive a large donation from the proceeds of El Tour, which is a nonprofit itself. That is just one of the many ways that we are giving back to the community,” said TJ Juskiewicz, executive director of Perimeter Bicycling Association, the nonprofit that produces the El Tour event.

Designated beneficiaries have ranged from the American Diabetes Association and Easter Seals Blake Foundation to Pima Joint Technical Education District. Tu Nidito Children and Family Services received donations of more than $1 million as the primary El Tour beneficiary from 1998 to 2013.

“If it weren’t for El Tour, we probably wouldn’t be the organization that we are today,” said Liz McCusker, executive director of Tu Nidito. “They contributed to our growth and success and we are

continued on page 48 >>>
on with that in their lives.”
– Jim Click Owner & President Jim Click Automotive

continued from page 47

grateful. Their model has changed over the years and they are reaching so many charities now: Their impact is incredible.”

Founded as a pediatric hospice, Tu Nidito now provides bereavement support for children, teens, parents, and young adults suffering the loss of a loved one. It also offers support for children with serious medical conditions and their families. Tu Nidito’s Ride for a Child team returns this year with a goal of raising $30,000 and connecting with the community.

“The week before El Tour, our riders come enjoy dinner and meet some of the kids, which really connects them to our mission. When they are out riding, they can think of the little girl who has leukemia and the seven-year-old boy who lost his dad. This is not just a ride: they are fueling our mission and we want them to know that what they are doing matters,” said McCusker.

Collaborations Create Innovative Programs

Participating nonprofits—and El Tour itself—offer opportunities for giving beyond riding bikes.

More than 300 volunteers assist annually with every aspect of the threeday Expo & Festival and the ride itself.

Support and Gear Stops/Aid Stations along the route are manned by individuals, businesses, service groups, and nonprofits such as Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona and Boys Scouts of America, Catalina Council Troop #739. The “Bike Patrol” assists riders in need along the route.

El Tour’s multi-pronged philanthropic approach also advocates for programs such as Bikes for Change, which gives bicycles to underserved children. Launched last year, the initiative provided 500 bikes, helmets, locks, and other equipment to children ages 7 to 13. Each recipient also received free registration in any El Tour de Tucson distance ride.

The program recently joined forces with Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson and is on track to gift at least 1,500 bikes to kids in partnership with Jim Click, Canyon Ranch, Tucson Conquistadores, Tucson Electric Power and Pace Ranch.

“Do you remember how it felt when you got your first bike? Bikes for Change gives bikes to underprivileged kids who have never had one. Unfortunately, we are not a wealthy community and it is important for kids to have that opportunity. It just makes good sense to get them on a bike, teach them safety and get them to exercise. Hopefully they will continue on with that in their lives,” said Jim Click, owner and president of Jim Click Automotive, who has ridden in El Tour several times and credits cycling as a source of fitness, friendships,

family togetherness and much more. The Arizona Bowl and Precious Metals Refinery have also provided grants; partners such as Pantano churches and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base extend hands-on support with bicycle assembly and safety primers.

Denise Watters, CEO of BGCT, said the bikes go beyond recreation for these children–90% of whom live in poverty.

“So many of the youth we work with live their childhood life confined to a four-block radius around home, school and our clubhouses,” she said. “They literally don’t know what is down the road. A bicycle opens doors for them to see everything in their backyard, whether that is Sabino Canyon, the University of Arizona, museums or the Reid Park Zoo. To give these kids wheels and a green form of transportation is one of most empowering, sustainable things we can do for Tucson and the communities we serve.”

Cycling to Break Down Social Barriers

Together with Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports, El Tour is working to empower another underserved population: Those with physical challenges.

Founded in 2017 by Mia Hansen, SASS is dedicated to providing fitness, recreation and competitive sports opportunities for people with disabilities. “Being active is so important for everyone, especially if you have a physical disability that might limit your ability to exercise. Inactivity can lead to other problems with strength, balance and cardiovascular issues, which can result in further injury or illness and hospitalization,” Hansen said. “We want people to stay healthy, fit and engaged, so we try to break down barriers to access, cost, and equipment.”

OMEO Technology and its parent company, AGM Container Controls, has provided equipment and support to build the SAAS cycling program and field the OMEO Accessibility Champions Team, which has ridden in El Tour for the past three years. The team comprises cyclists of all ability levels riding bikes, trikes and handcycles. Team members include athletes from the UArizona Adaptive Athletics Department and those living with spinal cord

continued on page 50 >>>

48 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“If it weren’t we probably wouldn’t be the organization that we are today. They contributed to our growth and success and we are grateful. ...They are reaching so many charities now. Their impact is incredible.”
– Liz McCusker Executive Director Tu Nidito
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 49

injuries, paralysis, limb loss, and neuromuscular illness.

“Many people don’t believe that a person with a disability can ride 100 miles, but of course they can. It takes practice and perseverance and we need awareness and systems in place to support them. It is so important to have an organization that focuses on providing opportunities and finds ways to get things done. ‘Adapt, achieve and believe is our slogan,’” said Hansen.

SAAS El Tour fundraising will benefit the Eduardo Aguirre Adaptive Cycling Center, which will promote mental health awareness and provide convenient equipment storage for those with physical disabilities near The Loop. A $10,000 grant from AARP and a grant from the local Alan Harris Foundation will augment funds raised through El Tour.

A Platform for Philanthropy

Rotary International is a prime example of how many nonprofits leverage El Tour and the increased visibility it brings to their organizations. Rotary International got involved with El Tour 14 years ago and, since that time, it’s raised more than $20 million for its campaign to end polio. Those funds have been supplemented by a two-to-one match from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, resulting in $63 million for the effort globally.

“When Rotary International started this effort in the 1980s, 350,000 people were diagnosed with polio annually. That is almost 1,000 cases every day,” said Kirk Reed, an El Tour veteran. “Thanks to Rotary’s global efforts, we are down to just a few dozen cases, but we have to eliminate it completely so it doesn’t come back.” Reed is also Chair of the Michael J. Harris Rotary District 5500 Ride to End Polio, a team for Rotarians, their families and friends.

Ultimately, the entire nonprofit community benefits from the platform for philanthropy provided by El Tour.

“Each one of our nonprofit charity partners has inspiring stories to tell,” said Ruboyianes. “El Tour helps to tell those stories and bring awareness to the network of nonprofits doing incredible work in our community.”

continued from page 48 Biz

50 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizCYCLING
52 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

Bike with Best the

El Tour de Tucson Draws Cycling Elite to Region

As a race or a ride, Banner-University Medicine El Tour De Tucson is a competition with a growing international reputation for attracting top professional cyclists around the globe.

“People can do El Tour as a race or a ride, but anytime you have high-level athletes and some of the best pros in the world being timed with numbers on their backs, it is a race. It is very prestigious and special to cross the finish line first,” said Rob Alvarez, 2017 winner of El Tour. Last year, Alvarez and Paul Thomas placed first in the tandem category and third overall.

The accolades are significant to the Tucson native, who is founder and owner of Stone House Group, a real estate and property management company. Alvarez is title sponsor of Stone House Group Cycling Team alongside team manager Brian Forbes, as well as co-title sponsor of PNS Group out of Hermosillo, Mexico. The El Tour 2018 winner, David Solomon, has also been instrumental in leading the team to its success.

Stone House Group was the winning team in El Tour for five consecutive years. Alvarez and his teammates typically ride in the competitive Platinum Division, which starts five minutes prior to the main group.

Though El Tour is not an officially sanctioned U.S.A. Cycling race, the Platinum Division comprises cyclists ranked Category 1 or 2 by U.S.A. Cycling and

those who have previously completed El Tour in less than five hours.

For the last several years, the Platinum Division has welcomed acclaimed professionals such as Colby Simmons, the 2021 National Junior Road Race Champion and his brother, Quinn, champion of the 2018 National Junior Road Race and 2019 World Junior Road Race. Other participants have included Josh Rinderknecht, winner of the American Cycling Championship Criterium; former Grand Tour Champion Damiano Cunego; 2019 U.S. Criterium Champion Travis McCabe; Olympian Frankie Andreu; U.S. Road Race and Criterium Champ Eric Marcotte and many other top names.

“El Tour is an ‘A-List of Cyclists,’ with names like Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie and younger riders like Quinn Simmons. These are guys who have been, and are currently, the best in the world, so El Tour is a great show with a lot of great press. To have a good showing means everything to your team and to younger guys looking to continue their pro journeys or get professional contracts. It is important to be seen and to have a good performance,” said Alvarez.

The Platinum Division has elevated El Tour’s profile among the international community and broadened its appeal to Canadian and European champions, world-champion triathletes and top teams such as Jetset Racing, Bike House

Dunedin, and Monster Media Racing.

“El Tour is clear in enunciating that this is not a bike race, but the Platinum Group are extremely competitive and are out there to win it. Most of the people behind that group are more into personal achievement. They realize they are not going to win but are there to give their personal best,” said Ralph Phillips, a 61-year cycling veteran who rode in the original El Tour. He is owner of Fair Wheel Bikes, Tucson’s oldest bike shop. Fair Wheel Bikes caters to the increasingly competitive faction of resident and visiting cyclists with a weekly “Shoot Out” from the University of Arizona to Green Valley and back. The fast-paced ride boasts 100-plus elite-level cyclists every Saturday.

The Holualoa Companies El Tour de Tucson Prologue Camp offers an another opportunity to ride alongside pros. Prior to El Tour, participants in the fiveday camp can train with legends such as Hincapie, Bob Roll, Kristin Armstrong, Christian Vande Velde, Mari Holden, Rahsaan Bahati, Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt.

“With El Tour and these other opportunities, you can be out there on a Saturday in Tucson riding with the best in the world. I couldn’t go play basketball with Michael Jordan or throw a football with Joe Namath, but I can ride with guys who have ridden the Tour de France. That is really cool,” said Alvarez.

54 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizCYCLING
56 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

The Loop “Hidden Gem”

Users Are Well Into the Millions

Paul Weiderhold is one of thousands of cyclists who spends time riding the Chuck Huckelberry Loop for recreational purposes and for convenience of travel.

Weiderhold uses The Loop to get out for a nice ride a day or two or more each week, and sometimes to get across Tucson as easily as possible.

“Easy access,” Weiderhold called it. Get from the far east side to the northwest side − no problem. “Convenient, too” he said.

Ten miles on the Loop, give or take a few miles, and enjoy the ride.

“The thing that I love about The Loop is that it helps you control your tempo,” he said. “Even if you are a fast rider, it’s a break … it’s forced discipline. I stroll (at times). It’s great for that. And you find out you can get to places nearly as fast as you can being in traffic.

“We appreciate it for that,” he said. “But it also lowers the anxiety. No matter how long you’ve been a cyclist, there’s always a level of anxiety being on the road on a bicycle. It’s a retreat. You don’t have to worry about traffic, but you’re still mindful of those on The Loop.”

“The Loop is the gateway to everything Pima County has to offer,” says Matt Stoger, a park supervisor for Pima County.

County officials say more than 1.3 million people used The Loop last year, making it one of the most visited attractions – if not THE most visited − in Southern Arizona. In 2021 and 2022, USA Today named The Loop the best recreational trail in the United States. Pima County officials called that “a big, big deal.”

“The Chuck Huckelberry Loop continues to be an incredible draw for tourism in Pima County,” said Diane Frisch, Director of Pima County Attractions & Tourism. “With access to numerous parks, art installations, murals, historical sites, restaurants and shopping, there’s something for everyone to enjoy including our scenic landscapes and wildlife. We are indeed lucky to have The Loop and visitors and residents tell us that every day.”

It’s 137 miles of health and wellness, and so much more.

“The Loop is a Tucson hidden gem,” said cyclist Tim Medcoff, a local attorney. “Whether you are a walker, runner, bicyclist or horse rider, The Loop is the safest place in town to walk, run or ride while also enjoying the beautiful scenery that makes Tucson special.”

It’s for the everyday person looking for a nice stroll and all kinds of athletes looking for a strong workout.

continued on page 58 >>> PHOTOS COURTESY PIMA COUNTY


continued from page 57

“We want to make sure that everyone knows they are encouraged to use The Loop,” Stoger said.

There are plenty who are out there to see the wildlife, too.

“You can take pictures of critters,” Stoger said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve been out in the field doing inspections on The Loop and I’ve seen Gila monsters, javelina, deer or snakes. There is so much to see and enjoy.”

There’s even a sculpture of a javelina on a bike, a bat on a bike, tile murals and more than four dozen pieces of art along The Loop.

Walk or ride one mile, more of it, or all of it. People see the benefits of it. Maybe more now than ever, especially after the COVID pandemic brought people out who didn’t want to stay indoors. The cycling industry saw a big spike in sales and usage.

“People wanted to be out there, even in the heat of the summer,” said Steve Morganstern, an avid cyclist and owner of Bicycle Ranch Tucson. “No doubt I’ve seen an increase in usage.”

He should know. He said he’s out on The Loop two to three times a week. It’s a draw for visitors or tourists who happen upon it.

“People move to Tucson because of the cycling availability here and for The Loop,” Morganstern said. “It has a safety and great infrastructure.”

Cycling advocate Damion Alexander is a frequent and consistent cyclist on The Loop, often doing business with clients or potential clients. A local realtor, Alexander said he’s closed “quite a few” deals while strolling on The Loop. He also runs a Facebook page highlighting all things concerning The Loop.

“There’s not a day where I

go out and don’t run into a friend, if not dozens,” Alexander said. “On a business level, there are so many people choosing to move to Tucson because of it. If you’re into outdoor recreation, there is no safer place to ride a bike. You pass through so many neighborhoods that back up to The Loop and all have direct access to The Loop. Some of the clients looked at where they could ride, and The Loop was a major factor in the decision to come here.”

And where better to be than in the outdoors – for most months – than Tucson and Southern Arizona? Smoger admitted The Loop was one of the reasons his family moved to Tucson from Chicago.

“We got a lot of positive feedback from people just being able to get outside, get some fresh air and still be socially distant and still stay healthy.”

It’s built for everyone with connections to bus and bike routes, restaurants, hotels, schools and more. Don’t forget the historic sites like Rillito Park

Businesses – and they are numerous – benefit from the seemingly constant traffic as it stretches from the far northwest side to the far east side to the south and everywhere in between.

Completed in 2018 − and dedicated that same year to Huckelberry, the former Pima County Administrator, The Loop is a network of shareduse paths that connect the Cañada del Oro, Rillito, Santa Cruz, and Pantano river parks with the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenway. It’s grown from 131 miles to 137 total miles.

Edmund Marquez, a local businessman and cyclist, rides The Loop five times a week, and rode with Huckelberry

continued on page 60 >>>

58 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023


back in the day.

“He’s so proud of The Loop,” Marquez said. “I’d see him and his buddies riding it, too, and they’d always wear their Pima County cycling kits. I loved seeing him out there.

“Thank God Chuck saw the vision of The Loop to make it happen. He created one of the biggest assets we have in this community. Of all the cities I’ve been and cycled in, they don’t have a loop like this.”

Smoger said there are no immediate plans to expand The Loop, except “to add connections to it.” A one-mile extension occurred in the last couple of years on the far northwest side near Tangerine Road in Oro Valley.

Pima County has also initiated a pavement preservation plan to continue to keep The Loop safe and travelable.

“It’s up to us to get a better handle, managing and maintaining the pavement specifically on The Loop,” Smoger said. “That’s to ensure safety for all users. We want to look at sealcoating priorities; we need to crack fill areas as the pavement needs to be redone.”

He added: “We are also evaluating user experiences on the path to determine how to evolve it for all users.”

Smoger did say the county continues to look at entry points into The Loop for easy access from all areas.

“It’s not just a loop. It has stretch segments that reach out that allow you to move through multiple towns, municipalities in the county to make it accessible for great recreation or for easy transportation, commuting for work, visiting parks,” he said. “We’re trying to bridge the gap to make sure you can get to other jurisdictions.

“It’s really easy for people to go out and enjoy The Loop.”

It’s helped the iconic El Tour de Tucson gain cycling participation given Tucson is now considered a cycling hotbed.

“El Tour was established in 1983 about the time The Loop was first started,” said TJ Juskiewicz, executive director of El Tour. “It’s not a coincidence Tucson is a bikefriendly and bike-centric destination because of El Tour and The Loop. New cyclists who come and ride in El Tour love what we have here, and The Loop is one of the reasons. It’s easily accessible and easy to ride. El Tour cyclists train on The Loop to get ready for the ride. It’s a great partner of ours.”

continued from page 58 Biz

60 BizTucson
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 61
62 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Sam Fox Founder Fox Restaurant Concepts

Culinary Like a Fox

Sam Fox Brings Flower Child, Doughbird to Thrilled, Hungry Tucson

Forget King Midas, let’s talk about the Fox touch.

Sam Fox, Tucson’s native son who grew his culinary empire from Southern Arizona, has opened more than 100 restaurants across the country and will launch a posh hotel this fall. The founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts is a nine-time James Beard Award nominee and is recognized as one of the most influential people in the restaurant industry today.

Yet, he continues to invest in his hometown, opening his Flower Child and Doughbird concepts here this spring to welcoming patrons who dutifully wait in lines to dine on his delicious, modern food. Fox’s eateries are literally economic development engines in themselves.

“From my time working and growing up in Tucson, from my first restaurant to our growing businesses there...Tucson has always been somewhere that

I’m very proud to say that I’m from,” said Fox. “We want to continue to evolve and bring concepts there every time we have an opportunity.”

Together, Flower Child and Doughbird replace the former Old Chicago Pizza in Campbell Plaza, a central location Fox was thrilled to nab. “We know the traffic patterns and we do really well with hospitals and we do really well with universities,” he said. The University of Arizona and Banner-University Medical Center are just down the street, and if the crowded lunchtime parking lots are any indication, it’s a winning strategy.

“When we found the location in Tucson, we knew it was perfect for this combo,” Fox said. “Opening two restaurants around the same time is not a small feat, but it has been a goal of ours to bring these two concepts to the city. We loved the idea of combining the two and being right next to each other in a shared

space; it worked out perfectly.”

Flower Child offers “healthy food for a happy world,” including tasty salads, wraps and bowls with fresh ingredients and numerous vegan, gluten-free and paleo options in a fast-casual space. Its signature app offers easy ordering and take-out, along with designated pickup spots. The dine-in line here starts right after it opens at 11 a.m.

The adjacent, dark-blue paneled Doughbird features comfort food, including pizzas with Detroit-style or traditional crusts, homemade chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks and salads for more sit-down fare. Repeat customer, realtor and pizza lover Tim Harris sums it up, perfectly: “Whenever I’m there, I run into the nicest people. Also, the pizza is good!” he said.

F lower Child and Doughbird are welcome additions to Campbell Plaza, which has a rich history in Tucson, accontinued on page 64 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 63

continued from page 63

cording to Michael Sarabia, principal and CEO of plaza owner DSW Commercial Real Estate. Additional parking canopies behind the nearby World Gym have been installed to increase parking and TESLA is in the process of installing charging stations, he said.

“The deal with Fox Restaurant Concepts to bring Flower Child and Doughbird to the shopping center has helped make the shopping center one of the more relevant centers in the entire corridor,” said Sarabia. “Sam Fox was from Tucson, and his attention to detail and awareness of culinary trends is literally unparalleled and we absolutely love the energy they have brought to Campbell Plaza.”

A Sabino High School graduate who grew up working in his family’s The Hungry Fox restaurant, Fox left UArizona and a finance internship to forge his own way. “I’m a self-starter and as it turns out...a serial entrepreneur,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to bet on myself and believe in myself. Having started my first business and struggling from the beginning really taught me a lot about who I am.”

