BizTucson Spring 2024

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The World Is Watching Tucson

This was the bold statement that ap peared on the cover of our premiere edi tion 15 years ago. The World is Watch ing Tucson has become our mantra. Even though local business, education and non-profit features are in every edi tion, Tucsonans have a lot to be proud of, as we collaboratively pave our way into becoming a dynamic world-class city. BizTucson had a vision to create a business magazine that put the spotlight on the area’s little-known success stories, representing our entire region in a posi tive light.

Over the years, our journalists have told the stories that make Tucson such a tremendous and unique city. For this edition, our team reports on 15 Key Sectors that bring the region worldwide acclaim and provide a glimpse of our city’s exciting future.

As BizTucson celebrates its 15th anniversary as the region’s business magazine, thank you to our advertisers, who invest their marketing dollars to reach the C-level executives and decisionmakers in the business community, and to our readers. Thank you to our stellar team of journalists, editors and photographers, who are committed to the highest standards in journalism.

The exceptional creative direction and high journalistic standard all begins with one terrific trio that is always raising the bar and is dedicated and committed to excellence with every detail. Thank you to our Creative Director Brent Mathis, for his exceptional graphic design, photography and sense of style, since our inception in 2009. Cheers to veteran Contributing Editors and Journalists Jay Gonzales and Tara Kirkpatrick, for their “eagle eyes,” wonderful ideas and unwavering dedication to journalistic quality and integrity in reporting, writing and editing. Plus, a heartfelt thank you to my supportive and amazing family, our twins Sara and Matthew, plus his wife Amanda… and especially, to the love of my life, my wonderful wife Rebecca!

One other milestone anniversary that I’m particularly proud of is the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Father’s Day Council Tucson, a dedicated group of volunteers that presents the Father of the Year Awards Gala. This small but mighty team has raised nearly $5 million for Type 1 Diabetes research

Center. The fundraising gala honoring role model Dads, will take place on June 8th at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

All of us at BizTucson salute the 2024 Father of the Year honorees Marcel Dabdoub, Tim Medcoff, Jeff Ronstadt, Jason Wong and U.S. Air Force CMSgt. Terry Hemmitt.

This edition’s Special Report will focus on “The Power of Real Estate,” which plays an integral role in helping our region thrive. Journalist Jay Gonzales writes, “Building an economy in a community is a concept that literally starts from the ground up. To build homes, you need real estate. To build businesses, you need real estate. To build schools, you need real estate:”

“The power of real estate is the power to serve as one of the foundations of all that goes on in a community − its growth, its identity, its way of life,” says Judy Lowe, CEO of the Tucson Association of REALTORS®. David Godlewski, president and CEO of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, calls it a “practical reality” that developers must head to the northwest, southwest and the southeast to create new master planned communities.

This 36-page section is a deep dive on the industries of home building and real estate, reported by Jay Gonzales and Loni Nannini. The report is a collaboration of the Tucson Association of REALTORS® and the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. Mark your calendar for April 19th as “The Power of Real Estate Summit” will take place at the Tucson Convention Center. Steven

Contributing Writers

April Bourie

Rodney Campbell

Jay Gonzales

Tara Kirkpatrick

Tiffany Kjos

Christy Krueger

Contributing Photographers

William Lesch

Brent G. Mathis

Steven Meckler

Thomas Leyde

Loni Nannini

Dave Perry

Steve Rivera

Valerie Vinyard

Romi Carrell Wittman

Chris Mooney

Balfour Walker 4 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024
Publisher & Owner BizTucson BizLETTER Biz Spring 2024 Volume 16 No. 1 Publisher & Owner Steven E. Rosenberg Creative Director Brent G. Mathis Contributing Editors Jay Gonzales Tara Kirkpatrick Editor Emeritus Donna Kreutz BizTucson News Update (Email Newsletter) Brent G. Mathis Tara Kirkpatrick Contributing Technology Director Mike Serres Contributing Project Coordinator Maricela Robles Member: American Advertising Federation Tucson DM-50 Metropolitan Pima Alliance Oro Valley Chamber 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 © 2024 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. BizTucson Phone: 520.299.1005 Subscription Information: Advertising information: Steve Rosenberg 520.299.1005 or 520.907.1012
Spring 2024 BizCONTENTS DEPARTMENTS BizLETTER 4 From the Publisher BizDOWNTOWN 28 Tucson Convention Center Unveils $100 Million Renovation BizCONSTRUCTION 33 $65 Million Paul & Alice Baker Center for Arizona Public Media BizECONOMY 36 Economic Developments in the Region BizLEADER 38 Raytheon Announces New President Phil Jasper BizHONORS Greater Tucson Leadership Community Impact Awards 82 MAN OF THE YEAR: Dominic Or tega 84 WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Desha Bymers-Davis 86 FOUNDERS AWARD: Jana Westerbeke 88 GTL ALUMNI EXCELLENCE AWARD: Elizabeth Slater BizDOWNTOWN 90 Pickleball and More at Corbett’s BizREALESTATE 134 Commercial Real Estate Forecast (CCIM) BizCONSTRUCTION 136 Uptown 138 New To Market Update: Notewor thy Projects BizHONORS Father of The Year Award Honorees: 150 Marcel Dabdoub 152 CMSg t. Terry Hemmitt 154 Tim Medcof f 156 Jef f Ronstadt 158 Jason Wong BizTRIBUTE 142 James Wyant SPRING 2024 VOLUME 16 NO. 1 86 97 FEATURES COVER STORY: 40 THE WORLD IS WATCHING TUCSON 15 KEY SECTORS 42 City of Wellness 44 Aerospace/Defense Mega Region 48 UNESCO City of Gastronomy 50 Space City of The Southwest 54 Silicon Deser t 56 Mining & Sur face Technology 60 Downtown Revitalization 62 Bioscience Hub 64 Arizona & U.S. Military Installations 66 World’s Largest Gem Show 68 Optics Valley 70 Cycling City USA 72 City of The Ar ts 74 Steele Children’s Research Center 76 Why The World Visits Tucson ABOUT THE COVER THE WORLD IS WATCHING TUCSON Creative Design by Brent G. Mathis 150 97 The Power of Real Estate Driving a Thriving Community SPECIAL REPORT 2024 THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE SPECIAL REPORT