Fox Restaurant Concepts’ first restaurant, Wildflower, opened in Tucson in 1998 and the rest is history. Fox also continues to give back to the city that launched him, supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, which gave him the Click for Kids Award in 2018, and the UArizona Steele Children’s Research Center.

He’s now poised to open his first boutique hotel, The Global Ambassador, in Phoenix in November – a longdesired venture in which Fox has touched everything, from the room décor to the luxe rooftop bar.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” he said. “We’re excited to show it off in the fall and I hope there will be a lot of people from Tucson that go there, as well.”

64 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“From my time working and growing up in Tucson, from my first restaurant to our growing businesses there... Tucson has always been somewhere that I’m very proud to say that I’m from.”
Sam Fox, Founder Fox Restaurant Concepts

Region Responds to Post-Pandemic

When Tucson lands a new company or large expansion that brings jobs, revenue and often new industries to the region, it usually has been through an intense job interview of sorts.

Companies looking for a location for their organizations where they can succeed hire site selectors – headhunters, in a way − to find the perfect place to bring their jobs, their employees and

their infrastructure for what they anticipate is a long-term relationship.

The proverbial job requirements are not a mystery to any region trying to attract the best types of businesses: ones with high-paying jobs, hundreds or thousands of employees, and a financially bright and long-term future. The competition for them has always been fierce. Now, there’s an added element –

COVID has changed the site selection landscape, says Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc.

It’s taken some time, but regions like Southern Arizona are recognizing how the landscape changed and they are taking action.

Supply Chain Issues Emerge

Disruptions in the supply chain that materialized during the pandemic

68 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

Site Selection Trends

changed strategies for thousands, even millions of companies. They realized the reliance on China in the supply chain was a huge risk for U.S. companies. It was a “wakeup call,” Snell said.

The result, he said, has been a “massive push” to relocate manufacturing companies out of China to areas where transportation and logistics are more stable - areas like Tucson.

“We have seen a 40% increase in our pipeline of manufacturing projects over the last three years,” Snell said, adding that a global focus on climate change has put the region on the map for the automotive industry, particularly the supply chain for the millions of electric vehicles and parts being produced.

“We have experienced explosive growth in the number of qualified proj-

ects from the clean energy industry,” said Snell. “In the last three years, we have seen a 330% increase in automotive-related projects, specifically EV.”

Talent Still the Driver

Even with the changing landscape, Snell said, one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of having the talent in your region for the new companies that are arriving.

continued on page 70 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 69 BizECONOMY

continued from page 69

“Most of the drivers are still the same as they’ve been either before, during or after the COVID pandemic,” said Snell. “We have seen some new trends and new drivers emerge, but the No. 1 driver that has been the No. 1 driver since about the mid-1980s is talent. Talent drives all market decisions.”

An unexpected, post-pandemic trend has been a low unemployment rate nationally, leading to the talent supply in a number of industries not keeping up with the demand in communities like Tucson, Snell said.

“Every competitive region has to have a continuous focus on workforce development,” said Susan Gray, president and CEO at Tucson Electric Power. She is the current chair of Sun Corridor Inc.

“The University of Arizona is a true draw for companies looking for that innovative talent pipeline, and Pima Community College has done an amazing job creating career pathways that are aligned with existing businesses,” Gray said. “But as significant as our higher education institutions are, they can’t do workforce development programs alone.”

Growing the local talent is a critical component of the talent question, Snell points out.

“We feel like we’re a step up because of Pima Community College, and the University of Arizona and ASU’s presence here,” he said. “But there’s still a gap. If we kept every engineer that the University of Arizona graduated, there still aren’t enough to fill all the engineering jobs in Tucson.”

on 267 acres of land owned by Pima County at the Aerospace Research Campus south of Tucson International Airport. The company expects to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the region.

Talent was a major component of the Pivot Playbook, a region-wide, post-pandemic strategic plan produced by Sun Corridor Inc. in collaboration with business and government leaders to identify trends that emerged during the pandemic. The plan led Sun Corridor Inc. to launch a talent attraction web site called “Thrive in Tucson,” which is a one-stop resource to promote the region’s lifestyle, rankings, quality of life, affordability, and other attributes to those looking to relocate. The campaign gained steam this past year with new social media channels, an influencer campaign and digital advertising.

“A community’s ability to attract talent absolutely defines wins and losses,” Snell said. “We’re no different.”

“We want to grow and train up our population. That’s the best way to do it because we don’t have to convince somebody what it’s like to live here. But frankly, we can’t just rely on that. In-migration really has to be a comprehensive strategy.”

Infrastructure Remains Critical

Like any quality job candidate, a community has to have multiple skills, or more accurately, multiple attributes.

Topping that list is the availability of land and existing buildings so companies can avoid years of site preparation, permitting and installation of infrastructure such as power, water and roads to move in.

“Land availability is a big driver, especially in Tucson,” Snell said. “If companies can’t find that in the market, they’re moving to the next market immediately.”

American Battery Factory announced in December that it was locating its first “battery cell gigafactory” in Tucson

“Pima County’s partnership with American Battery Factory signifies a high return on investment made by the County and taxpayers 10 years ago when the Board took positive steps to acquire the Aerospace Research Campus,” Supervisor Sharon Bronson said. “American Battery Factory is exactly the type of high-wage employer we hoped to attract.”

“Available land with the right zoning was critical to getting that deal,” Snell said. “American Battery needed a big footprint. Pima County had that. All the hard work had been done.”

Cooper Sutherland, VP for acquisitions and development for the Arizona region for Schnitzer Properties, said his company recognized a few years ago that Tucson was ripe for development, speculation and investment, and so far, the national real estate developer has been right.

The company currently has seven

continued on page 72 >>>

70 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“The University of Arizona is a true draw for companies looking for that innovative talent pipeline, and Pima Community College has done an amazing job creating career pathways that are aligned with existing businesses.”
– Susan Gray President & CEO Tucson Electric Power
“Pima County’s partnership with American Battery Factory signifies a high return on investment made by the County and taxpayers 10 years ago when the Board took positive steps to acquire the Aerospace Research Campus.”
– Sharon Bronson Supervisor Pima County, District 3

continued from page 70

properties in the Tucson area and Oro Valley totaling nearly 1 million square feet, with most of it leased. Schnitzer “made investments for multiple reasons,” Sutherland said. “There’s obviously a quality of life you can have in Arizona. There’s a fantastic economic development effort in Sun Corridor Inc. and great governmental organizations that assist with drawing businesses to Tucson.”

He also pointed out that Interstate 10 and its access to California and parts east is a built-in advantage that weighs heavily on industrial real estate decisions.

“We’ve been able to take calculated risks in Tucson on a spec basis and be very successful,” Sutherland said. “The population growth of Tucson and the growth of the UA got to the point where the feedback was getting to the development community that Tucson was ripe for larger, newer commercial developments.”

Not surprisingly, in the competition to attract companies, addressing recent

negative media attention, such as water availability and infrastructure, is a constant issue for the region, Snell said.

The low water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell along the Colorado River are highly visible ammunition for competing regions to claim that water –or a lack of it – makes Arizona a place to avoid for companies looking for an area to grow.

adequate supplies,” Snell said. “But unfortunately, we’re having to address this all the time. I think our region has done very, very well, and we’ve long recognized how important water is.”

Focus on Competitiveness

One of the main ways Sun Corridor Inc. leadership is forging the future is a determination to zero in on where the work, the time and the resources need to be deployed. Sun Corridor Inc. is embarking on a detailed analysis to measure the region on all major economic competitiveness topics.

“In order to forge the future, we have to deeply understand what it takes to compete,” Snell said.

“We are going to push out a pretty big competitive analysis that says, ‘Here are the gaps. We have to fix these things immediately,’ ” said Snell. “I think it’s needed right now because we’re at an inflection point in this region. We don’t want to see any interest slow down for issues we can fix.”

“I reassure companies and we show them through the assured 100-year water supply program that we have

72 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“A community’s ability to attract talent absolutely defines wins and losses.”
– Joe Snell President & CEO Sun Corridor Inc.
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 73

Thrive in Tucson Talent Attraction Campaign Launches

The campaign, which showcases Southern Arizona’s unparalleled quality of life, promotes the desert lifestyle, rankings, industry strengths, economy, notable employ ers, education and other attributes of the 33rd largest U.S. cit y. The campaign is a partnership between Sun Corridor Inc., Visit Tucson and Pima County.

The centerpiece website,, also high lights some of the region’s coveted statistics:

u 350+ days of sunshine per year

u 4 mountain ranges for hiking, jogging, rock climbing, horseback riding and more

u 37,000 acres of parkland for exploring

u 40+ golf courses

u 800 miles of bike paths

The website can also help human resources profession als in their recruitment efforts.

In addition to, new “Thrive In Tucson”-themed social media channels are also live on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. New influencer campaigns and digital advertising have also launched.

Sun Corridor Inc. Senior VP Laura Shaw notes that tal ent often turns to media, rankings and social media to find out about regions to move to.

What Can You Do to Support The Thrive in Tucson Campaign?

u Like and follow social media

u Forward postings and links to your professional net works, friends, clients and partners and encourage them to engage and follow

u Share your own story/perspective about why Tucson and Southern Arizona are great places to live and work

u Have your HR team post campaign buttons on your web site with link to Thrive site and social channels

u Be an ambassador for Southern Arizona

74 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizECONOMY

My initial decision to stay in Tucson came from a career opportunity that showed me the potential for success in wealth management and philanthropy. Tucson is the type of city that allows you to grow professionally while remaining one introduction away from the CEOs who help our business community thrive. My reasons for staying in Tucson have sown in other directions over time. I met my fiancée, Danielle Cesanek, a few years ago. Watching her career as a principal ballerina with Ballet Tucson flourish has helped me appreciate Tucson’s arts nonprofits. As we look toward our future, we envision raising a family, giving back, and cultivating our personal and professional lives in Tucson.

− Gustavo Corte, RBC Wealth Management

My decision to relocate to Tucson was due to a career opportunity that allowed me to transition from the automotive industry to the aerospace and defense industry. Over the years, I’ve found that Tucson is a thriving metropolis of natural beauty, abundance of sunshine and a rich culture that appeals to the personal and professional side of me. From the beautiful starry night skies to the rugged desert landscape to the artsy communities rich with history to a technology hub in the making, Tucson is a hidden gem that is vibrant in its own right. I stay because I found community, connection and purpose. My advice to newcomers is to immerse yourself in all the city has to offer and you will gain an appreciation just as I have over the years.

− Rukiya Higgins, Raytheon

Like many, I came to Tucson for school. The University of Arizona was just far enough from home to make me feel independent, but close enough, just in case I had to go home to Scottsdale. The reason I choose to stay in Tucson to this day is because of the opportunities it has afforded me for personal and professional growth, as well as the potential that I know this region has. I cannot wait to see more of this potential realized.

Tucson is a city with an identity − one that exudes its history, arts and culture. Every day Tucson inspires me with its natural beauty, its dining and entertainment options and its ability to welcome and celebrate people from a diverse array of backgrounds. It’s an absolute honor to be able to work for and promote a city and region with such commitment to inclusion and equity in all aspects of daily life.

− Barbra Coffee, City of Tucson

“ “ “ “ ” ” ” ” Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 75

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

This community has really worked to cultivate a collaborative and innovative spirit. We know that site selectors and their clients are very concerned when they find polarizing divisions in a community, whether they’re rooted in territory or politics, because they inevitably get in the way of finding solutions. I think it’s evident that we have developed a clear partnership mindset that helps us all pull together in one direction with a focus on what it’s going to take to make projects happen.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

We’ve long been known for aerospace, biotech and logistics, among other areas. I’m happy to see that we’re now attracting employers focused on clean-energy technology. TEP is a leader in the transition to cleaner energy resources, so we appreciate opportunities to work with other companies that are dedicated to protecting our planet. It’s been promising to see new jobs coming into the region to support our expanding use of batteries, electric vehicles and renewable energy. These large investments validate that we are a competitive region with valued assets and a collaborative approach to getting projects across the finish line.


Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

I’m glad that our economic development efforts are becoming more holistic and inclusive and that we’re thinking more deeply about ways that everyone can participate in opportunities to thrive. These kinds of conversations didn’t always happen. But now, when a project comes in, we routinely discuss the best ways to engage with the community and be good partners and neighbors. We want to make sure that everyone, including historically underserved areas, can benefit from our economic development efforts. The reason we seek strong local growth and a healthy investment climate is to create more good jobs and a better quality of life – for everyone.

76 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. LEADERSHIP

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

I would say the best part of doing business in Southern Arizona is the sense of collaboration and focus making our community better together. There is a spirit of community that distinguishes Tucson, it almost tricks us into thinking it’s a small town when it’s so much more – it’s world-class academic research, a vibrant sense of innovation and entrepreneurship, established, legacy companies that are dedicated small business owners. And, then there is the weather. You can’t beat winters in Southern Arizona.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on-site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

We are focused on making healthcare easier to access, patient-focused and available closer to where people live and work. For businesses, this means their employees should be able to quickly access high-quality healthcare for their whole family. Tucson also leads the way in many key health indicators, including access to parks and outdoor activities where the community can be active and improve their long-term health.



Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Tucson is an attractive place for new industry, technology and innovation, and having a world-class university in the center of our city continues to help generate new ideas, pioneering research and a magnet for talent. I continue to be excited about the growth of the healthcare and biotech industry here, including work done at the UA Tech Parks and elsewhere, as we continue to focus on creative and innovative ways to provide more access for our community. This impacts everyone from those looking for careers in healthcare to people who need a primary-care provider or an emergency visit.

78 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. LEADERSHIP

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

The best part of doing business in Tucson is how closely connected and friendly the community is. At Sun Corridor Inc., we continue to hear from our prospects plus newly recruited members of our business community that with just a phone call or two they can easily connect with decision makers; whether it’s leaders of our business community, members of any level of government or with our highly acclaimed research and education institutions.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

One of the results of current domestic and international central banks’ monetary policy being focused on bringing inflation under control is that the funding of capital investment has become more costly. Decision makers are now more focused on their projected returns on investment. This in turn, I believe, has made the site selection and expansion decision process place more emphasis on how quickly the business can profitably ramp up. A key factor in ramping up is whether critical team members are willing to make a move to a new community. Quality of life with an attractive cost of living are significant drivers in that decision process. We all know that Southern Arizona is a very attractive region when looking at those two factors. Plus, our community with its existing highly skilled and educated labor force and its ability to expand its workforce via our highly acclaimed university and community college is very compelling.


Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Southern Arizona’s diverse industry sectors including aerospace and defense, bioscience, healthcare, information technology, mineral and agriculture technology, tourism and logistics will continue to be key economic drivers Our diverse economy combined with its unique biodiverse open space, entrepreneurial spirit, highly acclaimed higher education and research institutions plus it’s rich cultural amenities will continue to be very attractive to employers and employees. Southern Arizona has a very bright future.

80 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. LEADERSHIP

Name something that sets the region apart and that is a priority for site selectors.

What sets us apart are innovative and award-winning institutions of higher learning. The combined outputs of the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Pima Community College have separated us from other regions. Without them, I don’t know how we’d be in the game. I think the University of Arizona and Pima Community College are the difference-makers, and so is ASU with what they’re doing down here. We’re spending a lot of time with our talent attraction campaign, Thrive in Tucson. We’re going to continue to work with the institutions of higher learning because it’s all about talent. We’re going to build on that.

With so many factors that site selectors look at when they’re examining various communities, how does Sun Corridor Inc. zero in on where it’s going to focus its efforts?

We follow a very specific strategic plan with specific targets where we know we can win. That’s part of it, having a good understanding of what the market is and what drivers we have and what type of talent will come in because of those drivers. Our team is constantly in contact with site selectors to determine the drivers. We’re taking our talent campaign, Thrive in Tucson, and making it industry-specific and I think that has a lot of potential. For example, if we have a shortage of nurses, we are going to focus on healthcare and nursing. I’m excited about that because that approach has the potential to be a real game-changer.

Two of the long-standing factors that make a region competitive or not are collaboration among local business leaders and t he affordability of a community. Rate the region on those factors.

I think we really operate well regionally and that’s important. We’re on the same page, and we hear it over and over. We strengthened that last year from an effort we launched in creating a set of guidelines that we could all work with. We had all the jurisdictions sign off and work cooperatively. It might not sound like a lot, but to get everybody to sign off on that was important.

Affordability is a very important asset for us. We’re still one of the most affordable markets in the country both in commercial real estate and residential real estate. As much as we like to think it’s increased, it’s still cheaper than most everywhere else for people that companies hire who can come in and buy a home at a reasonable price.

82 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. LEADERSHIP

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

With Chicanos Por La Causa nonprofit and for-profit operations throughout Arizona, as well as Nevada, Texas and California, we understand that every region is different both in attributes and opportunities. If I were to single out the best part about doing business here is the willingness by those who are already here – both newcomers and long-timers – to do business with like-minded individuals, companies and nonprofits to build something special here. In most places, you enter an already-framed scenario with a certain set of pre-existing rules, restrictions and staked-out territories. Here, the sky is the limit and collaboration is the lay of the land. Everything is wide open to possibilities, innovation and imagination. And there is a support base here ready to help those ideas become reality.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The Tucson sector is the gateway to Mexico for import and export and transport east, west, north and south. Our proximity to Mexico is such a big plus, with our neighbor to the south being the 15th largest economy in the world. We have a long historical and cultural connection to Mexico, with Arizona being one of the eight U.S. states that make up three-quarters of the U.S. Latino population. As stated again and again, we have the workforce. But, to be frank, we must be better adept at developing that workforce, including among Latinos, and we’re striving to do so. Our higher education system consistently scores well on innovation and in preparing graduates for

the future. Arizona is still the new frontier, only this time it’s in technology and supply chain. But we also know that quality of life is a main factor in businesses and industry deciding whether to move here. There is a need for more affordable housing. Everybody from the governor on down is looking at ways to increase affordable housing, including neighborhoods and communities that support our new workforce.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

We have something special here, and we know it. Those who have lived here for generations know it. Everyone who has moved here in recent years knows it. We just need to make sure more businesses and industries know it, too, as markets continue to grow, business alliances are formed, and more and more people relocate here for the quality of life. Arizona is a great place to do business. Government, business and community leaders are aligned to ensure Arizona’s future of sustainability, adaptability and livability. We know we can keep Arizona’s natural beauty intact by attracting those who see what we see – a special place today that is open for an even better world tomorrow.

84 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Tucson is a vibrant and growing city. With a diverse and rich business community, the Tucson International Airport (TUS) plays a significant role in our city’s ability to attract and retain businesses. It is conveniently located and extremely easy to use with a growing list of air service offerings and convenient amenities like affordable parking just outside the terminal doors and shorter lines for check-in and security. When you have a convenient airport with 60 daily flights and access to over 300 worldwide destinations, a thriving airport makes Tucson the perfect place to do business.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

TUS has recovered from the COVID pandemic at a rate that far exceeds the national average of comparably sized airports, and will surpass pre-pandemic passenger levels in the fourth quarter of 2023. The ability of our airport to fully recover so quickly in such a competitive landscape speaks to the importance of our community to the airlines that serve Tucson. With exciting new and returning nonstop flights to Orange County, Calif., Everett, Wash., and Portland, Ore., the trends are positive. As many cities struggle to regain air service, TUS has proven to be a highly desirable market as airlines continue to invest in new routes to our city.



Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

As an $8.3-billion economic engine, the airport system, which consists of Tucson International Airport and Ryan Field, plays a part in the success of the region. One major economic driver for the region is airline service to our community. Beyond the restoration of flights lost during the pandemic, we have added new routes and additional flights to serve the needs of southern Arizona. It is the spirit of partnership and collaboration with the airlines that makes us feel so optimistic about the future.