More Affordable Care Matters

Health care spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $6.8T by 2030 — a trend that doesn’t show signs of reversing itself anytime soon.¹ For employers, that translates to a 7% forecasted increase in medical costs for 2024,² including double the number of claims sur passing $3M or more since 2016.³

In Arizona, the average per member per month (PMPM) health care costs for employers was $407, which falls in the bottom-third of having the lowest health care costs across the country, according to 2023 UnitedHealthcare data.4

Still, states across the country are seeing year-over-year cost increases.4 Despite the added pressure on their bottom lines, many employers are not willing to compromise on the quality of health benefits they offer, nor are they willing to raise employee contributions to offset their own costs.5 That’s why taking a strategic approach to cost management is so critical.

Strategies that may prove effective for employers include:

• Investing in health plans and networks designed to help make quality care more affordable

• Providing clinical and care management programs that support better health outcomes and lower costs

• Empowering employees with tools and resources that enable more informed health decisions and healthier lifestyles

Health plans and networks designed to help make quality care more affordable

When it comes to group health insurance plans and provider networks, thoughtful design matters. Understanding and selecting the right medical plan and network configuration for their employee population can help ensure employers and their employees get the most out of their health insurance.

Perhaps the most obvious way to tackle the cost of health care is to reduce the amount employees have to pay for their health benefits and health care, before coverage kicks in and when the bill arrives. In other words: premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copays.

Despite the forecasted increase in employer health care costs for 2024, only 16% of surveyed employers said they planned to raise their employee health care contributions — a 6% decrease from the previous year.² In fact, most employers elected to cover 80% of their employees’ health care premiums for those in single coverage medical plans and only slightly less for those under a family plan.6

Because many employers are not willing to pass costs on to their employees, it’s clear they care about reducing costs for their employees. That’s why plans that offer no deductibles or coinsurance, as well as greater visibility around cost and quality, are becoming an attractive option to both employees and employers.

Pairing a health plan with a network that prioritizes providers and health systems with proven quality and cost efficiency may help boost an employer’s cost-savings potential.

For example, plans and networks that encourage or even require employees to establish a relationship with a primary care provider (PCP) who can coordinate and manage their care, including referring out to specialists when needed, have the potential for reduced costs.

Network strategies that pay groups of providers based on the quality of care delivered rather than the volume of services rendered can also help generate better health outcomes and more cost-efficient care. This is the concept behind value-based care arrangements and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Plus, it’s what many employers are asking for, with 58% of surveyed employers wanting additional reporting and better provider quality measurement standards.³

Clinical and care management programs that support better health outcomes and lower costs

Around two-thirds of employers indicated that one of the top 3 areas in which they are seeking the most support in the next 5 years includes strategies for improving care management for high-cost conditions.7

As my colleague, Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, said: “Clinical and care management

22 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizHEALTHCARE

programs are all about providing employees with end-to-end support across the entire health care continuum, which can result in better health outcomes and reduced costs.”

That may look like a cancer-specific program designed to offer employees personalized support in managing their cancer journey, helping them better understand their diagnosis, treatment options and more. Programs like these may also help employees make more informed decisions about their care, which can result in better outcomes and lower costs. Employers may see financial savings, too, through contrac tual discounts and quality-related costavoidance savings.

Delaying or deferring preventive care, ignoring care recommendations or even receiving inappropriate or un necessary care may result in suboptimal health and higher costs. That’s why programs that use data and analytics to enable more personalized care can make a real difference in the lives of employees who are managing high-cost conditions.

Tools and resources that enable more informed decisions and healthier lifestyles

The more employees know, the better decisions they may make concerning their health — and the costs associated with their care.

Employers can help employees get more engaged with their health in a variety of ways, starting with simply encouraging them to make full use of the benefits and resources available to

them. In fact, research showed that higher levels of health plan and program engagement are linked to improved health outcomes, lower costs and higher productivity.8

Helping employees live a healthier life can also impact the costs employers are on the hook for, especially since healthy behaviors have been found to contribute as much as 50% of a person’s health status.8 Offering programs that encourage and reward employees for making informed and healthier lifestyle decisions can reinforce employee wnership over their health and drive lower health care costs long-term.