This collaboration and support have allowed the airport to aggressively work on the largest safety project in its history, and to transform the airfield to modern standards and add capacity with parallel runways that will serve commercial, military and general aviation aircraft for decades to come. In addition, with airline support, we have developed a terminal concept that reimagines the existing post-security layout and gate footprint from 20 gates to as many as 35 gates. The total investment in these projects is over $1 billion.

In addition, there is airport land available to grow non-aeronautical revenue for the airport system, which supports business growth and the goals of the community. Working in partnership with the FAA, we have cleared regulatory processes on some land parcels, which allow land development to begin.


If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

The best part of doing business in Pima County is the clear coordination among Pima County and our regional partners. These efforts have led to newly activated, shovel-ready sites that allow for speedy development timelines for companies looking at our region. This, in addition to expedited County permitting processes, and a host of local incentives, business support services, a highly skilled and trained workforce, as well as an overall high quality of life, has created a highly desirable and competitive business ecosystem for companies to locate and grow here.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Pima County has seen an emergence in certain types of industry looking at our region. Due in part to the availability of developable land, our recent announcement of attracting American Battery Factory, and multiple factors spurring development, we have seen an increase in battery and energyrelated industries, including battery, energy, semiconductor and photovoltaic manufacturing. We have also seen an uptick in automotive manufacturing opportunities, as well as some health and health-innovation companies. Because of the proliferation of these types of opportunities, we have seen a steady and consistent rise in the number of site selectors looking at Pima County, not only for these industries, but upstream and downstream industries directly connected to them.




Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

I am most optimistic about our potential. We collaborate and strategize with our state and regional partners to ensure we are placing Pima County at the forefront of consideration for economic development projects. These collaborations center around infrastructure development, competitiveness, land entitlements and zoning, talent attraction, workforce development, and more, all of which contribute to Pima County competing on a global scale to attract jobs and investment in our community.

88 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Tucson and Southern Arizona have a great deal to offer to both new and established industries. In addition to its outstanding residents, stunning natural beauty and engaged community, the best part of doing business in this region is its prime location. The area is conveniently located between prolific centers of trade and manufacturing. It boasts access to a diverse pipeline of regional talent, sits in close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, and has the capacity to expand and innovate around established industries, such as defense, aerospace, renewable energy, optics and natural resources.

Add to that, Tucson sits at one end of Arizona’s “Sun Corridor,” one of America’s top 20 fast-growing “megapolitan” areas that is anticipated to create new and significant opportunities for Southern Arizona’s long-term economic health.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Arizona State University is charged with meeting the evergrowing demand for higher education, which is why we are focused on advancing new programs, pathways and technologies that allow us to meet learners where they are. With more people of all ages looking to augment their knowledge, ASU’s Learning Enterprise is dedicated to providing learners with access to all ASU has to offer, regardless of age, geographic location or discipline, and we are excited to provide leading-edge education and reskilling opportunities to all who want them.

Through these efforts and others, ASU is advancing its im-

pact by growing the Arizona workforce and research leadership in critical regional industries. In addition to expanding our offerings to meet the needs of 21st-century learners, we are perpetually re-evaluating social needs at every level to be of greater service. At present, we are focusing significant efforts to align with strategic federal, state and industry interests related to microelectronics, advanced manufacturing, health and biomedical innovation, sustainability and space exploration.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

I am most optimistic about Arizona’s enduring pioneering spirit, which is what drew me here more than 20 years ago and which has enabled our comprehensive redesign of ASU as a National Service University prototype. Not every region embraces new ideas, creative opportunities and unique partnerships the way Arizona does. I am encouraged by the heightened level of collaboration in Southern Arizona and across the state between an increasingly large pool of public, private and inter-governmental entities who are interested in driving forward bolder and broader visions of success. This open-minded approach to innovation has helped us to position ASU as a problem-solving, higher-education leader, and it has the tremendous potential to do the same for the health and prosperity of our region.




If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Southern Arizona has a great business environment that I am proud to be a part of. Pima Community College has a track record of working with Sun Corridor Inc., Southern Arizona Leadership Council, our local Workforce Development Board and other economic development organizations to help businesses nurture a talented, diverse and highly skilled workforce for their industries. Our PCC Workforce Development team is industry-focused and is in the practice of saying “yes” to meet the needs of business and industry partners.

Area businesses benefit from a strong education talent pipeline that includes Pima Community College, Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED) and the University of Arizona. We partner with UArizona on grants in manufacturing, semiconductors and economic development. We enjoy a strong transfer partnership – 58% of students who transfer to UArizona come from Pima.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Technology advancements are rapidly reshaping the job market and the skills that employers seek. As the region’s community college, PCC aligns curriculum, equipment and facilities in our Centers of Excellence to support the evolving needs of business and industry. We are taking a holistic lifelong learning approach to training and upskilling by focusing on technical competencies, industry-recognized credentials and 21st-century skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and creativity.

In addition to offering traditional certificates and degrees, PCC is advancing new models to support rapid entry into job training and career advancement. Models include accelerated micropathways − branded as PimaFastTrack − and Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs supporting learners who need support with basic skills, English language acquisition or high school equivalency attainment. These models align with primary industry sectors such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing and automotive and aviation.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Any employer seeking to expand or relocate needs a steady supply of skilled workers, and I am optimistic that PCC can continue to enhance its role in the region’s economic development by providing education and training assets that are unparalleled in the region. We are the only entity with the capacity to supply learning at scale to workers throughout their lifetime, and we are experienced in providing customized solutions for business and industry.

Perhaps most importantly, Pima College is committed to innovation. Our newly completed Advanced Manufacturing Building at our Applied Technology Center of Excellence at Downtown Campus is one example of a state-of-the-art facility designed to meet the specific needs of our business community. PCC offers the most current training and certifications, and learners are able to enter the workforce with sought-after skills that benefit industry and promote economic growth of the region.




If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

The best part of doing business in Southern Arizona is our community and the existing infrastructure where education and innovation fuel the economy. Our community includes a top-ranked research university that works in partnership with two state-of-the-art academic medical centers, and both are committed to education and advanced training and learning. Our community also includes a diverse population, a beautiful stable climate and environment to work and play, the can-do attitude of our business and political leaders, and the shared commitment to keep focused on growth and flourishing economically and socially. This combination of elements has earned our community accolades such as being named the United States’ first UNESCO City of Gastronomy, being named as one of Time’s World’s Greatest Places, recognition as one of the top five areas for entrepreneurs, recognition in new technological markets, and the accolades keep coming which demonstrate endless possibilities for anyone looking to do business in Southern Arizona.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The healthcare industry is growing and needs to grow to be able to keep up with the patient care demands of our growing population. This growth represents opportunity. Some of the highest paying jobs are in healthcare and there is an abundance of business opportunities within healthcare tied to innovation and workforce development. This includes innova-

tion in a variety of related fields including the bioscience field, diagnostic field, and medical device field. The partnership between the University of Arizona and Banner – Academic Medicine is a good example of how industry and education can create growth and industry opportunities. Banner and UArizona have joined together and have efforts aimed at addressing the physician shortage, ensuring patient care excellence, and expanding healthcare research and innovation. By leveraging our strengths and working together, we can meet consumer healthcare demand now and in the future, while also creating an educated workforce ready to advance the bioscience or healthcare industry.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

The technological innovation that has transpired within the last decade has been impactful and gives me optimism for endless opportunities that can advance our economic development. For example, genomics and mRNA science can lead to cures for illnesses and is already creating a boom in novel therapy development as we all witnessed and experienced with the development of the COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare has gone digital, consumers have readily adapted to its use, and telemedicine is here to stay. Southern Arizona’s commitment to higher education, research, training and workforce development ensures a bright future for entrepreneurial industries willing to harness these innovations and establish or grow a business in Southern Arizona.


If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

We have found Tucson to be a great place for our business thanks to strong partnerships across industry, academia and government.

Many of our programs rely on local businesses – we work with close to 200 suppliers in Tucson and 500 throughout Arizona – and these partners play a crucial role in our success. We’re helping them build their business and connections as well, so it’s a mutual partnership.

We’re also connecting with academia to advance our technologies and grow the next generation of our global workforce. We are very fortunate to have the University of Arizona, one of the top research universities in the country, as well as Pima Community College and other outstanding educational institutions, like Pima JTED in our backyard. We collaborate with these institutions to support research, manufacturing, and the development and advancement of next-generation technologies.

Another great part of doing business here is the strong support from local and state government. Our elected officials work to create an environment where all businesses can flourish, and that has helped promote economic development in the state. By investing in workforce development, education and infrastructure, the state enables companies like ours to grow.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The aerospace and defense industry is experiencing tremendous growth. Consequently, there is a huge demand for entryand mid-level engineering professionals.


At the same time, Tucson is becoming well-known as an attractive place for aerospace, as it has become home to the fifthhighest concentration of aerospace and defense employees in the country. The climate and proximity to several military installations make Tucson a natural fit for defense manufacturers. The competitive need for skilled labor, both advanceddegree and vocational, makes investment and partnerships in our educational system even more critical.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

The continued growth and investment in UArizona, along with our K-12 system, Pima Community College, and Pima JTED, is the cornerstone for Tucson’s future viability. As Raytheon and other companies continue to expand, we are only successful when we have a strong talent pool available.

The Interstate10 expansion will also be very important to ensure a reliable supply chain, as well as employee and product movement. The interstate is a critical lifeline for both our staff as well as materials, so anything we can do to improve travel reliability is a win.

Finally, Raytheon and large manufacturers throughout Arizona have gone to great lengths to reduce our overall carbon footprint. Our facilities team is continuously investing in our campus to reduce our water usage and increase our renewable energy mix.


If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

We have done a good job of diversifying our local economy. We have major players in aerospace and defense, transportation, logistics, diagnostics, healthcare, emerging technologies, battery manufacturing, just to name a few. We have a Research 1 university, a large community college system and a variety of high achieving charter and public schools. Our government sector is also a large business opportunity, and we can boast one of the largest Air Force bases in the U.S. All of these are areas of opportunity for businesses of all sizes.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Cox Communications has a symmetrical, multi-gig fiberpowered network that serves 95% of Tucson. We are focused on building fiber deeper into our network to keep our system fast and reliable. We have invested over $15 billion into our fiber backbone, and we are committed to keeping Tucson and the region competitive.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

We have a track record of success recruiting, growing and retaining businesses. We have a professional and experienced economic development organization, Sun Corridor Inc., that is laser focused on bringing opportunities to the region. We will continue to be relentless in our effort to diversify our economy by targeting business sectors that will enhance our existing and emerging industry clusters. We have a business community that is unified and supports the region’s economic goals.

98 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE


If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Customer loyalty. Although we are over 1 million people now, Tucson behaves like a small town towards its business colleagues. Restaurants, grocery stores, auto mechanics, auto dealers, appliance dealers, dry cleaners and entertainment venues thrive through word of mouth advertising, fierce customer loyalty and a neighborhood friendliness like you would see in a small town. Major employers here are heroic and are placed around a very grateful group of citizens that are appreciative of larger employers, especially those that relocate here. Companies like Caterpillar, Amazon, Home Goods, American Battery Factory, Roche and Raytheon are iconic in Tucson and, moreover, famous. If Caterpillar had relocated to Phoenix or Denver the company would hardly be noticed. Tucson, as a whole, celebrates these competitive victories, and relocated companies will tell you how welcomed they are when employees begin to arrive.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Tucson is the next Austin. Tucson is now No. 1 in the U.S. for tech job growth. Dozens of startup companies, new venture capital, spinout companies from the University of Arizona, big company staff creating entrepreneurial opportunities, a Top 5 downtown, a top music scene and a world renown food destination have all emerged just in the last five years. Post-COVID, Tucson is the recipient of young people bailing from the big cities, leaving toxic environments like San Francisco, Portland

and Seattle. Urban Tucson has seen thousands of new apartments, 80 new restaurants, new hotels, new concert venues and a modern streetcar. While desert dwellers love their space, Tucson has been surprised by the growth of its urban core. It doesn’t hurt that our mean temperature is 73.3 degrees and we enjoy a 100-year supply of pure, underground water. While Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles are reeling from the drought, Tucson has returned our Colorado River allotment to help our water starved neighbors to the north.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Tucson is a boom town. Post-COVID, Tucson has seen significant increases in people moving to the region, especially from California. What used to be a sleepy rodeo town, dependent on tourism, is now a hip, youthful, urban region but with a nearby desert, and creating opportunity across every metric. This means available talent at every level from engineers to factory workers. Tucson can now meet the hiring demands of any employer, with a lifestyle second to none − no hurricanes, no tornados, no floods, no drought issues and, oh yes, no mosquitoes. Answer this question: Why would you want to live and work anyplace else?

100 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 101

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

When a company commits to Southern Arizona, they are going to feel the love. We throw our support behind the companies that choose our community. This support comes from municipal agencies, elected officials, the business community, and even the local population. One of my favorite stories about Caterpillar moving to town was how they described being embraced by the community. Caterpillar employees displaying the company logo would talk about getting stopped in the grocery store just to be asked how they were liking the area. People in the region understand and appreciate the positive economic impact companies make when they choose Southern Arizona.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The Tucson region has been blessed with many substantial construction and infrastructure projects over the last decade. This surge of significant projects over the last several years has equipped our workforce to deal with buildings that are larger and more complex. This reaches from general contractors all the way down to our subcontracting community and our key suppliers. With the concentration of advanced technology and aerospace projects in the region the work we have accomplished is very advanced. If you have a big project, chances are we have built something here similar to the size and complexity you are contemplating. Our industry is poised to meet the needs of companies looking to expand.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Collaboration with local government continues to be a bright spot as we look to bring companies into the region. Everyone is willing to put in the work to make new and expanding companies successful. There have also been tremendous efforts by both the University of Arizona and Pima Community college to adapt their education curriculums to meet the needs of companies so that the pipeline of available employees is strong. It is also a great place to live, and a place people want to be. Between the food, the scenery, the culture and the sunshine the quality of life in Southern Arizona is incredible. All that and we are still more affordable than many other areas. The combination of community support and the inherent benefits of living in this region make me optimistic for future of economic development.

102 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 103

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Tucson is recognized as a national leader in aerospace and defense, renewable energy, and has unique resources that make it an ideal place to operate. With a high concentration of aerospace industries, outstanding college and university educational programs to support engineering and technical needs, along with three nearby military bases, employers have a wealth of skilled personnel from which to choose.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The future of aerospace is filled with innovations such as alternative biofuels to reduce carbon footprint, electric propulsion, Artificial Intelligence, autonomous flight systems, utilization of new materials, and virtual reality, to name only a few. These innovations will fuel new and additional educational requirements for our future workforce. Tucson is well poised to accommodate and promote these new technologies due to its high number of emerging tech companies, its established aerospace sector, along with its excellent educational institutions.


Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Offering an outstanding quality of life along with a relatively low cost of living, manufacturers are well poised to attract employees of the future looking for opportunities in varied sectors. With easy access to Mexico, several major interstates linking Tucson with Phoenix and major U.S. hubs, along with a growing international airport, the region is well positioned to engage in local and international trade in the coming future.

104 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 105

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

As a native, I have watched Tucson grow in many different ways. However, with that growth what has not changed is the strong sense of community among the people. When people come to call Tucson home, they become part of a community eager to support neighbors, local businesses and community institutions. That culture has allowed the Arizona Air National Guard to thrive over its nearly 70 years in Tucson and remain a pillar of dependable revenue to the local economy. It certainly doesn’t hurt that we are able to enjoy the outdoors nearly yearround with clear skies, temperate weather and natural backdrops unlike anywhere else in the country. Tucson is truly a special place with gracious people.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The U.S. military has maintained a strong presence in Southern Arizona since the 1950s, and as the Morris Air National Guard Base and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base grow and evolve, our community partnerships continue to be critical for both homeland and global defense. Here at the 162nd Wing, we continue to train the world’s greatest F-16 pilots critical to the defense of the U.S. and our international partners, soon to include Ukraine. Our wing will also continue to support emerging missions with the MQ-9 Reaper in overseas contingency operations from DM. Further, DM will be ushering in a new mission and assets under the Special Operations realm in the coming years. In a 2014 survey, the Military Af-




fairs Committee estimated the bases’ local economic impact to be $383 million annually, and given our sustained foothold in the region, that contribution should continue well into the future.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

I’ve always known Tucson to be a rich, welcoming and diverse community, but our charming town has been making big city moves that are putting us on the map. We are increasingly recognized as an attractive destination for young professionals, start-up companies, innovation centers, tech industry and more, and our long-standing institutions play a big role in that. We have a world-class institution of higher education at the University of Arizona, attracting innovative minds and research to our region. And we have Pima Community College driving initiatives like its Aviation Technology Program to create opportunities for Tucsonans to attain sustainable, relevant careers and grow industries in our own backyard. Tucson has always been an incredible place to live, but now more people know it, and they’re bringing fresh ideas with them, ensuring our community thrives.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 107

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Southern Arizona is an incredible place for business with immense potential for growth. The University of Arizona has a proud history of partnering with local, regional and international businesses to benefit Arizona residents, and I am certain that any company seeking a place to innovate and grow will find great success in our state. The University’s partnerships with businesses include potentially offering certificate programs for our industry partner’s employees, transforming University research and innovation into deliverable products and collaborative projects with industry, and providing rich cultural resources that enhance the quality of life for companies and their employees who are looking for a rich environment to live, work and grow.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

One trend I have noticed begins with our students, who are deeply invested in creating a sustainable future. Future business leaders will need to think about how their companies steward our natural resources and the environment and be part of the sustainable future our students are trying to build. At the University of Arizona, we are proud to partner with local businesses in our sustainability efforts, like the large-scale renewable energy agreement between the University and Tucson Electric Power, which is the largest utility-university renewable energy partnership in North America.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

I am optimistic when I see our students. They are our future entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators. Our graduates are among the world’s best in every area of education and training, and with University of Arizona alumni throughout our great state, our contributions to the state’s high-tech workforce are a point of pride. And our world-renowned faculty are also a reason to be optimistic – our faculty members work every day on improving the world around us, teaching the next generation, and developing innovative solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. Our students work with our outstanding faculty, and they gain extensive experience in real-world applications of their knowledge, so they graduate ready to make a strong mark in the economic development of our region.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 109

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

With our beautiful surroundings, thousands of years of history, heritage and culture, and commitment to innovation, Tucson is a unique city to do business. Our desert environment offers sunshine and natural beauty for hiking, biking, and year-round outdoor activities. We are a UNESCO City of Gastronomy with diverse food businesses everywhere. As a city, we pride ourselves on supporting local and legacy businesses that contribute to Tucson’s history and sense of place.

Recent announcements in clean energy include American Battery Factory locating here. It will break ground in October on its first battery cell gigafactory in the U.S. This will make it the country’s largest manufacturing site for the production of lithium iron phosphate battery cells, a $1.2 billion project. Our collaboration between the City of Tucson, Pima County, Sun Corridor Inc. and the Arizona Commerce Authority shows how we are coming together to pave the way for a project of this scale to move forward.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Tucson is a desert city that lives its values. Our recently adopted Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, Tucson Resilient Together and our EV Readiness Roadmap demonstrate our commitment to creating the green jobs of the future. This gives companies whose values align with ours the confidence to expand and locate here.


I have always said that public infrastructure brings private investment. Local government continues to be an important partner in attracting and retaining industries. This is why I have been working hard as Mayor to successfully bring federal dollars home to Tucson to invest in our infrastructure.

When I meet with CEOs and site selectors, I talk with them about the City’s strategic action plans and how we are using them to guide our work. These include the Housing Affordability Strategy for Tucson, Move Tucson, our climate action plan − Tucson Resilient Together, the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Tucson.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

The City of Tucson is doing a great job telling the story of small business programs and how we are investing in our industry clusters in collaboration with regional partners like Pima County and Sun Corridor Inc. The City of Tucson recently led a regional application for a federal EDA Tech Hubs grant that focuses on battery development and green jobs. In it we cited American Battery Factory coming to Tucson and Sion Power’s expansion, both of which are showing us that there is opportunity and job creation in the battery development and clean energy sector.