Clinical strategies, for instance, that help guide employees to the right care, in the right place and at the right cost may help alleviate some of employers’ high costs. Programs that help ensure clinically appropriate procedures and bed days may also result in savings.


Ensuring employees have access to the information they need to make more informed decisions also matters. More effective use of the health system may help employees get more out of the dollars they spend on health care and deliver savings back to the employer.

Providers also have a role to play, and that’s why point-of-care solutions that integrate an employee’s health plan information with a provider’s electronic medical record (EMR) system are so important. These tools allow providers to see which prescriptions are covered and which aren’t, whether there is a lower-cost alternative available and which facilities may be more affordable.

1. CMS Office of the Actuary Releases 2021-2030 Projections of National Health Expenditures. CMS, Mar. 28, 2022. Available https://www. projections-national-health-expenditures. Accessed: Nov. 2, 2023.

2. Employers Anticipate 7% Rise in Health Care Costs for 2024. SHRM, Aug. 17, 2023. Available: hr-topics/benefits/pages/employer-healthcare-cost-projection-2024- international-foundation-employee-benefit-plans.aspx. Accessed: Nov. 21, 2023.

3. 2023 Large Employer Health Care Strategy: Executive Summary. Business Group on Health, Aug. 23, 2022. Available: Accessed: Nov. 21, 2023.

4. UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual book of business data, Dec. 2023. Excludes Hawaii and Alaska.

5. National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. Mercer, 2022. Available: research/national-survey-of-employer-sponsored-health-plans/. Accessed: Nov. 21, 2023.

6. Medical plans: Share of premiums paid by employer and employee for single coverage. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 2023. Available: Accessed: Nov. 21, 2023.

7. Advisory Board 2023 Employer Innovation Survey.

8. UnitedHealthcare large employer analysis of highly activated individuals (HAI >75%) 2018 allowed costs vs. median (adjusted for risk, geography, age/gender, catastrophic claimants). 4.9M members.


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

EI242980304.0 2/24 © 2024 United HealthCare Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 23

Jennifer Barton, an accomplished Arizona leader in the biosciences, higher education and public policy, has been named vice chair of the Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee. The committee, administered by the Flinn Foundation, is the statewide leadership group responsible for overseeing Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the long-term strategic plan to guide the growth and development of the state’s bioscience sector.

Edward Marley, FAIA, has been elevated to the prestigious AIA College of Fellows, the institute’s highest membership honor. A principal at Swaim Associates LTD AIA, Marley has been with the firm for more than 40 years. He’s the only Arizona-based architect to be elevated to AIA Fellowship in 2024, and one of only 96 people overall to receive the honor this year.

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Edward Marley

Larsen Baker Announces

New Equity Partners

Melissa Lal, CCIM and CEO of Larsen Baker announced that four employees at the company were appointed as new equity partners in Larsen Baker Holdings.

The new partners are Isaac Figueroa CCIM, Andrea Grijalva, Ted Herman CCIM and Kelly Rosales.

Larsen Baker Holdings is an Employee Stock Ownership Trust that invests in and receives earned equity in many of the development/re-development projects originated by Larsen Baker. Recent LBH projects include Archwell Health on Broadway, Sol Block in the Sunshine Mile and Chop Shop on Campbell Ave.

“Our new partners have earned their LBH ownership through their commercial real estate expertise and their longtime service (average 17 years!) to our company and our investors/partners,” said Lal.

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Isaac Figueroa, CCIM Andrea Grijalva Kelly Rosales Ted Herman, CCIM
1 2 3 4 5 8 6 9 7 28 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024

Honoring History, Forging Ahead

Tucson Convention Center Unveils

$100 Million Renovation

After an impressive 11-year, $100-million renovation, the Tucson Convention Center is a state-of-the-art facility primed for the future.

City officials and invited guests celebrated the grand changes on Feb. 15 with tours of the updated facility. The city worked with Rio Nuevo, Tucson’s tax increment finance district, to complete the innovative project.

“In my role at Rio Nuevo, we’ve been proud of what we’ve accomplished at this particular site,” said Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker. “It now hosts over half a million people a year at various exhibits, concerts and trade shows.”

The Rio Nuevo District was formed in 1999, and the Tucson Convention Center, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designated as a priority for funding to bring it to a nationally competitive level.

Among the improvements to renovate the entire complex include:

• 233,000 square feet of new and refurbished meeting and event space.

• Increased venue capacity.

• New public walkways and gathering places.

• Water features, sculptures and hardscape, and new eco-friendly landscaping.

• Two parking garages.

• Digital touch points with more than 70 additional display screens and way finders.

• The addition of the Doubletree Hotel.

• Arena renovations.

• Renovation of the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall.

• A new ceiling and chandeliers in the main ballroom along with new wall partitions and tile floors.

High-tech capabilities also were added to the mix of improvements. Wi-Fi and digital signage for branding opportunities, as well as the ability to integrate with apps for participants visiting Tucson in person or virtually.

Coming this year will be the acquisition and restoration of the historic Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House, which is located within the TCC complex. The historic adobe house was built in the 1870s and is one of the oldest buildings in Tucson. It was built following the incorporation of Tucson in 1871 by the Government Land Office and the development of city blocks.