At the same time, we are continuing to prioritize programs and opportunities for small businesses: they are the lifeblood of our economy.



If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

The ease of doing business in Tucson is a standout feature. The local government and regulatory bodies have consistently demonstrated a commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment. With streamlined permitting processes, a focus on reducing bureaucratic hurdles, and incentives for business growth, Tucson has earned its reputation as a welcoming city for entrepreneurs and corporations alike.

Moreover, the natural environment in Tucson adds to its appeal. The region boasts stunning landscapes, from the iconic saguaro cacti to the breathtaking vistas of the Sonoran Desert. This not only provides a beautiful backdrop for businesses but also contributes to a high quality of life for employees.

One aspect that sets Tucson apart is its small-town feel, despite being a city with a growing economy. Tucson retains a sense of community that can be hard to find in larger urban centers. This creates a supportive atmosphere for businesses, where networking and building relationships come naturally.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

The insurance industry is undergoing a profound transformation driven by the impact of climate change. One of the emerging trends in our industry is the increasing prevalence of extreme weather events due to climate change. Tucson, like many regions, is not immune to the effects of climate change, with the potential for catastrophic events. These events have a direct impact on the insurance market, leading to increased claims and losses for insurance carriers.

It’s important to note that Tucson’s unique geographic advantages make it an attractive destination for insurance companies and their clients. The region enjoys a relatively low risk of natural disasters compared to many other parts of the country. Site selectors should recognize this as a substantial advantage when considering Tucson as a hub for insurance operations.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Tucson has a strong and growing talent pool. The presence of the University of Arizona and other educational institutions continually supplies the region with a diverse and skilled workforce. As the city expands its focus on innovation and technology, this talent pool will be a valuable resource for businesses looking to stay on the cutting edge of their respective industries.

Additionally, Tucson’s strategic location as a gateway to both the U.S. and Mexican markets positions it favorably for trade and commerce. Furthermore, the city’s commitment to sustainable practices and renewable energy sources aligns with global trends towards environmental responsibility

Lastly, the spirit of collaboration among local businesses and organizations is a driving force behind Tucson’s economic growth. The region’s business community actively engages in partnerships, innovation clusters, and networking events that foster entrepreneurship and economic development.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 111 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

Arizona offers job and investment incentives or tax credits, entitled sites with freeway access, proximity to California and Mexico, low chance of business interruption from natural disasters or utilities, a strong inland port with more activity in its future from things like the “Sonoran Corridor,” a growing labor force, below-average cost of living, and one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Global logistics, the connection between where products are made and consumers, are changing to Tucson’s benefit. Many companies want their production to be closer, and Mexico, which became the top overall U.S. trading partner in 2023, offers an alternative to manufacturing in countries such as China. In addition, U.S. port demand, which the lion’s share of imports go through, is changing. A product that typically goes through Los Angeles may end up in Houston or Miami instead, but the demand for that product out west still needs to be met, and Tucson’s position on Interstate 10, among other factors, makes it a strong candidate to help businesses meet that demand.


Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

This is a friendly and entrepreneurial community with a rich cultural heritage. A quickly growing population, fantastic quality of life. The University of Arizona’s 40,000+ students also help immensely. I am most optimistic that this combination will generate economic development in diverse areas that even the financial pundits do not see. Sun Corridor Inc.’s pro-active approach with businesses looking at Tucson as an alternative is also a huge benefit and provides increased changes for net migration of new companies relocating to the area.

112 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE

If you were to be asked by a site selector, what is the best part of doing business in Tucson, what are the areas you would highlight?

One of Arizona’s key economic development strengths lies in our team-centered approach. Arizona brings all partners to the table – state and local economic development agencies, utilities, universities and community colleges, workforce development leaders, and more – to streamline the site selection process. Nobody does this better than Arizona.

With that in mind, we are incredibly grateful to all our local partners, including Sun Corridor Inc., Pima County and the City of Tucson. Working together, we’ve been able to win outstanding projects that are bringing good jobs and high-tech companies to Southern Arizona.

Companies also prefer to do business in Arizona because we offer a premier business environment. This includes our skilled and growing workforce, modern transportation infrastructure, streamlined-regulatory structure, and world-class educational institutions.

What are some of the emerging trends in your industry that could have an impact locally on site selectors looking at the Tucson region?

Across our projects, we’re seeing companies place high consideration on workforce. Industries are prioritizing markets that can support ambitious hiring goals as well as partnering to train new workers.

In this area, Arizona stands out as a leader. For example, Pima Community College celebrated the completion of its $15 million Aviation Technology Center expansion in October 2022, enabling PCC to train double the number of students,

training hundreds for jobs in Southern Arizona’s aerospace industry. In addition, Pima Community College celebrated the grand opening of its $35 million Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence in spring 2023 with equipment for manufacturing, technology, robotics, optics and more, training students for the high-tech jobs.

The University of Arizona recently celebrated the grand opening of its new $85 million Applied Research Building in spring 2023. The facility will house state-of-the-art technologies to support scientific innovation, furthering the region’s reputation as a biotechnology epicenter.

Aside from the areas you would highlight to a site selector, what are you most optimistic about for the future economic development in the region?

Southern Arizona has emerged as a leader in advanced industries such as aerospace and defense, battery, biotech, optics, and more. Companies including American Battery Factory, Sion Power, EVelution Energy,, PowerPhotonic and Steel Jupiter have announced plans to establish or expand operations in Southern Arizona, building on the region’s economic momentum.

When one part of the state experiences growth, it often leads to expansions elsewhere. For example, Pinal County is attracting numerous semiconductor suppliers to support fab operations around the Phoenix metro area. Likewise, Arizona is developing a robust battery ecosystem, with manufacturing, recycling, and materials processing operations across Southern Arizona and beyond. I’m excited about the growth of these industry ecosystems, which promise to build additional synergies between Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 113 SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHAIRMAN’S CIRCLE

Travis Anderton

Vice President, Sterilization -  Global Supply Chain, BD

BD is one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world and is advancing health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. The company develops innovative technology, services and solutions that help advance both clinical therapy for patients and clinical process for health care providers.

BD has 77,000 employees and a presence in virtually every country around the world to address some of the most challenging global health issues. BD helps customers enhance outcomes, lower costs, increase efficiencies, improve safety and expand access to health care.

Mara G. Aspinall Partner, Illumina Ventures

Illumina Ventures is the premier genomics and precision health venture firm supporting companies to improve human health.

As a value -add investor, Illumina Ventures helps entrepreneurs develop breakthrough science and technologies into market-leading companies. The firm focuses on life science tools, therapeutics, diagnostics, personal wellness and sustainability.

Ser ves on the board of directors of BCBS of Arizona, Abcam, Castle Biosciences and OraSure.

Co-founder of ASU School of Biomedical Diagnostics, the only program in the world focused on the study of diagnostics.


President, Head of Commerce Banking Tucson/ Southern Arizona

PNC Bank

Focused on developing relationships and serving the banking needs of Tucson and Southern Arizona businesses through its national main street bank model, including delivery of lending solutions, cash management services, risk management strategies and innovative ideas. Helps guide PNC’s investments in the Tucson metro area.

Serves on the boards of Habitat for Humanity Tucson, Sun Corridor Inc., and University of Arizona’s Hispanic Alumni Association. Also active in Southern Arizona Leadership Council, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Junior Achievement of Southern Arizona and the Tucson Metro Chamber.

PNC Bank is one of the U.S. largest diversified financial services institutionst.

Jean-Claude Bernard Manager – Global Expansion Bombardier Inc.

Global leader in aviation headquartered in Montreal, Canada, with over 13,000 employees worldwide. Bombardier Is present in more than 12 countries including its production/engineering sites and its customer suppor t network. The Tucson facility serves the aftermarket business, servicing business aircraft. The facility provides aircraft maintenance, interior refurbishment, and paint services to its worldwide customers.

Bombardier has been present in Tucson since 1975 through Learjet Inc.

Don Bourn CEO, Bourn Companies

Across more than 30 years and 5 million square feet of work, Bourn Companies has pushed the boundaries of traditional real estate development. It’s portfolio includes mixed-use retail, restaurant and entertainment venues, office buildings, residential communities, hotels, medical and technology facilities complemented with parks and other outdoor built environments.

Bourn is a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Sun Corridor Inc., the Urban Land Institute and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

James D. Buie President, Involta

Award-winning national hybrid IT service provider and consulting firm. Involta helps organizations plan, manage and execute hybrid IT strategies using a broad range of services including strategic consulting, colocation, cloud computing, managed IT, cybersecurity, fiber and network connectivity.  Led the company’s expansion from a regional provider to a national brand, establishing its hybrid cloud strategy and building capabilities to better serve clients through numerous acquisitions while continuing to grow organically.

Jaime S. Chamberlain Chairman

Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County Port Authority

Founded in December 2004. Brings together key stakeholders from the area to address improving Arizona’s largest port facilities, streamlining the crossing process at the Nogales ports of entry and enhancing

114 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mara G. Aspinall Travis Anderton Eliezer Asúnsolo Jean-Claude Bernard Don Bourn James D. Buie

economic development in the Nogales-Santa Cruz County region.

The Mariposa Port of Entry and the Nogales port of entry system are the gateway for 13 million cars, 21 million people, 1,200 trains and 380,000 trucks representing close to $30 billion in international trade.

Amy Cohen

Deputy President – Air Power Raytheon, a business of RTX

The industry’s most advanced end-to-end solutions to detect, track and engage threats.  Cohen’s team provides the U.S. and its global allies in the air domain with sensors and precision weapon solutions to protect allied air service men and women around the world.

Currently serves as the Raytheon executive sponsor for Women Inspiring Success and Empowerment and Employee Resource Group. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from Northern Arizona University.

Founded in 1885

A land-grant university with a total enrollment of 51,134 students for Fall 2022.

Ranks in the top 20 among all U.S. public research institutions and No. 36 overall nationwide with more than $770 million annually in total research activity.

Nationally, ranks No. 1 in astronomy/astrophysics (since 1988), No. 6 in physical sciences and No. 5 in NASAfunded activit y, and No. 4 for universities with high Hispanic enrollment.

Consulate of Mexico in Tucson

Consul Barceló took office in 2020. Previously, has served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Human Rights Department. A career diplomat since 2010, has been posted to the Embassies of Mexico in Brazil and Costa Rica. He also ser ved as a consultant at the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice.

A lawyer with a master’s degree in administration and public policy. The Mexican Consulate promotes economic, cultural and social relationship between Mexico and Southern Arizona, representing the interests of Mexican nationals in Pima and Pinal counties.

Firm has offices in Tucson and Phoenix. Practices business consultation, commercial litigation, labor and employment law, and various regulatory issues. Awarded Best Lawyers in America, Labor & Employment Law 2023. 2022, 2021, 2020, and Arizona’s Finest Lawyers 2015 - present.

Member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and appointed as the Pima County representative of the Southern Arizona Sports, Tourism and Film Authority.

Chairman and founder of the Arizona Bowl. Co-owner of the Tucson Sugar Skulls. Co-host of the Spears & Ali show on ESPN Tucson Radio 104.9FM/1490AM.

Community is at the center of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona’s mission, to build a thriving Southern Arizona through philanthropy.

In our role as convener, facilitator, collaborator, and funder, CFSA works directly with donors, nonprofits, local government, the business community and other partners in philanthropy to inspire and enact long-term solutions for our communities’ most pressing problems.

CFSA believes these solutions are achievable through the collective commitment of our community to enact real, lasting change.

With 25+ years in the financial services industry, leads Commercial Banking for Chase in Southern Arizona, providing banking solutions for Middle Market clients. Chase is the U.S consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase &Co. and serves 20,000 businesses in Southern Arizona.

In 2022, JPMorgan Chase donated $3.5 million to charities in Arizona in support of affordable housing and community development, small business development and financial health. In 2020, JPMorgan Chase donated almost $600,000 to charities in the Tucson area.

In 2020, JPMorgan Chase committed $30 billion globally to advance racial equity and help close the racial wealth gap. SUN CORRIDOR INC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Amy Cohen Jaime S. Chamberlain Rafael Barceló-Durazo Ali J. Farhang Jenny Flynn Edmundo Gamillo Jon Dudas

Manages all new business, retention and account management for companies of all sizes, ser ving 8500 employers and 1.5M Arizonans.  Oversees external engagement, sponsorships and business development for the commercial sales segment.

A not-for-profit company and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Employs more than 2,700 people in its Phoenix, Chandler, Flagstaff and Tucson offices.  Inspires health through healthcare provider partnerships, advanced clinical programs and community outreach.


With the company for 22 years, working in multiple organizations, including finance, strategy and local markets.

Responsible for prioritization of new fiber investments, local coordination for delivery of brownfield and greenfield builds, marketing and sales into all fiber enablements, the launch of Quantum Fiber, local PR and the end-to-end customer experience.

Serves on the board of Sun Corridor Inc. and Healthy Lifestars, an organization committed to youth physical fitness and nutrition.

Hecker & Pew

Of Counsel, Sun Corridor Inc.

Longtime Tucson attorney.

1993-2023 named among Best Lawyers in America in Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions, Business Organizations, including LLCs and partnerships; Corporate Governance Law; and Venture Capital Law.

Hecker is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. Practice is recognized among Best Law Firms in America.

CEO, General Manager

Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Three decades of experience working for electric cooperatives.

As CEO of Trico, Heithoff oversees $300 million in utility infrastructure and $110 million in revenues for a non-profit electric distribution cooperative serving 50,000 members in communities surrounding Tucson, including parts of Pima, Pinal, and Santa Cruz counties. Trico’s headquarters are in Marana with a service center in Sahuarita.

Timothy Hou

Economic Development Policy Manager  Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer, and Earth’s safest place to work.

Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Career Choice, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Just Walk Out technology, Amazon Studios, and The Climate Pledge are some of the things pioneered by Amazon.

Hou oversees Amazon’s economic development policy initiatives in Southern California and Arizona.

William Kelley CFO  Diamond Ventures

Founded in 1988, the leading real estate development and investment company in Southern Arizona.

Mission-driven to provide high quality real estate investments and business ventures that create value for our partners and customers through successful collaboration, careful consideration for the community and at tention to business details.

As CFO, responsible for corporate financial planning, project financing and oversees the commercial and industrial portfolios.

America Tucson

Through its commitment to the community, Bank of America has invested more than $4 million in grants and matching gifts to local nonprofits over the past five years.

Last year, employees volunteered more than 4,800 hours in ser vice to the community and provided more than $298 million in loans to Tucson businesses.

116 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 SUN CORRIDOR INC. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Michael Groeger Guy Gunther Lawrence M. Hecker Brian Heithoff Timothy Hou William Kelley Adriana Kong Romero Michael Groeger  Vice President, Commercial Sales & Service  Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona Lawrence M. Hecker Managing Partner


Founded over 50 years ago as a small neighborhood health center.

El Rio Health provides fully integrated healthcare, including medical, dental, behavioral health, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy and health and wellness services for over 125,000 individuals at 14 locations across Tucson.

Over 1,800 employees and a budget of $250 million.

Steve Lace

Tucson New Car Dealers Association

Recently retired as VP of Royal Automotive Group & Lexus of Tucson, Lace was responsible for the operations of the company ’s eight locations and seven new vehicle franchises. Past president of the Tucson New Car Dealer Association and a former board member of the Tucson Medical Center Foundation.

Judy Lowe CEO

Tucson Association of Realtors

The largest trade association in Southern Arizona, representing the interests of over 6,500 real estate professionals.

United by adherence to a Code of Ethics, our members work as real estate professionals in the sale, lease, appraisal and development of residential and commercial properties as well as the mortgage and lending industry throughout Southern Arizona.


Leads a company that became the first to demonstrate fully autonomous trucks on surface streets and highways, and go public. Launched TuSimple’s Autonomous Freight Network and forged partnerships with UPS and the United States Post Office.

Over 16 years of experience in operations, strategy and corporate finance in the U.S. and Asia.

The Northern Trust is the leading private bank in the world, serving individuals, foundations and families since 1889.

Arizona’s largest locally owned CPA and advisory firm and a “Top 200” Largest CPA Firm in the United States. Serving over 7,000 private enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

The firm provides assurance, cybersecurity, tax, financial forensics and valuation services, outsourced accounting, and strategic operations and advisory resources. Specialized industry expertise includes cannabis, construction, financial and professional services, healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofit, real estate, restaurant/ hospitality, and technology.

CMM, Vice President Public

Chief Environmental Officer, General Motors Corporation

Past Chair, Sun Corridor Inc.

Former senior automotive executive and current consultant in environmental, energy, governance, and transportation infrastructure strategies.

Serves as a board member, trustee, executive leader and senior advisor to companies, non-profit organizations, economic development organizations and health care institutions.

Member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Tucson Airport Authority, former Vice-Chair Sonoran Institute, Board member of 88-Crime (Crime stoppers), University of Arizona Health Network Board member and Chair of Strategic Planning Committee. SUN CORRIDOR INC.
Steve Lace Clinton Kuntz Judy Lowe Cheng Lu Clint Mabie Eric Majchrzak Dennis R. Minano Dennis R. Minano

Omar Mireles  President , HSL Properties

Founded 1975

Owns and operates 38 apartment communities in Arizona, including 32 in the Tucson metro area, totaling more than 10,000 apartment homes. HSL is currently developing two apartment communities in Southern Arizona.

The company also owns and operates hotels and resorts, including the El Conquistador Tucson, a Hilton Resort, and The Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain.

Farhad Moghimi

Executive Director  Regional Transportation Authority

Coordinates and facilitates regional planning efforts aimed at optimizing mobility, sustainability, livability, and economic vitalit y across the region.

Secures and allocates federal, state, regional and local funding for various regional transportation investments and initiatives.

Oversees and directs the operations of the Regional Transportation Authority, ensuring the effective implementation of its comprehensive 20-year, $2.1 billion regional transportation plan.

Tom Murphy

Mayor, Town of Sahuarita

Population – 35,124

Median Household Income –$89,896

Full-time-equivalent employees – 189.4

Incorporated in 1994.  Arizona’s fifth youngest town.

A new Grow IN Sahuarita program connects local busi-

ness owners with the resources and information they need to be successful. Business support through Grow IN Sahuarita includes ideation/planning, mentorship, acceleration, transitions, and more.

The Town of Sahuarita is known for its well-maintained infrastructure, great schools, pristine neighborhoods, highly educated population, and strong community spirit.

Shaima Namazifard Vice President of Business Services

Tucson Federal Credit Union

More than a decade of experience in the commercial banking industr y with a focus on business lending. Brought to Tucson Federal Credit Union to create a business platform to further elevate their already notable brand in the community. TFCU has been serving the greater Tucson area for over 86 years and has grown to $689 million in assets.

Recognized as BizTucson’s Next Gen Leaders for 2022 and Tucson Hispanic Chamber’s 40 under 40 in 2018.

Ser ves on the board of directors for Tucson Airport Authority, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Real Estate for Women Tucson, YMCA of Southern Arizona, and Southern Arizona Land Trust. Previously involved with El Rio Vecinos, El Rio Foundation, Angel Charity for Children, American Hear t Association, and Lupus Foundation of Southern Arizona.

spectrum of loan, deposit and treasury management capabilities with 10 offices in Tucson, Greater Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Named the #2 best-performing of the 50 largest public U.S. banks in the S&P Global Market Intelligence listing for 2021, ranks high year after year on the Forbes list of “America’s Best Banks” and was named #1 Best Emerging Regional Bank per Bank Director’s 2022 Ranking Banking study.