The house, a prime example of Sonoran and Territorial architecture, was nearly destroyed due to urban renewal. But the Tucson Heritage Foundation and Arizona Historical Society successfully fought to have it historically preserved. Today, it serves as a museum.

The site of the TCC was the former continued on page 30 >>>

1. Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker

2. Tucson Mayor Regina Romero

3. Marc David Pinate, producing artistic director at Borderlands Theater in Tucson, curated the app project

4. Prototype examples of the Augmented Reality used in the app 5. Doubletree Hotel

6. Digital signage

7. One of the two new parking garages

8. Linda Ronstadt Music Hall and water feature created by Garrett Eckbo

9. Historic Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 29
“In my role at Rio Nuevo, we’ve been proud of what we’ve accomplished at this particular site.”
– Fletcher McCusker Chairman Rio Nuevo

continued from page 29

Tucson Barrio, and building it displaced roughly 800 people who were living in historic adobe homes and running businesses in the area. In a meaningful nod to history, city officials wanted to honor and acknowledge that in launching TCC’s next chapter.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said, “It’s important that we ground ourselves in acknowledging the stories of these lands. I find comfort in knowing that the (history) of the families of those who lived here will continue.”

Augmented reality is helping to relay the history. AR is the integration of information with the user’s environment in real time. That means users can experience a real-world environment with generated perceptual information overlayed on top of it.

Through an app that can be downloaded to a smart phone, laptop or tablet, TCC visitors can take a narrated walking tour of the 27-acre TCC campus and see photos of historic adobes where they once stood.

Three tech companies made the center updates happen. KLA Laboratories of Dearborn, Mich. installed the hardware. Tru-Xperience of Las Vegas created the graphics and Rypplzz of Los Angeles produced the augmented reality.

Marc David Pinate, producing artistic director at Borderlands Theater in Tucson, curated the app project.

“The dream was that Tucsonans and visitors and nanas and their grandkids can walk through ... with their phone and be transported in time ... to find themselves surrounded by life-size adobe homes and markets right where they actually stood,” Pinate said.

“I’m really happy that we got to this place that we only imagined ...,” Romero said. “This action makes such a difference to this community. It will start an incredible and necessary healing process.”

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Media Move-Up

$65 Million Paul

& Alice

Baker Center for Public Media Breaks Ground

Construction of Arizona Public Media’s new headquarters is off and running.

Groundbreaking for the $65 million, state-of-the-art, three-story facility took place in January at the University of Arizona Tech Park at the Bridges. At the time, funding for the project was at 87%, with $56,504,396 raised.

The building will be named the Paul and Paul & Alice Baker Center for Public Media. The Bakers, who formerly owned and operated Arizona Mail Order Co. Inc., have contributed significantly to UArizona.

“They’ve helped AZPM really move to the next level of its goals,” said Jack Gibson, AZPM’s CEO for the past 18 years.

AZPM has needed a new home for many years. For half a century, it has operated in the basement of UArizo-

na’s Modern Languages Building. The cramped facility contains three TV services, four radio stations and a growing number of digital platforms.

Gibson ticked off a litany of other problems the current location endures: there’s not near enough storage, noise from the HVAC system intrudes on broadcasts, and the state of the space makes it hard to recruit new students and staff.

“We do a pretty good job, but it’s far from the productions we’d like to do,” Gibson said.

Overseeing construction of the new 61,500-square-foot building, Gibson said, “is exciting and it’s terrifying at the same time.” But he and other UArizona officials did a lot of homework before the first shovels of dirt launched construction.

They looked at several locations

for the new building but decided on land at the 65-acre Bridges, owned by UArizona and located 3½ miles south of the main campus. They also visited several other university media centers and asked managers what they would have done differently so they didn’t over build.

The first floor of the new AZPM building will contain Studio A, the main studio, which will include retractable seating, permanent balcony seating, as well as 5,000 square feet of space for large performance groups.

The Community Studio will have the latest audio/visual and connectivity technology and will be available for rent. A welcoming lobby and reception area will be the starting point for visitors, as well as an educational, conversational and social gathering place. Radio continued on page 34 >>>

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 33
“Working with contemporary equipment and working in a space conducive to work is a game changer for those students who work with us.”
– Jack Gibson CEO Arizona Public Media

continued from page 33

production and podcast studios also will be housed on the first floor.

Most of AZPM’s staff will work on the second floor. It is designed for maximum collaboration. Shared workspaces will offer greater mobility, flexibility and efficiency. Content creators will work in spaces designed for optimal productivity.

The third floor will have a rooftop deck and digital conference center with views of the Catalina Mountains in a comfortable modern setting. Both spaces will be used for donor, social or fundraising events. They also can be rented to community groups.

The conference center will have the most innovative and high-tech features. The third floor also will include a costsaving shell space ready for future expansion. Construction is expected to be completed in September 2025 with four to six months needed to install all of its broadcasting equipment, Gibson said.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest boons we can make to give (students and staff) the tools they can work with,” Gibson said. “It really is designed for collaboration and communication and really a sense of belonging that we really don’t have now.”

The new facility will move AZPM to the future of TV, radio and Internet protocol.

“For students, it really does prepare them for the future,” Gibson said. “Working with contemporary equipment and working in a space conducive to work is a game changer for those students who work with us.”

He said the building also will allow AZPM to offer public forums, lectures, political debates, films and other student events.