John Officer Councilmember, Town of Marana

Native Arizonan. Lived, worked and volunteered in Town of Marana for 29 years.

Worked with the Central Arizona Project for more than three decades and ser ved on the Parks and Recreation Commission and Planning Commission before 2017 appointment to Marana Town Council. Former president of Marana Heritage Conservancy.

Serves as a volunteer of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Himanshu Parikh

Vice President of Manufacturing Operations

Roche Tissue Diagnostics

Responsible for managing manufacturing and supply chain operations for Tucson and Pleasanton, Calif. sites.


Founded in 2003.

Alliance Bank offers a full

Over 20+ years of experience in running manufacturing operations of various diagnostics and biotechnology companies. Roche provides 250-plus cancer tests with related instruments globally to improve outcomes for the 14 million people diagnosed with cancer annually. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Farhad Moghimi Tom Murphy Shaima Namazifard Steve Odenkirk Omar Mireles John Officer Himanshu Parikh

Led United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona since 2010.

A U.S. Air Force veteran, he served as a senior executive for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio and held positions in the for-profit sector, with Teradyne Corporation. Received recognition for his service to the community on the floor of the U.S. Congress in 2013 and 2015.

United Way positively impacts the lives of more than 300,000 children, families and older adults throughout Southern Arizona this year.

Founded in Tucson in 1985. Leading independently owned, full-service commercial real estate company.

Licensed in Southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, provides services in office, retail, industrial, medical, multi-family and land sectors.

Founded in 1931.

Southwest Gas serves more than two million residential, commercial and industrial customers in parts of Arizona, Nevada and California.

Works with local, state and federal government officials to help create policies that result in lower greenhouse gas emis-

sions by utilizing compressed natural gas in vehicles and the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses.

As the college’s single point of contact for workforce and economic development initiatives, works with internal and external stakeholders to respond to the workforce needs of businesses and industry and lead the college’s alignment to the economic development priorities of the region and state.

Oversees innovation for the college district, including the development and implementation of new models such as micropathways, apprenticeships and baccalaureate degrees.

Pima Community College is a comprehensive two-year institution serving students and employers throughout Pima County in Arizona and beyond.

Founded in Spring 2009, BizTucson is the region’s premier business magazine.

BizTucson provides in-depth coverage of the region’s business news, including economic development, university research, technology, the arts, education, tourism, defense, bioscience, hospitality and nonprofits.

The award-winning magazine, produced quarterly in print and online, also publishes a bi-weekly newsletter, BizTucson News Update.

Leads efforts to continue to strengthen the credit union’s mission to provide superior personalized service and highquality financial products to our field of membership while maintaining our long-term financial stabilit y.

Over 35 successful years in the credit union industry and 13 years in an executive leadership role at Hughes. Volunteer for Angel Charit y for Children.

Hughes Federal Credit Union is a locally and member-owned financial cooperative with more than 178,000 members and $1.9 billion dollars in assets. Rated A+ and accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 1974. Earned the prestigious 5-star rating from “the nation’s bank rating service.”

Rothstein recently retired from Roche. In addition to his legal duties, he played a significant role in managing the company through the pandemic, mentoring some of the next generation of Roche’s leaders, and nurturing the company’s culture and mindset.

Former partner at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, Rothstein was a leader of Sidley’s global Technology and IP Transactions Practice and handled a wide range of U.S. and cross-border technology and corporate transactions, focused on life sciences.

Barbi Reuter Tony Penn Walter Richter Ian Roark Steve Rosenberg Elisa Ross Jeffrey S. Rothstein

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Commercial Banking provides deep financial exper tise and a complete range of capital, advisory, risk management and operating solutions tailored to the needs of middle market companies in Arizona and across the U.S.

Wells Fargo brings the full strength of its platform to support clients in all stages of the business lifecycle. Our Arizona Commercial Banking team combines our local market expertise with industry advisors in sectors such as tech, healthcare, commercial real estate, and commercial and industrial to deliver financial insights and solutions to give you the competitive edge.

Basha has 26 years of experience in the banking industry in Arizona. She established the Women’s Networking Luncheon in 2014 to empower and promote women leaders. She was also recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Business in the State of Arizona in 2019. Corey was recently named as one of the 2022 Banking Leaders of the Year.

Oversees a second-generation family operation focused on the development and management of real estate investments and projects, including master planned communities, land development, commercial development/management, and communit y management.

Sharpe and his team led the development of Rancho Sahuarita, an award-winning 3,000acre master plan community located in Southern Arizona. Serves as a board member for Banner Health Foundation and for Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona.

Named a 2022 “Next Gen Leader” by BizTucson.

Keri Lazarus Silvyn Partner/Owner

Lazarus & Silvyn, PC

Arizona’s preeminent land-use law firm in Phoenix and Tucson specializing in zoning, land use, entitlements, development agreements and project approvals.

Predominantly representing private property owners in zoning and economic development entitlements. Also represents local jurisdictions to draft land use codes and ordinances.

Silvyn serves on the Arizona State Land Board of Appeals, chair of the Tucson Airport Authority board of directors and is a member of many other organizations.


Northwest Healthcare is an integrated network that includes Northwest Medical Center, Northwest Medical Center Oro Valley Hospital, Northwest Medical Center Houghton, Northwest Medical Center Sahuarita, Northwest Free Standing Emergency Departments, Nor thwest Transitions Inpatient Rehabilitation and Northwest Urgent Care Centers, with over 40 ambulatory sites and affiliated physician practices in 18 specialties.

In 2022, in addition to helping people get well and live healthier, Northwest Healthcare made a financial impact of more than $1.6 million per day to the Pima County communities we serve. That number includes Charity and Uncompensated Care, Property and Sales Tax, Capital Investments, Community Organization/Event Support, and Salary, Wages and Benefits for over 3,000 people.


Oversees both Arizona and Washington State, bringing broadband to underserved areas and working to expand access and fiber-based telecommunications across Arizona and beyond.

Prior to Bluespan, worked on innovations with the Microsoft Home project and the IDSS infrastructure team specializing in data analysis.

Bluespan has provided effective management technology tools for businesses, nonprofits, government, and professional offices since the 1990s.

120 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Corey Saba-Basha Jeremy Sharpe Keri Lazarus Silvyn Brian Sinotte Scott Stace Corey Saba Basha Director, Commercial Banking Leader Jeremy Sharpe President, Sharpe and Associates, Inc. Managing Partner, Rancho Sahuarita

V. Stover Arizona Complete HealthComplete Care Plan Medicaid Plan President

Arizona Complete Health

provides comprehensive healthcare services for about 600,000 Arizonans statewide through Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace health plans using a whole-health, community-based approach. Mr. Stover has direct oversight for the programs serving nearly 400,000 members.

With offices in Tempe, Tucson, Yuma and Sierra Vista, Arizona Complete Health, and its parent company, Centene Corporation, employs approximately 3,500 individuals with emphasis on suppor ting equity, diversity, and inclusion.

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, Arizona Complete Health provides and administers health benefits through individual, Medicaid, Medicare, and dual eligible programs. Its two Medicaid health plans are Arizona Complete HealthComplete Care Plan and Care1st Health Plan Arizona. Arizona Complete Health also offers Medicare Advantage coverage through its Wellcare by Allwell plan and Marketplace coverage through Ambet ter. For more information on Arizona Complete Health, please visit the company’s website at

Stratford President & Chief Creative Officer Caliber Group

Caliber Group is a strategic brand marketing, digital and public relations firm headquartered in Arizona. She has more than 25 years of experience as a brand and marketing strategist for clients in the U.S. and across the globe. Kerry is currently the chair of the University of Arizona Alumni Advisory Council, on the steering committee for Local First Arizona and serves on the executive committee for the Tucson Advertising Federation Educational Foundation.

Caliber Group is the strategic business partner that organizations turn to when faced with a business or market challenge that requires breakthrough thinking to outpace the competition or better serve their customers.

Town Manager

Town of Oro Valley

A dedicated career in local government leadership for 27 years, including communities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Wilkins strives to build teams and collaboration for internal and community initiatives. His teams plan for goals and celebrate together when accomplished.  He believes change will inevitably occur, however, progress requires partnership and planning.

Oro Valley, incorporated in 1974, has 48,226 people with a median household income of $92,548. Voted Top Ten Safest Places to Live in Arizona in 2023.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.

ASU serves Tucson’s public service programs and organizations, nonprofit community, K-12 systems, workforce development initiatives, and private sector research collaborations bringing to bear nationally ranked and recognized educational assets with a mind to strengthen and advance Southern Arizona.

Technology Council

The state’s premier trade association for technology- and science -driven companies. Connecting and empowering Arizona’s community of innovation, AZTC is the driving force behind making the state the fastest-growing tech hub in the nation.

AZTC works to further the advancement of technology through leadership, education and advocacy. Fostering a climate of creativity, innovation and community, AZTC works to create a destination for companies to be, thrive and stay.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 121 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kerry Stratford James V. Stover Jeff Wilkins John Winchester Steven G. Zylstra

Top Reasons to Choose Tucson

Southern Arizona offers a strategic Southwest location and a key conduit between California and Mexico, the state’s largest trade partner. With strong investments in skilled workforce

Aerospace & Defense

200+ companies

25,000+ employees

4000+ aerospace technology graduates

Anchored by the headquarters of Raytheon, a division of RTX, Southern Arizona has deep supply chain presence in commercial and defense activities. Our year-round flying capabilities, boosted by a dry climate, set the foundation for two of the state’s largest military installations − Davis Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca.

Bioscience & Diagnostics

100+ companies

5,500+ employees

10,000+ life science graduates

The region is home to Roche Tissue Diagnostics, the leading global supplier of cancer diagnostics, and Critical Path Institute, a global pharma research organization. With more than 20 life sciences programs at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, the National Institutes of Health has granted UArizona researchers more than $1.6 billion since 2010 making it the largest state recipient.

Renewable & Mining Technologies

12th among new U.S. tech markets

900+ engineering graduates

With a rich mining legacy, the region produces 66% of the nation’s copper that fuels an increasingly digital world. Southern Arizona has 15 active mines, and is home to Caterpillar, Hexagon’s Mining Division, Komatsu Arizona Proving Grounds and more. The Arizona Board of Regents approved the creation of the School of Mining & Mineral Resources at UArizona, making it the premier institution devoted to mineral resources.

Transportation & Logistics

150+ companies

11,000+ employees

45 million people served within 500 mile radius

Southern Arizona’s advantageous proximity to Mexico boosts bi-national commerce, with 40% of the nation’s produce funneled through Nogales, Ariz. The Port of Tucson, with over 770 acres of land, is a fullservice, inland port, rail yard and intermodal facility adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad Mainline and Interstate 10.

SUN CORRIDOR INC. CHOOSE TUCSON Biz 122 BizTucson < < < Fall 2022


Tucson a Top 10 Food City Travel + Leisure

Tucson ranked No. 6 out of 10 in best cities to visit for foodies. The travel magazine said the city continues to wow culinary connoisseurs with its distinct Native American and Mexican of ferings dating back thousands of years.

Tucson Named No. 6 Best U.S. City for Gen Z Commercial Café

The only Arizona city to make the Top 20, Tucson scored high marks for cost of living, the share of this age cohort within the total population, educational attainment, internet cost, recreational establishments, green commuting and parks per capita.

Tucson Ranks No. 15 Among 52 Places to Go in 2023

The New York Times

Focusing on food, culture, adventure and natural beauty, the iconic daily newspaper included Tucson on its annual list of celebrated global cities to visit.

Tucson Among North America’s Next 25 Markets for Tech Talent CBRE

The U.S. commercial real estate services and investment firm included Tucson among 25 smaller markets with strong growth potential, offering additional talent pools for expansion-seeking employers.

Tucson Named a Top Performer, Future Star in Office Sector Area

Boosted by a boom of semiconductor manufacturing and high-tech/R&D/logistics suppor t, Tucson listed on the Top Performer list by Moody’s Analytics and ranked No. 1 on the Top 10 Future Stars list. The list measures office sector performance, including effective rent growth and vacancy changes.

Tucson Among Top Cities with Influx of New Residents

North American Van Lines, Inc. listed Tucson as one of the top inbound cities in its annual migration

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 123
, Finance / CFO Corporate Administrator 5. Jef f Powell Economic Development & Research Director 6. Laura Shaw Senior VP 7. Joe Snell President & CEO
8. David Welsh Executive VP

Startup Success University of Arizona Center for Innovation to Host 20th Anniversary Event

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation will mark 20 years of entrepreneurial innovation with an Oct. 19 community celebration at its headquarter location UA Tech Park off Rita Road.

Tech Parks Arizona created UACI in 2003 to serve as an incubator for science and tech startups in Southern Arizona. Since its inception, UACI has supported 253 business startups programming and specialized facilities to enable entrepreneurs to take their ideas to market.

UACI helps founders overcome common challenges with centralized resources that accelerate inventions and scale business operations. In 2021, UACI’s work with startups resulted in a $35.5 million economic impact in Southern Arizona as well as $2 million in tax revenue. UACI startups have raised more than $105.8 million in funding leading to successful enterprises, spin-off business and skilled local jobs. Looking ahead to the next 30 years, UACI is forecasted to create 18,875 jobs and more than $600 million in wages, $1.5 billion in economic activity, as well as nearly

$85 million in state and local tax revenue.

“The support of the community has played a crucial role in the success of UACI and the startups it serves that is why we are excited to share this milestone because it is a shared community win,” said UACI Director Anita Bell. “Like the mighty saguaro standing tall through the desert’s changing climate, our legacy as Arizona’s longest-running incubator nurtures businesses to reach new heights, their roots firmly anchored in our unwavering commitment to growth and innovation.”

Tech Parks Arizona and UACI invite the community to join in the UACI 20th Anniversary Community Celebration on Oct. 19 at 9040 S. Rita Road, Suite 1270. This special event will bring together current and alumni startups, local businesses, government leaders, as well as UArizona leadership to celebrate UACI’s achievements and its transformative impact on the region’s entrepreneurial landscape.


DATE: Thursday, October 19, 2023

TIME: 5:30 - 7:30pm

COST: No charge but registration is required


9040 S. Rita Road, Suite 1270, Tucson AZ, 85747

Event highlights:

• Learn about new innovations coming to the market directly from startup founders

• Enjoy a variet y of specialized food and drink options, including a delicious selection of international cuisine representing partner regions

• Immerse yourself in a dynamic and inspiring atmosphere that radiates vibrancy and creativity as you network

Register Required to at tend:

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 125
126 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
From left – Jeannie Nguyen, Angel Charity for Children Chair; Laura Buckelew, Angel Charity Director of Capital Campaign Underwriting; Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan, Director of Steele Children’s Research Center; Daniel Laubitz, Director of PANDA Core for Genomics and Microbiome Research and Carrie Durham, Angel Charity Vice Chair THE ANGEL BALL December 9, 2023 The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa

A Boost for Genetic Research

Angel Charity for Children Chooses

Steele Children’s Research Center for $800,000 Grant

Thousands of children who have lifelong illnesses have a brighter future thanks to a mom determined not to let her little boy’s life go in vain.

Whole genome sequencing, which can pinpoint the genetic source of ailments such as cancer, autism and Type 1 diabetes, is now underway at the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center, where genetics labs are being renovated with an $800,000 grant this year from Angel Charity for Children, co-founded by Louise Thomas and now a philanthropic force in its 41st year.

Steele aligns with Angel Charity’s mission of funding entities that help children with serious diseases.

“These scientists will be able to identify lifechanging disorders affecting children and be able to provide accurate treatment right away versus treating symptoms without a definitive diagnosis, in some cases which could lead to death, pain and suffering,” said Laura Buckelew, chair of capital campaign underwriting for Angel Charity.

“This project is so much more than lab renovations,” Buckelew said.

In his 28 years at Steele, Steele Children’s Director Dr. Fayez Ghishan has drawn more than 100 physician-scientists here. With new equipment and the renovated labs, more top-notch doctors and researchers will surely be attracted.

“We can diagnose 60% of kids who have genetic diseases,” said Ghishan, who called whole genome sequencing “the ultimate in figuring out the genetic source of a disease.”

Steele, which has 65,000 patient visits annually, is “the only center here dedicated to genetic therapy for kids. And that would not have happened without the support of the community,” Ghishan said. “We could not do it without

Angel Charity and other people who raise money.”

Thomas’ son, Michael, died at age 9 in 1979 after undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After he was diagnosed, Thomas traveled out of state and to Europe to find the best care. She ended up finding an oncologist in Tucson.

“When you’re in a situation like that you need your family and friends around you,” she said. “That’s why I support projects like the Steele Center. We need the best scientists right here and in the state of Arizona for our children.”

A founding member of Steele, Thomas was “jubilant”... when it was chosen from a competitive application process to receive the 2023 Angel Charity Impact Grant.

People Acting Now Discover Answers, or PANDA, the Phoenix women’s board of Steele, provided the $1.3 million to buy the NovaSeq 6000 whole genome sequencer.

“How wonderful that now the proper equipment that will change the course of lives is going to be housed in the appropriate center,” Thomas said.

It used to cost $1 million and take six months to complete whole genome sequencing. With the new equipment at Steele Children’s, sequencing can be done on 48 children in 40 hours.

“We’re going to get kids healthier faster because they’re going to get answers faster,” said Lori Stratton, Steele’s director of development.

Thomas, now a “guardian angel emeritus” at Angel Charity, and Jane Loew Sharples in 1983 launched the nonprofit to retire the mortgage of the Ronald McDonald House, where families from out of town can stay for free while their child receives treatment at medical sites here.

Sharples died in 2018, but her work, and that of Thomas, continues to have a huge effect.

Children have access to treatment here, as do children from all across the state and beyond. Doctors everywhere can also reach out for assistance.

“We need to tell pediatricians, family doctors, internists in town, in Southern Arizona, ‘Look, you have a facility in your backyard now. If you suspect something, give us a call and we will decide with you whether whole genome sequencing is adequate or not,’ ” Ghishan said.

Ghishan raised $2 million to create the endowed Louise Thomas Chair in Pediatric Cancer Research, held since 2005 by Dr. Emmanuel Katsanis, who leads a team at Steele in charge of conducting bone marrow transplants and researchers who are working to find ways to, according to Steele’s website, stimulate a patient’s immune system to fight cancer.

However, Thomas said, “Michael is the one that needs recognition, not me. He was very brave. He was an amazing child.”

“I can’t be more proud that Angel Charity was started because of Michael,” she said. “So many things were started because of Michael … he lost his life, but look at the good that came from it.”

Angel Charity has awarded $30.6 million in funding to 129 projects, affecting more than 1 million children in Pima County. It will kick off its grant funding with a “Halo for Hire” orientation seminar Oct. 3. Registered 501(c)3 organizations can attend to find out how the application process works. For more information, visit

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 127

Multigenerational Workforces Demand Different Health Care Experiences

As the workforce continues to evolve, Arizona employers will need to find ways to ensure their health plan delivers an experience in line with their employees’ needs and expectations.

From new college hires to seasoned executives, it’s not uncommon for an employee population to span multiple generations. In fact, there are 4 commonly defined generations currently active in the workplace today: Baby Boomers, Generation X (Gen X), Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z).

With these multigenerational employee populations come varying health care needs, expectations and prefer ences. For instance, the Baby Boomer population, which increased in Arizona by 49.9% from 2010 to 2021, to have different health care issues and priorities than their younger counter parts, based on several factors includ ing biological age, life experience and socioeconomic influences.

This can make it a challenge for em ployers to determine which health care experiences are the right fit for their unique employee population. And find ing the right fit matters.

It’s important for employers to understand their employee population needs and to keep generational preferences in mind when designing health care plans. Doing so provides options for employees who prefer to access health care in different ways. Not only does this maximize engagement and improve experience, it may lead to higher overall employee satisfaction and talent retention.

Understanding health care preferences by generation?

It’s complicated.

While providing quality health care can help attract and retain a talented

workforce in this competitive labor market, it can be difficult defining exactly what that means in a generationally diverse workforce.

The first step is to get an understanding of the 4 generations currently comprising the workforce. Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z all have commonalities within their age groups, but it’s also important to understand that within those groups there are also sub-segments that need to be considered.

tempted to cater to that generation’s preferences. But that approach has the potential to alienate other generations, who are just as critical to their employee population.

Employers should instead look to design their health plan and benefits based on their specific employee population. For instance, if a group is 9% Baby Boomer and 38% Gen Z, that employer may want to consider investing in digital tools since that’s how the majority of their population prefers to access health care, says Rebecca Madsen, chief executive officer of Advocacy or UnitedHealthcare Employer & In-

veloping a comprehensive plan with the aim of meeting the needs of a multigenerational workforce by helping employees find quality care, providing a digital-first experience and delivering on a whole-person approach to healthier can also be an effective strategy.

Helping employees find quality care

Designing a healthcare experience for a multigenerational workforce

With Millennials dominating today’s workforce and predicted to dominate tomorrow’s, employers might be

Advocacy plays an important role in helping employees understand the features included with their plan, so they can take full advantage of their benefits. Advocates also help members navigate the health system, such as recommending more cost-efficient sites of care based on their particular situation.

For example, older generations may be more likely to turn to a PCP when needing care, whereas a Gen Z member might head directly to an ER or urgent care facility — which are more expensive sites of care and may not always provide the best experience. Virtual care options can offer younger generations a more streamlined experience without the expense of an ER visit.

128 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizHEALTHCARE

Providing a digital-first experience

Although Gen Z is considered a digital-first generation, nearly all generations use digital tools today. This indicates to employers that they should look to ensure their health plan delivers a strong digital experience that meets a wide range of employee expectations, such as offering self-service portals like® and apps to schedule appointments, communicate with their provider and access personal health data.

Focusing on features and services that are generation-agnostic can help employers get the most value out of their benefits packages while providing the functionality demanded by their employees.

Delivering a whole-person approach to healthier

A recent study found that wellness is one of the top clinical cost drivers across all four age segments.2 This is another common denominator that employers can leverage to add overall value to the health plan and benefits they offer employees.

Investing in wellness programs and encouraging preventive care are approaches that can benefit all generations. Programs like UnitedHealthcare Rewards® that incent employees for engaging in healthy behaviors or lifestyle changes, such as reaching daily physical activity goals, losing weight and completing preventive screenings, help give employees more control over their health.

By building a well-managed plan that takes these generational differences and commonalities into consideration, employers can increase health care utilization among their employees and provide them with tools and resources that can be tailored to individual generations’ needs. In addition to supporting employees with a simpler health care experience, this approach may help lead to lower costs and a healthier workforce for employers.



1 How has the population changed in Arizona? USA Facts. Available: Accessed: Aug. 3, 2023.

2 UnitedHealthcare National Accounts Book of Business data. January 2023.


UnitedHealthcare Rewards is a voluntary program. The information provided under this program is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical advice. You should consult an appropriate health care professional before beginning any exercise program and/or to determine what may be right for you. Receiving an activity tracker, certain credits and/or rewards and/or purchasing an activity tracker with earnings may have tax implications. You should consult with an appropriate tax professional to determine if you have any tax obligations under this program, as applicable. If any fraudulent activity is detected (e.g., misrepresented physical activity), you may be suspended and/or terminated from the program. If you are unable to meet a standard related to health factor to receive a reward under this program, you might qualify for an opportunity to receive the reward by different means. You may call us toll-free at 1-855-256-8669 or at the number on your health plan ID card, and we will work with you (and, if necessary, your doctor) to find another way for you to earn the same reward. Rewards may be limited due to incentive limits under applicable law. Subject to HSA eligibility, as applicable. This program is not available in Hawaii, Kansas, Vermont and Puerto Rico. Components subject to change.

Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates. Administrative services provided by United HealthCare Services, Inc. or their affiliates.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 129

The Rental Reimagined

DSW Commercial, HercuTech Partner in New Green Venture

For years, Tucson developers Michael Sarabia and James Hardman pondered the attributes of an ideal rental home. It would need a garage, a workstation with smart technology, a place for pets and more − all within a contemporary space that looks and feels different.

They’re done contemplating. They’re building.

DSW Commercial Real Estate, long

successful in office and retail ventures, is branching into the residential sector with La Vida at 1100, a 29-unit “build for rent” townhome project rising on two acres of land on the north side of River Road west of Oracle Road and east of La Cañada Drive.

“We want to build something totally different in the Tucson market,” said Sarabia, who grew up here and is CEO

of DSW Commercial. “We haven’t seen anything like what we’re combining, all together, and in Tucson. There’s a risk but we believe it’s what the market is actually looking for.”

In their travels, particularly in California, Sarabia and Hardman have seen appealing, smaller infill townhome rental projects. They took pictures, shared preferences, and gave it to James E.

130 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

McMahon Architecture and Planning, which created the La Vida product line.

A townhome at La Vida at 1100 will have an open floor plan, a small backyard, a wrap-around patio on the second story, and 1-gigabyte internet connectivity.

A La Vida home must also be “in harmony with the environment,” with lower energy and operating expenses,

Sarabia said.

DSW Commercial found the right green partner in HercuTech, a Tempebased innovator in framing and wall technology.

La Vida at 1100 is the first project in Southern Arizona to be built with that company’s HercuWall, touted for its environmental benefit, near-zero waste, soundproofing, pace of construction,

savings in both construction labor and energy, and low-cost, long-term maintenance.

HercuWall is an International Code Council-certified panelized exterior and demising wall system. The prefabricated wall panels are made of expanded polystyrene foam, reinforced with a patented steel HercuStrip™ technology,

continued on page 132 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 131

continued from page 131

and laminated with a weather-resistant barrier.

The panels, typically weighing 35 to 45 pounds, are numbered in the Tem pe factory, then pieced together like a puzzle, each tongue-and-groove piece placed in proper order atop rebar ex tended upward from a post-tension slab. Panels are then strengthened with siteintegrated concrete.

The technology “reduces the amount of skilled labor required,” said Her cuTech CEO Jason Rhees. “It’s faster, with fewer workers.”

HercuWall maintains steady inside temperatures. The walls are the equiva lent of R-31 insulation value − that’s nearly 10 inches of conventional insula tion − providing up to 40% energy sav ings as compared with wood construc tion. Such efficiency allows right-sizing of HVAC systems, saving money for tenants and owners, all of whom should “recognize significantly lower utility bills,” Rhees said.

The walls are quiet, too. “You won’t be able to hear your neighbors next door,” Rhees said, adding “there’s no food for mold, no termites, no insects.”

A two-bedroom unit at La Vida at 1100 is 1,026 interior square feet. The

manage them in association with a local multi-family residential management company.

“We’re excited, for sure,” said Sarabia, who credits Pima County government and its development services staff or cooperation on an infill project. “We believe this is a marriage of sustainability, affordability and profitability that s sense. We’re able to lower the cost for people, and make apartments seem like expensive townhomes.”

“Developers are wanting to build better, and differentiate themselves in a very competitive market,” Rhees said.

Workers are trained in Tempe on HercuWall installation. Once everyone understands their role, “you can build them very quickly, which in turn should save carrying costs,” he said.

DSW Commercial is also launching a workforce housing division with plans to create 150 doors in the accessible housing space. “For every market-rent deal e do, we want to do a workforce housing project as well,” Sarabia said. “We ve Tucson, we believe in Tucson. We want more housing options for all of us.

“I believe it’s incumbent on local developers to step out of the box and keep raising the bar in Tucson,” Sarabia said.

132 BizTucson
Biz Biz
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 133
134 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizCONSTRUCTION


Foothills Mall Redevelopment to Include Hotel, Stores, Public Market

From the mostly demolished retail hub that was once the bustling Foothills Mall will soon rise Uptown, a reimagined new development which local developer Don Bourn says is unlike anything the region has seen.

Uptown will be a hyper-modern, densely built, mixed-use development with “elevated living” residences, boutique hotels, “upbeat” entertainment, “curated cuisine,” “uplifting” office and co-working spaces, health and wellness venues and “vibrant” retailers, said Bourn, owner of Bourn Companies, developer of the massive new project.

The new site will include 175,000 square feet of public space with a palmlined promenade, performance venues and places to gather.

“We’re building it for today and tomorrow, as opposed to a half-century ago,” Bourn said. “There is nothing like this in Tucson.” For it to succeed, “every piece has to fit together like a puzzle or a Rubik’s Cube.”

Selective destruction of the mall’s 41-year-old core is “effectively concluded,” said Dillon Walker, Bourn Companies’ marketing director.

By mid-July, crews from Chasse Building Team had wiped away more than 350,000 square feet of buildings from the northwest corner of Ina Road and La Cholla. That’s 65% of what was once a 51-acre Saltillo-tiled spread of retail, restaurant and entertainment businesses that lost its magic amid retail upheaval.

To fully reimagine a mall, “you have to let it die all the way,” said Walker.

“If you think about the malls built across this country, that’s really a halfa-century old business model,” said Bourn, whose namesake company has operated in Tucson for more than 30 years. “They’re such major investments. It’s hard to modify them significantly to bring that format up to date.”

Phase 1 of Uptown begins this fall. With an investment nearing $400 million, Bourn Companies plans to build a five-story, 157-unit apartment community above ground-floor retail, and a 150-door hotel − up to seven stories − with the possibility of penthouse suites above. Associated retail follows. When Phase 1 concludes, Uptown should have 350 apartments, 230 hotel rooms, 425,000 square feet of retail space, 10 food and beverage concepts, and a public market in the space now occupied by Bar nes & Noble.

At full build-out, Uptown scales to 1,000 apartments, a half-million square feet of retail, six unique outdoor environments, 25 food and drink establishments, and more than 500 hotel rooms. Total investment could approach $1 billion. Pima County has granted permission for buildings up to 10 stories.

“Retail really benefits from a heavy amount of onsite, built-in traffic, from hotels, residents and offices that are using the restaurants and retail on a daily basis,” Bourn said. “That’s where people want to go.”

“We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t believe strongly in the market,” Walker said. “It’s a 30-minute drive from

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 135 continued on page 136 >>> IMAGES COURTESY BOURN COMPANIES
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 137
138 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Allyson Tofel, Jim Tofel, Dave Dent & Lynn Tofel Dent

Net Gain Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club’s New Owners Serving Up Improvements

Founded in 1967 by Joe and Marian Tofel, Tucson Racquet & Fitness Club has been a landmark institution serving premier tennis players and providing decades of safe, fun fitness for all ages.

In its 56-year history, the club has hosted numerous tennis tournaments, summer camps and popular Friday night barbecues to the public with live music. Many Tucsonans have childhood memories of camp or sports or remember the big names in tennis who frequented the national tournaments.

Now, two of Joe’s grandchildren have purchased the club with plans to revitalize it for generations to come. Jim and Allyson Tofel, and David and Lynn (Tofel) Dent took ownership in May.

In the 1950s, Joe Tofel and his partners first built a tennis club on the land where El Con Mall stands today. The original El Conquistador was a premier resort on Broadway Blvd. When the mall conversion became a reality, Joe and Marian moved to open the Tucson Racquet Club at its current location on Country Club Road.

Jim said he’s honoring his grandparents’ wish that the club not be replaced with housing–a relief for many who were concerned the space would be converted to condos or apartments.

The new owners love the premier location on The Loop. They hired Sandy McCaslin as the club general manager, who brings 17 years of industry experience to the position. She sees tremen-

dous opportunity for the club to further serve the community. “I have this industry on the back of my eyelids,” she said,

try club-feel without the country club prices. People come here and they leave here feeling better.”

Tofel and Dent own Tofel Dent Construction, which will help when making changes to some of the club’s dated facilities. “A lot of the buildings still have a look of the ’70s,” Tofel said. “Much of what we’re planning is cosmetic. Our challenge is modernizing the club without losing the family-friendly charm.”

They plan to resurface courts, add new cardio equipment, improve the landscaping and create more indoor and outdoor space. They also will improve the club’s technology, including an app to reserve courts and classes and order food.

The owners already have “spent a fair amount of money that people can’t see,” Dent said. He seconded plans to upgrade connectivity, accounting and point-of-sale software and would also like to add outdoor lighting for the Friday night barbecues.

For now, the owners are focused on adding courts and having the current ones resurfaced, which will thrill the scores of people who play tennis, racquetball and pickleball.

Pickleball fan Rebecca Block and husband Tim Haskin have been club members for roughly a decade.

“My husband and I have so many friends from the club, it’s hard to imag-

continued on page 140 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 139
prices. People come here and they leave here feeling better.”

“We have been members on and off over the years, but once we started playing tennis, we haven’t left again.”

Block, who serves as administrative support for Buffalo Exchange, goes to the club about three times a week. “They really have the whole package,” she said.

The club’s grounds include 30 lighted tennis courts, 12 pickleball courts, 11 indoor racquetball/handball courts, two 75-foot junior Olympic pools, basketball and volleyball courts, two Jacuzzis; a steam room and sauna. Over 70 fitness and yoga classes, a weight room and cardio machines offer many exer-

The club uses about 14.5 acres, but four acres of raw desert remain available. “There’s plenty of room to expand; maybe more courts, another building or more parking,” said Dent, noting they have started the rezoning process. “We are going to take our time

What: Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club

Where: 4001 N. Country Club Road

Hours: 24 hours daily for members; non-members can use certain amenities such as the restaurant and bar Information: 520-795-7960 or

Leah Mein, a 37-year-old contract manager for Tofel Dent Construction, gushed about the club on a Facebook post. She first signed up her three kids for summer camp in 2021.

“I signed them up because of the availability in August,” she said. “Honestly, the kids love the food the most. They get to go to the restaurant for lunch.” She also recently attended her first Friday night barbecue, which usually attracts 500 to 900 people.

“Once we felt the vibe, we’ve been going back ever since,” she said, adding that she knows the club is in good hands under the new ownership. Biz

140 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
142 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
From left Al Mazeika, Creative Services Producer; Cathie Batbie-Loucks, News Director; Peter O’Brien, VP & General Manager; Lupita Murillo, News Reporter.

Media Milestone KVOA

News 4 Tucson Celebrates 70 Years

In the 70 years since it hit the airwaves, KVOA News 4 Tucson has documented every piece of Tucson history to a following that has made the station No. 1 in the market for most of its existence.

It has told the stories of the worst tragedies in the community along with the most heartwarming tales about the people who live here.

There have been personalities who became a part of our lives − anchors, sportscasters and the always-friendly people who bring us the weather. A few have gone on to national prominence in the media, Savannah Guthrie to Today, Dan Hicks to NBC Sports and Lou Waters to CNN.

For Lupita Murillo, a reporter who came here from South Texas in 1978 and who − unlike so many others in the business − has stayed for the duration, her job has always been about the people of Tucson.

“I fell in love with the people,” said Murillo, legendary for her stylish shoes and clothes, and the rum cakes she generously hand-

ed out in the community over the decades to cops and judges on her beat, to fellow reporters and to members of the community.

“The people were just so warm and genuine. I just really fell in love with the people and with the mountains.”

Recording Tucson history and literally being a part of it happened quickly for Murillo who arrived in the summer of 1978. Just a few months later, she was the KVOA reporter on the scene of one of the worst tragedies in the city’s history – an Air Force jet crash in the middle of Tucson that killed two sisters. Of the thousands of stories she has covered, Murillo said, “That one sticks.”

Al Mazeika, who arrived at KVOA in 1975, is a library of Tucson history whose first exposure to the business was as a voice.

“I stumbled into this job,” said Mazeika, whose first job at KVOA was as a booth announcer – the voice that would sometimes read short commercials or read announcements like, “We now join

continued on page 144 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 143

continued from page 143

our regularly scheduled programming.”

Mazeika’s first thoughts on the history of KVOA are toward the people he has worked with, bosses like former general manager Jon Ruby, and to the founders and initial investors in the station, real estate developer Don Diamond, and attorney and businessman Donald Pitt, two community-minded individuals who imparted their vision on the station.

“Ever since I’ve been here it’s always been about what do we do for the community,” Mazeika said, noting KVOA’s community projects related to pool safety for children, toy drives, and collecting school supplies, to name a few. “You just meet wonderful, wonderful people along the way doing that stuff, and that’s as much fun as I have editing and doing things like that around here.”

Jimmy Stewart is one in a long line of ever-popular “weathermen,” more accurately known as meteorologists, who came to Tucson, made friends with the people who watched him every day, and decided to stay. Now retired, Stewart began his time in Tucson at one of the other local stations and moved to KVOA in 1990. He brought us the weather for 21 years.

Stewart worked alongside many “icons” of the news business in Tucson, anchors Patty Weiss, Martha Vasquez, Tom McNamara and meteorologist Michael Goodrich, who he replaced in 1998. But when he was on the air, he knew he was talking to each of us as individuals, which is how he approached his weather reports.

“You talk to one person, not a group. You never say, ‘For all you people down in Green Valley.’ You say, ‘For you in Green Valley,’” Stewart said. “That’s the way you communicate on television if you’re successful.”

And in turn, his viewers considered him their friend.

“Everybody seemed to know who I was,” Stewart said. “I’m not your typical movie-star looking guy, but I could go out with an anchor who was really good looking, and people wouldn’t even notice them because I was a little more recognizable. I never needed that, but it was rewarding to know that you touched some people’s lives.”

With all the history behind KVOA and changes in how the news is delivered today − over the air, online and through social media, News Director Cathie Batbie-Loucks said the responsibility is the same. Batbie-Loucks has been at KVOA since 1999 and has been in the news director seat since 2011, where she works to ensure that viewers get the information they want and, more importantly, need.

That hasn’t changed.”

What has been added to the plate of local news media, Batbie-Loucks said, has been that news stations like KVOA are trying to make a community impact, not only by delivering the news but by engaging, hence, the many community projects and efforts that KVOA is leading.

The Season 4 Hope that collects and delivers food, toys and diapers during the holiday season is now 15 years strong. The Lifesaver campaign began in 2009 to make an impact on child drownings by providing free swimming lessons for kids and education for the community. In 2019, there were no fatal child drownings in Pima County.

“I think at some point the light bulb came on, and it was not just about reporting what’s going on every day in your community,” Batbie-Loucks said. “This IS your community. It’s about using the power of your voice to fix the problems in your community.

“We started the Lifesaver campaign because kids were drowning every summer in Tucson. Kids aren’t drowning every summer in Tucson anymore. There’s nothing that I am more proud of than being able to save children’s lives and our community.”

The community involvement is a significant component of KVOA’s legacy in Tucson, along with delivering news as the most-watched broadcast among the locals, said VP & General Manager Peter O’Brien. With his own history in Tucson dating back to working for KZAZ, Channel 11, the first independent station that launched in 1967, O’Brien is well aware of the history and stature of KVOA.

“The guts of journalism hasn’t changed,” she said. “What we do day in and day out is the same as what we did day in and day out in 1999 when I walked into this place.

“It’s still about telling a good story. It’s still about talking to all sides. It’s still about trust in the media and making sure that we’re giving the viewers the entire story to the best of our ability.

He joined the station in May 2022 after working in northern California, and knows he has a responsibility to build on the legacy of 70 years in a time when everything in the news media seems to be changing regularly.

“When I was here in the 80s, it was a legacy station then. I knew that when I was growing up in this business in this town,” O’Brien said. “I want to make sure we keep doing all the important things that we have done and maybe do them a little bit better.”