“One of the real objectives is being able to promote commercial productions, giving students skills in other kinds of production,” Gibson said. And productions will be accomplished in sound-sealed rooms without the intrusion of HVAC noise.

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Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 35



Belden, a designer, manufacturer and marketer of networking, security and connectivity technologies and products across a variety of industrial, enterprise and professional broadcast markets, announced plans to expand presence in Southern Arizona with a new distribution and research and development facility in Tucson, Sun Corridor Inc. said in a news release.

Belden has leased 302,443 square feet at Flint Development’s Tucson Commerce Center, 3610 E. Valencia Road, to build a state-of-theart facility. The company will relocate existing distribution operations from Nogales, Ariz. to Tucson and add R&D capabilities, working in association with the University of Arizona.

“We’re glad to see Belden expand its footprint in Southern Arizona and continue to create jobs for Arizonans,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “With modern infrastructure and proximity to global markets including Mexico, Tucson is an ideal location to support Belden’s distribution and research and development operations.”

Sun Corridor Inc./ Sonora Global

Sun Corridor Inc. and Sonora Global, the economic development organization for the State of Sonora, Mexico, signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding to promote trade and economic development as a megaregion.

In the last year, Mexico has passed China to become the United States’ top trading partner, Sun Corridor Inc. said in a news release. While Mexico has long been Arizona’s top trading partner, the shift at the national level will have significant economic implications for Southern Arizona, Sun Corridor Inc. said in a news release.

“Mexico is the primary recipient of the efforts by manufacturers across a variety of industries to nearshore their operations as Mexico’s manufacturing sector continues to grow. All indications are that this nearshoring shift is occurring. We want to make sure we are well-positioned to capitalize on this opportunity,” said Joe Snell, president & CEO of Sun Corridor Inc.

MHIRJ Aviation Group

The MHIRJ Aviation Group, a maintenance, repair, and overhaul services provider to airline fleets globally, is planning to expand its workforce at Tucson International Airport by adding 100 jobs this year, and more than 250 over the course of three years.

MHIRJ plan to increase its capacity to meet customer demand for the maintenance and operational support by activating additional maintenance lines, the Arizona Commerce Authority said in a news release. To further improve the performance and efficiency of the operations, MHIRJ has decided to invest in site improvement and hiring additional staff.

“We aim to contribute to the economic growth of Tucson through the continued growth of our maintenance activities,” said Ross Mitchell, MHIRJ VP of strategy, business development, marketing, communications, and business operations. “We are committed to growing our facility to meet the demand coming from the market.”

Total Quality Logistics

Total Quality Logistics, the second-largest freight brokerage in North America and one of the largest global third-party logistics firms, is expanding its presence in Arizona with a new office in Tucson.

The company opened its Phoenix office in 2016 and has more than 100 employees at that location. Tucson is TQL’s 57th location nationwide.

“We’ve been in the state of Arizona for seven years and are proud to grow our team and deepen our commitment with this office in the incredible and unique Tucson community,” TQL President Kerry Byrne said. “We chose Tucson because it is a major transportation hub and has a great pool of talent. We’re excited to be part of such a vibrant and growing city.”

TQL joins a growing list of transportation and logistics companies in Tucson and Southern Arizona serving over 45 million people in a 500-mile radius.

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Raytheon Announces New President Phil Jasper

RTX announced that Phil Jasper has been appointed president of Raytheon and will report to President and COO Christopher T. Calio.

Jasper, a 31-year aerospace and defense veteran, succeeds Wesley D. Kremer, who is retiring.

“Phil is a proven leader with significant depth of experience delivering defense solutions to the military customer,” said Calio. “His recent integration of RTX’s connected battlespace solutions, a critical customer priority and growth driver for the company, is one of many business transformations he has led over his career. I am confident he will drive the newly restructured Raytheon business to accelerate performance to effectively meet customer commitments.”

As president of Raytheon, Jasper, 55, will serve as a member of the RTX senior leadership team and will be responsible for leading the business and its industry-leading franchises in missile defense, air-to-air missiles, fire control radars, and electro-optical/infra-red systems.

In 2018, Jasper was named president of Collins Aerospace’s Mission Systems strategic business unit, responsible for delivering military, government and civil solutions to help customers worldwide safely and successfully complete their most complex missions. He transitioned commercial aerospace technologies to the defense sector, delivering innovation in battlefield communications and networking solutions. In addition, Jas-

per designed, developed and integrated multiple mission-specific capabilities for military aircraft, including airdrop; refueling; intercept; and guidance and control products and functions.

Kremer has served in executive leadership positions since 2003 and was named a business president in 2015.

“Wes has contributed significantly to the advancement of missile defense systems for the U.S. and its allies and played a critical role in structuring the Raytheon business in 2023,” Calio said. “We thank him for his many contributions to RTX and wish him well as he retires from the company.”

38 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizLEADER


What makes a global city?

From the start, BizTucson has been inspired by that very question. For 15 years, our writers have investigated and pursued the many reasons Why the World is Watching Tucson and delivered them to our readers, both in our quarterly magazine and now, in our bi-weekly newsletters.