144 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
“It’s still about telling a good story. It’s still about talking to all sides. It’s still about trust in the media and making sure that we’re giving the viewers the entire story to the best of our ability. That hasn’t changed.”
– Cathie Batbie-Loucks News Director KVOA Channel 4





148 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Carondelet St. Joseph’s Neurological Institute and Women’s Pavilion El Rio Health Congress Center

Built to Last

BFL Construction Honors 50 Years, Solid Growth

Over the course of five decades, BFL Construction has evolved from custom home builder, to tenant improvement expert, to builder of recognizable Tucson establishments in multi-family living, health care, industry and education.

Its corporate office was once a 6-by-7foot, $42-a-month space on the sixth floor of a Tucson office building. Today, BFL’s classy, technologically equipped, two-story office on Broadway and its new office in Phoenix form a first-rate place for smart people to “go learn what we don’t know.”

That’s the challenge new BFL President David Eves puts in front of his management team.

“Every industry changes every day,” Eves said on a recent Monday morning in his Tucson office. “There’s always a new nugget to pick up.” The effects of technology alone on the construction business are exponential.

So, he asks: “What are the critical flaws in the thinking? One has to be willing to test their own assumptions. We have to stay out in front of it.”

Eves is one year into BFL leadership, building on its foundation of excellence, integrity and strong relationships while navigating a hyper-competitive, dynamic construction industry. He must serve different constituencies – customers, owners and employees. While it’s a lot to manage, he sees limitless opportunity.

“Fifty years is a huge accomplishment.

We have a legacy to continue. Mr. (Garry) Brav left the company in a really good position. We’re positioned to do well,” Eves said, referencing BFL’s founding partner.

Big likes big

Eves said BFL Construction’s 2018 acquisition by the Canadian firm JV Driver Group helps propel the company into the future because it provides expanded resources and bonding capacity. Those abilities would have taken years to achieve.

“A lot of these Tucson companies, and there’s some really good ones, we’ve all struggled to build our bonding capacity,” Eves said. “If you’re companies bonding capacity is maxed, it can reduce your opportunities, particularly in the public sector.”

JV Driver affords BFL $1 billion in bonding capacity, Eves said. “That really can open up doors that were tough to push through in the past. They like to say, ‘big likes big.’”

Conversations about projects may not start with a contractor’s qualifications, but rather its financial ability. “Then, discuss whether you’re qualified to actually build it,” he said.

“Having the resources, with the right talent, the right people, the right team, and timing with bonding capacity, there’s a whole art to balancing all that,” Eves said. It requires “being selective on what you are going to go chase. Not all jobs are continued on page 151 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 149 BizMILESTONE
Roche Tissue Diagnostics
Center 150 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
El Rio

continued from page 149

created equal, not all clients are created equal.”

Where BFL wants to go

BFL started into multi-family construction in 2003 with the successful and very profitable Finisterra project in Tucson. Multi-family has “grown to a large piece of our portfolio,” Eves said, and continues with current Tucson projects such as the 392-unit Solstice project near Topgolf, the Avilla singlestory apartment communities, and a project for Bourn Companies in The Bridges.

That’s great work. And “the sky’s the limit for the foreseeable future,” Eves added.

But it’s imperative for BFL to diversify its portfolio. Eves wants to make a larger push into medical construction. “We had the medical community’s lion’s share of that market segmentation in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s in our core DNA of what BFL is.”

Further opportunities exist in the full array of market segments – defense, mining, retail, healthcare, industrial, educational, institutional and nonprofit customers. BFL is certainly capable of creating the “clean room” work needed by high technology, Eves said.

“There’s not really one lane,” he continued. “I challenge the executive team, if we’re migrating into one lane and staying in that lane, then are we just being lazy and not executing and pushing and stretching ourselves back into other segmentation?

“We cannot get comfortable in just one market segmentation,” Eves said. “The market will shift, and that’s not good if one is not predicting the predictable.

“We have a lot of families to take care of,” Eves said. “It’s a big responsibility. You don’t want to let your team down and not have a backlog of opportunities.”

Developing new business

To expand its reach, BFL has a new business development team working in both the Tucson and Phoenix markets. It’s an actual de-

partment, led by VP Alex Ortega, charged with the pursuit of new business.

He likens it to having a new race car in the garage. “Let’s go take it for a test lap,” and “test assumptions, recalibrate and relaunch. Wash, rinse and repeat. The pursuit of perfection. They’re going to be chasing all kinds of work.”

BFL is definitely encouraged by parent company JV Driver to grow beyond Arizona. “There’s an art in parachuting into other municipalities in other parts of the country,” Eves said. “There’s a way you do that organically, from hiring within. I’ve seen it more successful from the bottom up, grassroots, from hiring within that community, and that takes time.”

Finding talent

BFL now has 100 employees, half in Tucson, half in Phoenix. That workforce has doubled in the past 30 months. Those people work in the office as project administrators, engineers, coordinators and managers, and in the field as directors of operations and superintendents.

The need for talent is great, and the competition intense. Right now, in Maricopa County, there are more than 800 open project manager positions within Southern Arizona industries.

“Finding the talent and retaining the talent” is essential for BFL, Eves said. He believes the company has much to offer, in terms of culture, compensation, benefits, opportunities to advance, robust training, a commitment to the well-being of its team ... and history. “Being in business 50 years gives some stability,” he said.

The company also has a good recruiting team. “Human resources is almost full-time in recruitment mode.”

Eves sees a generational gap within the construction industry, noting too few people ages 35 to 55.

“As an industry, it’s almost like we are a teaching institution now, because of the generational gap,” he said. Over the last half-century,

Pima Air & Space Museum
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 151 continued on page 152 >>>
Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona at the Harvey and Deanna Evenchik Center for Jewish Philanthropy

continued from page 151

most parents want their children to get an MBA, and not attend a trade school. So, as BFL recruits new employees, “we have to be willing to have a heavy mentoring culture, a teaching institution mentality,” Eves said.

Half of BFL’s employees are on job sites. “There is no working from home,” he said. For the other half, Eves believes, “there’s so much collaborative, ‘in the moment,’ real-time problemsolving” when people are together, in an office. “I’m a fan of having folks in person, but in the same breath, I don’t manage in absolutes or ultimatums. I’m open to when folks need to work from home, as related to the cadence within the employee’s family needs.”


Look around Eves’ office, and you’ll see two metal signs with one word –“Vigilance.” It relates to a paramount value – safety.

BFL Construction uses the “active vigilance” application as part of its safety program. An app, on the phone of

every BFL superintendent, gives daily reminders for their constant attentiveness. At least once a day, superintendents are catching something in the moment of a safety concern.

But it’s not about constant harping on a negative. “We want to point out the good behavior, and celebrate the good behavior as well,” Eves said.

Safety is important as well to JV Driver and its chairman, Bill Elkington. “For him, the way he measures companies, he asks ‘What does your safety look like? What’s your culture?’” Eves said.

The BFL culture

“We’re here to take care of the people,” Eves said, and he is committed to a culture that does so while having fun along the way.

“By extension, we’re one big family,” he said. “We rise in one another’s successes and we get pulled down on each other’s failures. I tell the team, ‘Don’t look for pats on the back outside of these walls, we pat each other on the back in here.’”

BFL has a “think different/build better” program, challenging people to think of different ways to approach things. Team building is critical. That care extends to subcontractors, too.

“As a general contractor, we live and die by our subcontractors, aka Trade Partners,” Eves said. “We want to always be sure we’re maintaining good relationships with our Trade Partners who are performing well, and we’re always looking for new relationships.

“The volume of work is so large,” he said. “We have to be careful not to overload one relationship with too much work.”

The future

As the company’s leader, Eves must think both short- and long-term. In the next two years, BFL must make “a focused push on market segmentation, and diversification,” he said. “That would be the minimum.”

“As a leader of an organization, you have to be thinking beyond 24 months,” while still making sure “everyone’s eating the vegetables on their plate today.”

152 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizMILESTONE Biz
154 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

David Eves

BFL Construction’s New Leader

David Eves has been in the development, commercial, industrial, residential, multifamily, medical and educational construction industries for 34 years. His experience covers a wide range of public and private projects performed across the United States.

His horizontal and vertical construction ventures to date exceed $2 billion.

Eves’ career has included positions as site superintendent, general superintendent, project manager, senior estimator, vice president, president, and senior executive management – adding value to many small and large firms over the years.

Most recently, he spent 14 years as director of construction for the Rancho Sahuarita Management Company, managing the development of more than 11,000 residential units and 300 acres for town center, commercial and industrial uses. He also served as president and qualifying party for (KB-1) ROC General Contracting licenses of the Rancho Sahuarita Construction Co., a sister commercial construction firm.

He’s also managed the homeowners association, attempting to meet the expectations of 18,000 residents. Such work requires “a different skill set than running a job site or a construction company,” Eves said. “I learned a lot.”

“Not every problem was a nail, and it didn’t need a hammer,” he said. It taught him “a different way of approaching and managing. It broadened my gaze on different ways to manage and lead.”

That broader gaze helps Eves in his new role as president of BFL Construction,

where he’s working every day to build upon BFL’s 50-year foundation of excellence in a dynamic, challenging industry fraught with challenges. It’s a huge responsibility, he acknowledges. But he’s putting his experience, and his desire “to learn something new every day,” to BFL’s benefit.

“The stakes are high, and people are entrusting you, your company, your people with millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars that are invested to deliver on something, everything from safety, to timing, to managing the budgets, managing clients’ expectations, managing relationships with the trade partners, and municipalities,” he said.

It’s a heavy lift for this father of five, who can’t identify what he does for fun. “That’s a good question,” he said. “Not enough. Check the box; needs improvement in that department. I enjoy what we do here at BFL, balancing the home life to the career is important.”

Eves always seeks improvement, and relishes a challenge.

He grew up near Louisville, Ky., and came to Tucson in 1981, when about 385,000 people called the region home.

“In the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, Pima County ... was a tough place for a young person to start out and to make a living, particularly within the construction industry,” Eves said. “As an aspiring young superintendent, I wanted to go build larger projects.”

That desire took him to Seattle, Austin, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, building

continued on page 156 >>>

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 155

continued from page 155

large commercial and publicly funded projects. He enjoyed the instant gratification in a project well done, but finds the real reward in the soft side of construction, the “underlying ripple of the benefit to the community” that a building gives to a place, when it is “being used for its intended use, the lives that it’s bettering, and what it’s bettering for the community. Those are the primary rewards.”

BFL Construction Founder Garry Brav lured Eves back from Louisville in 2000. After working his way through the trades, Eves was a superintendent for 12 years, then a project manager for six years, prior to joining the development of Rancho Sahuarita.

“I took off my general contracting hat, put on a developer hat,” and joined the Sharpe family, Sharpe & Associates, in 2006. Together, they built the bones of the master planned community Rancho Sahuarita, the 3,000-acre piece of ground with entitlement for up to 12,000 homes.

Over 15 years, Eves and the company developed thousands of houses, the lake, the water and wastewater treatment plants at Rancho Sahuarita, donated more than 100 acres to the school district, and promoted school bonds ultimately approved by the voters. He served on the Sahuarita Unified School District board for four years.

He jokes that he missed a meeting, so he was nominated to be the community director, managing the Rancho Sahuarita homeowners association. Eves had earned the trust of a mentor, the late Bob Sharpe, founder of Rancho Sahuarita – one of many who have shaped him.

Those mentors include Tom Chesnutt (Chestnut Contracting) Brian Barker (Barker Contracting), Michael Bowman (Sharpe & Associates), Fred Lewis (Sharpe & Associates), Richard Underwood (AAA Landscape), and Ken Sands (El Rio Health)

“I’ve been so blessed within the moment of my walk with great mentors,”

Eves said. “I was full of thirst for knowledge, and aspiring to go build iconic things, so maybe I was fun to mentor. Maybe they felt I was worth pouring heartbeats into, but I’ve always tried to pay that forward, to share the knowledge and pass that on.” If they’re thirsty for knowledge, “I enjoy teaching it.” In fact, were Eves not a leader of a construction company, he “would probably have been a history teacher,” he said.

“Mr. Brav,” as Eves refers to BFL’s founder, taught Eves to pay attention to the numbers of the business. Sharpe encouraged him to get his real estate and broker’s licenses, which Eves did in 2010. He also gained insight from Buddy Kocis of Camwest Group, and Bill Hardesty back in Louisville. All have added to his skill set.

“I’m loyal to a fault,” Eves said. “I’m a big believer in second chances. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Leave more than you take.”

156 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

A Partnership for Progress

BFL Helps Pima JTED Best Serve its Students

In its 50 years of doing business, BFL Construction has delivered for many clients in the education sector. Count Pima JTED among its most satisfied.

Pima Joint Technical Education District offers tuition-free career and technical education to sophomores, juniors and seniors in Pima and parts of Pinal and Santa Cruz counties. Its needs are unique because its students are learning trades and earning credentials that vary from welding technology to veterinary sciences.

Through more than a decade of partnership, BFL understands what’s required to help Pima JTED succeed in serving its students, who help Southern

Arizona as members of a skilled workforce.

“BFL’s quality of work has always and continues to be top notch, with careful attention to our needs and great customer service,” said Pima JTED Superintendent and CEO Kathy Prather.

BFL has assisted Pima JTED on a number of new buildings for its campus at East 22nd Street and Camino Seco as well as its campus at the Innovative Learning Center at The Bridges. BFL Founder and former CEO Garry Brav introduced public-private partnerships that allowed Pima JTED to afford new facilities without having to secure bonds or raise taxes.

For example, JTED entered into a lease-purchase agreement with the Bourn Companies and BFL to buy the land and buildings for the Innovative Learning Center, which opened in 2021. The building includes facilities for high-demand medical pathway programs, technical programs including cyber security and 3-D virtual reality game design, a commercial culinary and nutritional arts teaching kitchen and space for robotics, automation, manufacturing and mechatronics education.

“Garry had the vision to enable BFL to support the vision and mission of

continued on page 160 >>>

158 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 159


continued from page 158

Pima JTED by finding innovative ways to form public-private partnerships,” Prather said. “That approach has allowed us to expand our ability to increase opportunities for all high school youth in our area to have access to state-of-the-art facilities to accompany the premier instructional delivery we offer.”

BFL is building the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Center for Health and Medical Careers at Pima JTED at the Bridges that will also include the Connie Hillman Family Foundation Community Health and Wellness Center and the Potoff Private Philanthropy Veterinary Sciences Center. Ground was broken on the building in May.

When it opens next year, the center will prepare students for careers in healthcare and medicine. The second addition to The Bridges campus will house classroom, laboratory and clinical space for a variety of programs, including Pima JTED’s licensed nursing assistant, medical assistant, public health and veterinary science programs.

The campus at 22nd and Camino

Seco offers classes for students interested in cosmetology, fire service, law, public safety and security. Those interested careers including emergency medical technician, licensed nursing assistant, medical assistant and physical therapy technician also take courses there.

The many facility improvements made in collaboration with BFL are completed with the goal of improving Pima JTED students’ experiences.

“The new facilities allow us to have the space and cutting-edge environment to deliver a high-quality, hands-on experience for our students,” Prather said. “Expansion of our facilities allows us to serve more students as our enrollment continues to grow more than 10% each year.”

BFL President David Eves, who started his position in late 2020, has stepped in to serve as a trusted ally for Pima JTED. Prather is happy to see the partnership continue to thrive and its students reaping the benefits.

“Our projects haven’t skipped a beat and we continue to work with many of the same terrific BFL team members on site,” she said. Biz

160 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
to have the space and cutting-edge environment to deliver a highquality, hands-on experience for our students.”
– Kathy Prather Superintendent & CEO Pima JTED
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 161
162 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizMILESTONE

Five Leaders Join Tech Parks Arizona Board

Tech Parks Arizona has announced the appointment of five new members to the board of directors. University of Arizona Tech Park and The UA Tech Park at The Bridges are owned by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of UArizona.

Campus Research Corporation, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, was established to maintain, develop, operate, market and lease the parks to support the educational, research and land grant mission of UArizona. The CRC board of directors supports Tech Parks Arizona’s leaders in creating long-term sustainability and meaningful impact in the community, region and state.

ELLIOTT CHEU serves as the interim senior VP of research and innovation for UArizona and oversees the university’s research enterprise of more than $824 million in expenditures annually. Cheu is also the associate VP for University Research Institutes, which provides the infrastructure necessary for interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, government, and industry, opening opportunities for research to influence public policy and contribute to economic development. Cheu has been instrumental in a number of previous roles at the university including serving as the interim dean for the College of Science and co-chair for the 2018 strategic planning process for UArizona.

STACEY LEMOS serves as the assistant VP and comptroller for financial services for UArizona. She is responsible for overseeing and ensuring accurate and timely accounting and financial reporting, financial system management,

annual financial audit management, tax reporting and compliance, asset inventory management, payroll operations, and employee-related expense and facilities and administrative rate setting. Lemos spent 27 years serving in various local government finance leadership roles throughout southern Arizona, including the City of Tucson, Town of Sahuarita, City of Willcox and the Town of Oro Valley.

CECILIA MATA is serving an eight-year term on the Arizona Board of Regents, currently sitting as chair elect of ABOR, chair of the University Governance and Operations Committee, and a member of the Strategic Initiatives and Planning Committee. Mata is the founder, president and owner of AllSource Global Management, a professional services company doing business with the Department of Defense. A leader in Southern Arizona and within the Hispanic community, Mata is a member of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Small Business Advisory Board, Association of the United States Army, Women’s Business Enterprise Council-West and Women Presidents Organization.

MONICA VARGAS-MAHAR is the Market CEO of Carondelet Health Network and the CEO for St. Joseph’s Hospital. A seasoned hospital executive, she has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare administration and has served in multiple leadership positions. Vargas-Mahar is chair of the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives and was appointed by The American Hospital Association to its

Carolyn Boone Lewis Equity of Care Award Committee. She also serves on the board for Trinity University Healthcare Administration Program, Association of University Programs in Health Administration and Loretto Catholic High School and is former chair of the United Way of El Paso.

GLENN WILLIAMSON is the founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, former diplomat, mentor, and entrepreneur and public speaker with 35 years of experience. He has served in a variety of executive level roles and his experience includes advanced capital formation, marketing, management, leadership and global business expansion. Williamson connects people and companies both locally and internationally, creating highly profitable mutual success stories. As the leader of CABC, Williamson is focused on uniting government, education and private sectors around specific strategic initiatives in transportation, tourism, mining, and water that will enhance economic growth between Arizona and Canada.

Each new board member brings a unique business-savvy perspective and high-level of expertise to the governance that will enhance the long-term vision for Tech Parks Arizona. The wellconnected business champions have exceptional national and international networks that will be key in supporting the attraction of new investment into the region and advancing economic impact in the community.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 165

TUCSON On The Radar

How the Region is Getting Noticed

Tucson Named No. 6 Best U.S. City for Gen Z – Commercial Café

Tucson was included in a new study ranking the top 20 best cities for Gen Z in an analysis that included metrics such as cost of living, the share of this age cohort within the total population, educational attainment, internet cost, recreational establishments, green commuting and parks per capita. Tucson was the only Arizona city to make the top 20.

Tucson Ranks No. 15 Among 52 Places to Go in 2023

– The New York Times

The iconic daily newspaper included Tucson among its annual list of 52 Places to Go this year. It focused on elements such as food, culture, adventure and natural beaut y in determining the 2023 list. Tucson joined cities such as London; Kangaroo Island, Australia; Bhutan; Martinique and Nimes, France.

Tucson Among North America’s Next 25 Markets for Tech Talent – CBRE

The U.S. commercial real estate services and investment firm included Tucson among 25 smaller markets with strong growth potential. With total tech employment at 16,970, total tech growth of 3% and total tech wage growth of 13%, Tucson was named along with other markets that offer additional talent pools for employers seeking to expand their geographical reach.