From our region’s prowess in space and defense to our growing prominence in bioscience, optics and mining. From our world-renowned Steele Children’s Research Center run by a true medical pioneer to our rapidly growing “Silicon Desert” that is advancing technology for a digital future. From being named UNESCO’s first City of Gastronomy to an unequalled gem show that brings the planet’s best jewels and fossils here each year.

Tucson is, all at once, a City of Wellness, a City of the Arts, a Cycling City and so much more.

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we proudly feature the 15 key business sectors that continue to put our city on the world map of making an impact.

City of Wellness

Tucson is Wellness Central, with 300-plus days of sunshine for active living, worldclass spas, home to Dr. Andrew Weil... need we say more?

Aerospace & Defense Mega Region

Led by No. 1 private employer Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor with global contracts, our city boasts 200+ aerospace and defense companies and 25,000 employees. Page 44

UNESCO City of Gastronomy

One of the first U.S. cities to get the global designation, Tucson boasts noteworthy cuisine, James Beard Award winners and top Yelp-ranked restaurants. Page 48

40 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 THE WORLD IS WATCHING TUCSON
2 3
University of Arizona & AEROSPACE/DEFENSE SECTOR Spring 2020 University of Arizona Patio Pools & Spas & CITY OF WELLNESS WINTER 2021 Sun Corridor Inc. &

Space City of the Southwest

Space X who? Tucson boasts numerous stellar space companies with innovations that lead the country. It’s fueled by a space -forward University of Arizona that is behind successful missions reaching the stars.

Page 50

Silicon Desert

Expansions by American Battery Factory, Sion Power and Involta add to an already thriving “Silicon Desert” anchored by IBM, the U.S. patent development leader, and Tech Launch Arizona.

Page 54

Mining & Surface Technology

Caterpillar’s decision to expand here in 2016 and its projected $600 million impact has added to companies such as Hexagon and Komatsu that are honing next-gen mining here.

Page 56

Downtown Revitalization

Steered by Rio Nuevo and Downtown Tucson Partnership, Downtown Tucson is a hip new draw for foodies, world-class music and entertainment, and young, urban living.

Page 60

Bioscience Hub

Home to Roche Tissue Diagnostics, the global Critical Path Institute and UArizona’s BIO5 Institute, the region has made significant strides in its growing bioscience sector. Page 62

Arizona & U.S. Military Installations

The region’s military bases, anchored by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca, play a leading role in U.S. national defense and contribute to a $15.5 billion economic impact in Arizona.

Page 64

World’s Largest Gem Show

The Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is the largest, oldest and most prestigious in the world, annually bringing in buyers from more than 40 states and 17 countries.

Page 66

Optics Valley

Kudos to BusinessWeek for giving the region this nickname in 1992. Tucson is home to world-class companies and institutions leading the way in optics, photonics and astronomy.

Page 68

Cycling City USA

Buoyed by El Tour de Tucson, voted the No. 1 U.S. Road Cycling Event, and equally top-ranked The Loop, an awardwinning path that circles the city, the region draws cyclists from all over the world to train and compete.

City of the Arts

With a professional ballet, symphony, Broadway and regional theater, global music festivals and renowned art galleries, this desert city is a true arts mecca.

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Steele Children’s Research Center

The renowned Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan has built a formidable children’s research center in the West, fueling life-changing research and care for Type 1 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases and more Page 74

Why the World Visits Tucson

A record-breaking year for tourism in 2022 is just the latest boon for an oft-visited city named one of the World’s Greatest Places by Time Magazine.

Page 76

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 41 THE WORLD IS WATCHING TUCSON 4
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SPECIAL REPORTS: The University of Arizona BIO5 Institute The Clements Agency & 2012: THE YEAR AHEAD + Joint Technical Education District 20 Rising Stars & Arizona Technology Council Boys Girls Clubs of Tucson Next Gen Leaders 2024 20 Rising Stars to Watch & Davis-Monthan: U.S. Air Force Base of the Year SPECIAL REPORTS: Sun Corridor Inc. Carondelet Health Network Casa de la Luz Hospice & + The Gregory & $9 6 BILLION ARIZONA ECONOMIC IMPACT WINTER 2022 SPECIAL REPORTS: at Saguaro Ranch United Way of Tucson & SPECIAL REPORT: + FOR REGION’S $2.4 BILLION TOURISM INDUSTRY NEW BRAND WHY THE WORLD VISITS TUCSON + Tucson Airport Authority Amazon Fulfillment Center Rio Nuevo Extended & ––

City of Wellness

With its optimal climate, natural landscapes, and pioneer spirit, Tucson has emerged as an epicenter of health and wellness, capturing the attention of the world.

For more than a century, people have flocked to Tucson seeking respite from illness and an opportunity to lead a balanced lifestyle. With a dry climate and more than 300-plus days of sunshine each year, Tucson was originally a destination for asthma and tuberculosis patients. Today, visitors travel from far and wide to experience Tucson’s premium amenities and renew their minds, bodies, and spirits in the desert.

Let’s start with the spas. World-class resort spa Canyon Ranch put Tucson on the wellness map, founded here by the late-Mel Zuckerman and his wife, Enid, and now a renowned global brand. Zuckerman, who passed away last year, was a visionary for healthy living who made the Canyon Ranch name tops in the world spa industry. His generosity

the University of Arizona.

Joining Canyon Ranch is Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa, which has become a beloved celebrity destination for its innovative wellness programs at its sprawling northwest Tucson grounds. It has even partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to create events that fuse mindfulness and mental health. Anchored by these, the city boasts numerous spas at resorts, including Omni Tucson National Resort, Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort and more.

The spas are perfectly rooted in a city with miles of hiking, walking and biking trails. Add in Tucson’s status as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, and you have a top pick for travelers looking to rest, recharge and reboot.

Most recently, Tucson captured attention as the new home of the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Andrew Weil,

Harvard-educated physician, prolific author of numerous books on wellness and literally the pioneering face of integrative medicine after years of global

research, has always felt Tucson was a fitting home. “I consider Tucson the Wellness Capital of America,” Weil said. His $15 million gift to UArizona paved the way for this groundbreaking center.

The center, which opens its new headquarters here this spring, will be a world leader in training physicians and allied health professionals in healing-oriented medicine. The center’s three buildings will form the Mind-Body-Spirit of the organization and help to further cement Tucson’s reputation as a City of Wellness.

Weil and his team also recently opened True Food Kitchen at La Encantada in the Catalina Foothills. The restaurant, which opened in November 2023, boasts a menu that is intentionally sourced from responsible and sustainable growers, farmers, and producers.

“We have always been looking to expand in our home state of Arizona, and Tucson is the perfect next move for our brand,” said Food Kitchen CEO. “Our Tucson loca tion is very special for many reasons –mainly t

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founder, Dr. Andrew Weil. We currently have a selection of menu offerings that are only available in Tucson.”

Tucson is also home to the No. 1 bike race in the nation, El Tour de Tucson, and amenities like The Loop, a topranked 130+ mile path that circles the city and has added to Tucson’s acclaim as a pedestrian, bike-friendly, and fit ness-oriented ecosystem.

From cycling to movement, Tucson is the international headquarters for Fletcher Pilates, a method honed by the late Ron Fletcher, a longtime student of creators Joseph and Clara Pilates. At its location at River and Campbell roads, Fletcher Pilates is both a school and a studio that teach a method that remains one of the only directly linked to the Pilates creators.

and children with developmental disabilities, cancers, genetic conditions and more through its different programs and new healing center.

to eating, exercising, and daily life. “It was developed locally by people who ran Canyon Ranch, so they very much know a thing or two about wellness,” said Michael Guymon, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber.

As more and more people turn to whole-body wellness and holistic healing, Tucson rises as a model city primed to lead health and wellness into the future.

It’s no wonder that the region is also home to many innovative nonprofits focused on health. Therapeutic Riding of Tucson, for example, uses equine therapy to help heal adults, children and

The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce has even collaborated with a wellness app to promote wellness throughout the community. Created by, the app assists people in making healthy choices when it comes

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 43 THE WORLD IS WATCHING TUCSON

Aerospace & Defense Mega Region

The Tucson region is a vital and global hub for the aerospace and defense industries.

The economic impacts are staggering with more than 200 companies located here and a region that’s home to the fifth-highest concentration of aerospace and defense employees in the country.

“Aerospace and defense companies offer high wages, at every level, for all our citizens,” Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., told BizTucson in 2022. “These industries lead to a stronger economic foundation for all.”

More than a century after the industries discovered Southern Arizona’s hospitable climate, local and national companies continue to make news. In fact, Tucson is ranked a top 10 metro for aerospace manufacturing due to its highly concentrated aerospace product and parts manufacturing sector, according to Sun Corridor Inc.

Raytheon, an RTX business, is the largest private employer in Southern Arizona and a true kingpin of our economy, with more than 70 years here. With a Tucson campus of more than 12,000 employees, Raytheon provides the most advanced solutions to detect, track and engage threats in the air, land, sea, space and more. In addition to its sprawling campus, the company opened a new engineering office last year at University of Arizona Tech Park to foster collaboration and develop new talent.

“We’ve created a hub of technology right here in our backyard in Tucson, Raytheon President Wes Kremer told BizTucson in 2022. After leading the company in many capacities since 2003, Kremer retires this year and Phil Jasper succeeds him as president.

In recent news, an interceptor built at Raytheon’s Tucson headquarters successfully destroyed an intermediaterange ballistic missile in testing. The company also announced it’s designing, building and testing high-power micro-

wave antenna systems for the U.S. military.

The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a contract to produce and deliver more than 1,500 StormBreaker smart weapons. StormBreaker is an air-to-surface, network enabled weapon that can engage moving targets in all weather conditions.

In addition to Raytheon, our region is home to numerous aviation companies with global assets, including Ascent Aviation Services, Bombardier, Parker Meggitt, Sargent Aerospace & Defense, FreeFall Aerospace, Universal Avionics, MHIRJ Aviation Group and more.

Ascent Aviation Services has two facilities in Southern Arizona, in Marana and near Tucson International Airport, where the company delivers heavy maintenance, repair and overhaul services for aircraft. Bombardier’s Tucson Service Centre, which is closing in on 50 years here, is maintaining and refurbishing business aircraft and regional jets–one of only a few locations on the

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continent that is a one-top shop. Founded in 1920, Sargent has supported the aerospace and defense industry by manufacturing specialty bearings products from its 155,000-square-foot campus in Tucson.