166 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023 BizRANKINGS
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 167
168 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023

Spotlight on Entrepreneurs

TENWEST Festival Highlights Innovation

Have you ever considered who created products we use every day? Who invented the cell phone? Whose brainchild was overnight package shipping? And aren’t we all thankful to those who introduced air conditioning to this desert region? We may not know their names, but they have revolutionized the way we live, work and play.

Founded in 2012, Startup Tucson has worked to advocate, support and further entrepreneurs just like these as they launch and grow their businesses. The organization’s TENWEST Impact Festival, being held Nov. 4-10 in Downtown Tucson, aims to foster a culture of innovation by providing attendees an opportunity to discover how the connectivity of ideas and people across industries can create tangible impact in communities of all sizes.

The “TEN” in TENWEST stands for Technology, Entrepreneurship and New creative class–the three themes featured in the festival, according to Festival Director Matt Baquet. The “WEST” portion of the name represents the growing innovation, creative and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the West and specifically in Southern Arizona.

The festival will kick off with the TENWEST StreetFest on Nov. 4, held in the area of 6th Ave. and 6th St. This free event is open to the public and is held to provide an offering for the entire community with interactive activities for all ages. Kinetic Arts Tucson will host an aerial stage with acrobatic performances, and a live music stage will host local, regional, and national performing artists.

“We’re really leaning toward experi-

ential activities. It will be an adventure to walk though. Everywhere you look, something will be going on, including artisan and food vendor booths, a fashion show and a pop-up bar,” said Baquet. “In addition, several of our conference presenters will have a booth or will host some kind of activity to encourage people to the attend the conference.”

Conference sessions will feature highcaliber national speakers, including Lakeysha “Key” Hallmon, who created The Village Market Atlanta. The market showcases a variety of Black-owned businesses in 38 states and four countries, connecting them with consumers, resources and dedicated community partners. She will discuss holistic approaches to building a business and why authentic community-building needs to be part of the process.

Local presenters are also part of the mix. “Tucson and Southern Arizona have amazingly talented individuals who are experts in their industry,” said Startup Tucson CEO Liz Pocock. “Oftentimes those industries don’t exist in Southern Arizona, so they don’t get the recognition locally that they should. We work hard to feature these local heroes doing amazing things behind the scenes as our presenters.”

Joe O’Connell, owner of Creative Machines, is one of those “local heroes” who will speak during the conference.

“He’s one of the biggest hidden gems in our community, a real creative genius,” said Baquet. “His company creates these art installations that are very precise and fabricated to the pinpoint.”

O’Connell will tell the story of how

Creative Machines came to be and how it turns clients’ ideas into huge art installations.

Another popular aspect of the conference is the Pitch Competition where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a group of judges to compete for the top prize of $25,000. “It’s like our local Shark Tank. We received over 100 applications to compete last year,” Baquet said.

xEvents are evening events often including live entertainment. Attendees will notice that the performers at the xEvents are also presenters during the conference. On Nov. 7, Noah Gundersen will perform. He’s a singer/songwriter who has performed music for the Sons of Anarchy TV show. During the conference, he’ll discuss music licensing. Some xEvents will be presented in partnership with Arizona Arts Live and others will also feature food and drink events.

Through all of these activities and presentations, festival planners hope to showcase the connectivity between technology, entrepreneurship, creativity, culture and impact, inspiring attendees to gain the knowledge and inspiration they need to innovate within their own careers and communities.

“TENWEST is a killer week of connection and door-opening opportunities for attendees,” Baquet said. Biz


Date: Nov. 4-10, 2023

For more information:

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 169

From Shoes to Scholarships Educational Enrichment Foundation Boosts Student Success

It’s an investment in student success: The Educational Enrichment Foundation has been supporting students and teachers in Tucson Unified School District for more than 40 years.

The mission is more important now than ever, according to Tremain Ravenell, community outreach and development manager for the nonprofit.

“There is a crisis in Arizona in public education,” Ravenell said. “Arizona ranks 48th in public education spending and has the third highest dropout rate in the nation. TUSD is the largest school district in Southern Arizona, serving more than 41,000 students, and 72% of those students qualify for free or reduced lunch. This creates a gap not only in enrichment of students, but in basic needs as well, and EEF wants to close that gap.”

His compelling pitch garnered the Tucson Electric Power to the People “Audience Choice” Award during Social Venture Partners Tucson Fast Pitch 2023 Main Event last spring. The award is accompanied by $10,000 and Impact Announcements on KXCI.

With an emphasis on the fact that “every dollar counts, every dollar stays local, and every dollar is an investment in the future of children,” Ravenell detailed that EEF prioritizes essential needs for students through Head To Toe support programs. They include Basic Needs Assistance, which provides uniforms, socks, shoes, underwear, hygiene products, backpacks, hearing aids and other essentials.

The Focus on Vision program provides eye exams and eyeglasses for students through a partnership with Na-

tionwide Vision; and a Shoe Shopping program, in partnership with SKECHERS, offers select students new shoes. EEF also offers other assistance and resources.

“Since we are a nonprofit foundation, we can be flexible and nimble in what we provide to students,” said Dawn Bell, EEF executive director. “We can assist with basic needs types of items that will help them to attend school and hopefully succeed because they can see, hear and feel comfortable. Supplying basic needs is vital so students can be confident and go to school without the distraction of those concerns.”

EEF also offers Interscholastics Fee Assistance for qualified, low-income, academically eligible middle school and high school students. Typically, during a school year, EEF covers mandatory fees

170 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
1 2
1) Tremain Ravenell 2) From left – Paloma L. Santiago, Tremain Ravenell, Ryan Matchett, Ciara Garcia

want to bring equity to every student so they can all reach their best potential.”

for sports, fine arts and co-curricular activities for more than 1,500 students, totaling about $85,000.

Ravenell said many students attest that their extracurricular activities give them discipline and tools that help them graduate from high school and continue to college.

To facilitate college success, EEF also offers a College Scholarships program. Last year, more than $11,000 in scholarships were awarded to TUSD seniors pursuing higher education.

EEF support extends to teachers through the Classroom Grants program, which offers grants up to $1,000 for TUSD educators in Pre-K through grade 12. Last year, 114 teachers from 59 schools received more than $102,000 for special projects and supplies to sup-

plement learning and enhance curriculum.

“Teachers need all of the support they can get,” Bell said. “Because of cuts in education funding, many reach into their own pockets to fill needs in their classrooms for pencils, tissues, paper, workbooks, art supplies and special projects. We want to show our support and show that we appreciate them and all that they do. When we support a teacher, that in turn supports their students. In the end, that aligns with our mission to provide resources and enrich student learning in TUSD.”

Ultimately, Ravenell and Bell agree that promoting awareness about the state of public education and the circumstances surrounding TUSD’s 89 schools—77 of which are Title I schools,

in which many students are from low-income families—is a key factor in building support for EEF.

“All children deserve a quality education, regardless of the circumstances that they are born into,” Bell said. “We are working with families that struggle in so many ways that just getting a student to school can be a challenge. Once we get them there, we want to ensure they get a quality education with access to the same kinds of opportunities that other students receive. We want to bring equity to every student so they can all reach their best potential.”

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 171
3 3) From left – Jaime Ibrahim, Tremain Ravenell, Diana Charbonneau, Luke Smith, Heaven Rendon, Amber Folkman, Caroline Isaacs, Ginette Gonzalez
4 5 1 6 9 2 7 10 3 8 11
1. Hakima Abdulkadir 2. Rocky Espinoza 3. Andrew Wilson II 4. Ariana Gonzales 5. Yamilet Abril 6. Jaydon Moore 7. Estevan Valenzuela 8. Yoheved Begay 9. Jocelyn Valtierra 10. Aubrianna Lopez 11. Daniel Miranda

2023 Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson Awards

Hakima Abdulkadir left no doubt why she was named the 2023 Mark Irvin City of Tucson Youth of the Year and the 2023 Boys & Girls Clubs of America Arizona State Youth winner.

Abdulkadir spoke at the annual Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson Youth of the Year recognition banquet at Casino del Sol on June 15, marking its 65th anniversary.

She and her family fled the war in Somalia, then traveled to a refugee camp in Kenya before coming to the United States. In Tucson, Abdulkadir became a member of the Roy Drachman Clubhouse, where club leaders took her under their wing.

She became interested in basketball. “I was terrible,” she said. “I made a basket for the other team. ... Every year I tried to get back on the court and every year I failed.”

But Abdulkadir met a woman at the clubhouse who worked with her mentally and physically. Her clubhouse peers also supported her and she went on to play basketball in high school. She also participated in HeARTWorks and Art Club.

“We have a responsibility, us older ones, us adults,” the graduating senior told an audience of about 600 people. “We have a responsibility to remind children that, yes, they will see the colors of black and white before their eyes. Yes, that is our first reality. But beneath those shadows lie the deep colors of hope, of life, of possibilities.”

Abdulkadir will attend Howard University and major in education and humanities. She was one of 11 club members honored and given scholarships.

“Tonight is all about the youth we serve,” said Denise Watters, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson. “It’s our chance to recognize and honor the accomplishments of every youth who has faced adversity and has overcome challenges to do great things.”

The Click for Kids Award was presented to the Alan and Jan Levin Family. In addition to supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, the Levins have helped El Rio Health, TMC Foundation, University of Arizona, Tucson Girls Chorus, Pima County 4H, YMCA and the American Heart Association–often donating anonymously.

“My philosophy in life is always pass your blessings along,” Alan Levin said. “It’s a lesson I learned from my grandmother. I’ve been very blessed and it’s been an honor to be given this award. ...”

Levin’s son Mike Levin said of the award: “It’s really not about us. It’s really about what we got from our mom and dad over the years. Because out of tenacity and hard work come

blessings, and it was always something that was shown to us through their example.”

The Youth Impact Award went to the Udall Foundation for its Parks in Focus program, which provides youths the chance to participate in an overnighter at a park and learn photography skills.

Other Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson members honored with Youth of the Year Awards:

• Rocky Espinoza – a sophomore at Innovation Tech High School, he plans to attend Pima Community College and transfer to the University of Pennsylvania or the University of Washington and become a pediatric traveling nurse.

• Andrew Wilson II – a senior at Cholla High School, he plans to follow in his family’s footsteps and serve in the Army.

• Ariana Gonzales – having completed her GED, she plans to attend Pima Community College, then transfer to UArizona and major in culinary arts and psychology.

• Yamilet Abril – a sophomore at Canyon Rose Academy, she plans attend either Pima Medical Institute or UArizona and become an ultrasound technician.

• Jaydon Moore – a sophomore at Rincon High School, he would like to attend UCLA and study sports medicine.

• Estevan Valenzuela – the oldest of six children, he would like to serve in the military and study in the medical field or law enforcement.

• Yoheved Begay – a freshman at Pueblo High School, her dream is to attend UArizona and have a career in photography.

• Jocelyn Valtierra – a senior at Catalina High Magnet School, she plans to attend UArizona and pursue a career in finance.

• Aubrianna Lopez – a freshman at Sunnyside High School, she wants to attend college and major in criminal justice, then become an attorney.

• Daniel Miranda – a senior at Mountain View High School, he will attend UArizona and major in aerospace engineering.

Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 173

2023 Tucson Classics Car Show

The 17th Annual Tucson Classics Car Show, presented by the Rotary Club of Tucson and sponsored by WeBuyHouses. com, will be held on Oct. 21.

The Rotary Club of Tucson, with more than 100 years of service to Tucson and Southern Arizona, has 250 active members, representing a wide breadth of community leaders. Its major fundraiser, the Tucson Classics Car Show, is now in its 17th year, providing grants to Southern Arizona non-profits from the show proceeds.

In the past 16 years, the Rotary Club of Tucson Foundation has granted over $2.4 million to improve literacy and support people in need in our community. This year’s focus includes programs supporting education, homelessness services, and mental and behavioral Health.

The Tucson Classics Car Show features over 400 mint condition classic cars, plus an array of unique and extraordinary vehicles, sports cars, trucks, street rods and more. This year’s raffle will offer a spectacular 2016 C-7 Chevrolet Corvette convertible Z 51 or $40,000 in cash, or six other fabulous prizes. The $10 raffle ticket serves as both an entry ticket to the show and a chance to win one of the prizes.

What makes this Car Show so unique is that 100% of the net proceeds will be donated to local charities. This year’s beneficiaries are:

• Pima Community College Foundation’s Workforce program, geared to provide a pathway out of poverty for residents in temporary housing at Gospel Rescue Mission’s Center of Opportunity. The program’s goal is to provide tuition-free training opportunities and future employment

in four focus areas: Building & Construction Technology, Culinary Arts, Information Technology and Logistics/ Truck Driving.

• Big Brothers Big Sisters, which provides and supports oneto-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of high school youths. With this grant, the organization will be able to expand its new innovative Mentor 2.0 program, which combines direct mentoring with teacher interaction and classroom curriculum to support students in three Tucson high schools. This new approach dramatically enhances the support and chances of current and future academic success.

• Old Pueblo Community Services, which believes that the solution to homelessness is housing. When people face homelessness, OPCS offers housing, counseling and support services to help them transform their lives.


Tickets - $10

10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Oct. 21

The Gregory School, 3231 N. Craycroft Rd.

174 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 175

Robert J. Swaim

Beloved Architect, Designer and Dad

If ever there was a man with a great passion for living, it was Robert J. Swaim.

Swaim passed away on May 9 at age 93, but his impact on the community and those who knew him will continue.

In 1969, he started Robert Swaim Architects, which later became Swaim Associates Architects. In the 1980s, he hired recent University of Arizona graduate Ed Marley, and then his own son, Phil Swaim. Both remain with the firm today. Many remember Bob as a great architect. Others say he was a compassionate and generous employer. Phil and Marley knew all sides of the man.

“As an architect, he was a great designer,” said Phil. “That was his great strength. He was an incredible designer and artist.”

Phil recalls the firm having a large project at Reid Park Zoo in the early 1990s that included signage. “We hired the San Diego Zoo artist, but they needed sketches sent first, so Dad created sketches.” It turned out that Bob’s artwork was so good, the zoo used his drawings for the signs. One of those still stands today.

Bob’s passions outside of work, according to Phil, were cycling, restoring vehicles, creating editorial cartoons and UArizona sports. “As we went through his closet, we found that one-third of his clothes were UArizona t-shirts.”

His wife, Donna Swaim, might have had some influence on Bob’s wardrobe, as she worked at the university for 50 years before her passing in November 2020.

“They were pretty impressive,” Phil said of his parents. “It was amazing growing up as Bob and Donna’s son.” Despite their busy lives, Bob and Donna always made Phil and his sister Katy their top priority. “Mom and Dad never missed a swim meet or baseball game. It was a unique partnership they had as parents and we learned by example.”

point I wanted to work for him.” A year after graduating from UArizona with an architecture degree, Marley’s dream came true, and he joined Swaim Associates Architects.

“Forty years later, this November, I’m still here and the longest-term person at the firm,” Marley said. Bob’s commitment to architecture for the community was one of the primary reasons Marley spent nearly his entire career there.

“He liked to create places where people want to be,” Marley said. “Bob was committed to serving the community and he instilled that in us at the firm.”

Marley also admired Bob’s positive relationships with his employees and how he emphasized a team approach with everyone working together.

Bob began his interest in cycling when the kids were young, and he continued that love for the rest of his days. Phil strongly believes it contributed to Bob’s long life. As he got older, Bob’s passion for biking didn’t fizzle. His mode just changed from a bicycle to an electric assist bike and then to a three-wheel trike. “He was still riding with his friends until two weeks before he died,” Phil said.

Marley was a high school student interested in architecture when his dad, a car penter, introduced him to Bob. “I went to talk to Bob and he showed me some of his designs. I knew from that

“It was always working with Bob not for Bob. We’ve carried that philosophy throughout the years; everyone is a team member. What I appreciate, too, is he had a great sense of humor. I sure miss the guy. He was my mentor and we’re trying to carry on that tradition and keep the legacy alive.”

A memorial celebration is being planned for this fall, said Phil. “We’re still trying to figure it out, but we thought it would be fun to have an open house at the house dad designed and lived in from 1968 until he died. I was raised there; it was an amazing place to grow up. We’ll have his editorials and artwork pinned up. He had a passion for whatever he wanted to do and he’d go in wholeheartedly.”

176 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Fall 2023 > > > BizTucson 177

Georgeanne Fimbres A Legacy of Fashion, Family and Flowers

Through fashion, flowers and a “heart of gold,” Georgeanne Fimbres spent a lifetime inspiring students and bringing joy to thousands of brides and families on their special days.

The mother, grandmother, greatgrandmother, teacher and businesswoman left a legacy of giving of herself when she passed away July 10 at the age of 83.

“My mom’s greatest gift was making everybody she encountered feel pow erful, part of something bigger,” said Gabrielle Fimbres, her daughter and a senior communications manager for Roche Tissue Diagnostics in Tucson.

Throughout her life, Georgeanne used her gifts in many ways, through her shop, Villa Feliz Flowers, her nutrition and fashion design classes at Pima Com munity College, and her involvement in Tu Nidito, Angel Charities for Children and Pima Council on Aging.

A Phoenix native, she moved to Tuc son in 1952 at age 12 and later attended the University of Arizona, where she studied fashion, earning a bachelor’s degree in home economics and later, a master’s degree in education. She be gan working at PCC through a federally funded nutrition program in the 1970s.

“I remember my brother, Guy and I going to Sells with her,” Gabrielle said. “We became friends with so many fami lies in the Sells community. We would bring down lots of fresh food and veg gies, and she’d talk about why nutrition was important. When some of those programs went away, she became involved in the fashion program.”

The program’s popularity grew over the years, and some of Georgeanne’s students would progress to the top fashion institutes in New York. Georgeanne’s earliest fashion mentor was local icon Cele Peterson. Georgeanne first worked for Cele while a student at UArizona,

and the two remained devoted friends until Cele’s death in 2010 at 101 years old. “They were incredibly close, not just in the fashion world but in making the community stronger,” Gabrielle said.

“Georgeanne Fimbres was truly an inspirational person, a true champion for students at Pima Community College’s fashion design department and was a driving force for the arts at

Villa Feliz when Guy died in 1993, and the shop remained open for more than 50 years.

Tara Kirkpatrick, a BizTucson editor and freelance writer, hired her to do her flowers for her April 2000 wedding at Westward Look Resort.

“I knew the minute I walked into her beautiful flower shop that I wanted her to do my wedding,” said Kirkpatrick, who remembered that Fimbres used “beautiful yellow roses throughout because I grew up in Texas and those were my favorite. Georgeanne just had incredible taste and style and she gave us such stunning bouquets.”

Carlotta Flores, chef and the owner of Flores Concepts, added: “Where does the word ‘lovely’ have a better definition than when thinking of our dear Tucson treasure, Georgeanne, a tiny stature of a woman with a heart of gold? She can be compared to none other with her creative flower arrangements and her many beautiful and unique fashion designs.”

Kristine Jensen, owner of Gallery of Food, a Tucson catering company, met Fimbres almost 30 years ago when her company was the house caterer of the Stillwell-Twiggs House and Fimbres was coordinating the flowers for weddings there.

storefront at Kolb Road and Broadway by Georgeanne and Guy Fimbres, Georgeanne’s husband. While the intent was that Georgeanne would not have much involvement in the shop, she soon found her passion and talent for floral art and for partnering with brides in bringing their vision to life. Georgeanne became sole proprietor of

“I knew her professionally, but I grew a personal attachment to her,” Jensen said. “I consider her a matriarch of Tucson. Georgeanne was just a really amazing, independent entrepreneurial woman who set the stage for people to come in and be able to set up a business.

“If she was working with you on something, she jumped in with both feet. She was truly a mentor. She made you feel like you could do anything when you were around her.”

178 BizTucson < < < Fall 2023
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.