FreeFall Aerospace develops antenna technology for satellite communications, fixed and mobile ground stations, aerial platforms and a variety of commercial and government applications. It was recently accepted into the 2024 National Security Innovation Network Emerge Accelerator program, which connects Department of Defense mission partners with emerging technology teams and startups at the nation’s top research universities.

“As a company dedicated to developing low-cost antenna technology for ground and space applications, being a part of the Emerge Accelerator is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our innovative solutions and contribute to advancing technology for civilian and

165,000-square-foot corporate headquarters in Tucson is home to electronic assembly, test and repair facilities, which build and support its avionics products for customers around the world.

MHIRJ recently made headlines with its renewed commitment to Tucson. The MRO provider to airline fleets globally is planning to expand its workforce at Tucson International Airport by adding 100 jobs this year, and more than 250 over the course of three years.

“This expansion demonstrates the confidence MHIRJ has in the value proposition of Tucson as a leader in the aerospace and aviation industry,” said Snell of Sun Corridor Inc.

Finally, fueling the aviation talent pool here is Pima Community College, which operates its Aviation Technology Center near the airport. A $21 million expansion just two years ago more than doubled the state-of-the-art facility from 35,000 square feet to 87,000 square feet and adds a second hangar large enough for large commercial aircraft, five new classrooms, five new labs, a new tool crib, break room and new offices for the administrative team.

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46 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizGLOBAL

UNESCO City of Gastronomy

Tucson was designated as the country’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in large part in recognition of its long history of using indigenous and Spanish ingredients in restaurant menus and in residents’ homes.

“The designation of Tucson as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy was a great way to validate something already happening in Tucson,” said Felipe Garcia, Visit Tucson president and CEO. “Our local gastronomy is on par with the top culinary destinations around the world.”

This designation went further than acknowledging that our chefs can create some delicious entrees. As one of the country’s oldest, continuously inhabited and cultivated region, Tucson’s noteworthy gastronomical heritage has been in the making for 4,000 years.

Only 50 Cities of Gastronomy exist in the world. To qualify, a city must

demonstrate that it possesses all of the following characteristics:

• Well-developed gastronomy that is characteristic of the urban center and/or region;

• Vibrant gastronomy community with numerous traditional restaurants and/or chefs;

• Indigenous ingredients used in traditional cooking;

• Local know-how, traditional culinary practices and methods of cooking that have survived industrial/technological advancement;

• Traditional food markets and a traditional food industry;

• Tradition of hosting gastronomic festivals, awards, contests and other broadly targeted means of recognition;

promote the health benefits and unique flavors of heritage ingredients like chiltepins, cholla buds, prickly pear pads and fruit, mesquite flour, tepary beans, and White Sonoran wheat.

“Tucson celebrates and is proud of its origins and its diversity,” Garcia said. “Our community has been inhabited by the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui tribes for thousands of years, and we have welcomed and embraced the cultures of immigrants from Mexico, China, and all over the world. We are a unique place that is proud of its identity.”

Travel is the leading export-oriented industry in Arizona, and according to the World Food Travel Association, visitors spend approximately 25% of their travel budget on food and beverages. Cities of Gastronomy benefit from increased global media exposure, which in turn results in increased tourism.

• Respect for the environment and promotion of sustainable local products;

• Nur turing of public appreciation, promotion of nutrition in educational institutions and inclusion of biodiversity conservation programs in cooking schools curricula.

Two-thirds of Tucson’s 1,200+ restaurants and bars are locally owned, compared to the national average of 40%, and Tucson has 12 times the number of locally owned food trucks and carts per capita than New York City.

According to Visit Tucson, the city’s culinary heritage encompasses distinct Mexican and Native traditions in both food and drink. Many of our chefs often

“Southern Arizona looks – and tastes – like nowhere else in North America,” said Graeme Hughes, Visit Tucson executive VP. “Tucson’s culinary scene has long had a loyal following, but now the secret is out. We’re attracting national and international travelers to our tables because our unique food culture is a primary motivator for visitation.”

More recently, Visit Tucson has begun to claim that Tucson has “America’s Best Mexican Food.” Crediting “sizzling street food to family-owned gems hidden in colorful barrios in addition to platefuls of authentic south-of-theborder flavor from mouthwatering Sonoran hot dogs to rich Oaxacan mole and everything in between,” Visit Tucson’s website states that Tucson is a ha-

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ven for adventurous foodies “looking to spice things up.”

Many of the chefs using heritage ingredients in our Mexican food and other dishes have been recognized by the James Beard Awards, which recognizes exceptional talent in the culinary arts. Those chefs, both winners and nominees, include Janos Wilder, El Guero Canelo’s Daniel Contreras, Barrio Bread’s Don Guerra, El Charro Café’s Carlotta Flores, Boca Tacos y Tequila’s Maria Mazon, Tito & Pep’s John Martinez and Tumerico’s Wendy Garcia. This goes to show that our famous chefs know exactly what to do to keep diners wanting more.

Our culinary special events support Tucson’s City of Gastronomy designation. From the Agave Heritage Festival held each spring to the Pueblos del Maiz held each May and Tucson Meet Yourself, held in the fall, there are many ways for visitors and residents alike to experience and enjoy Tucson’s variety of delicious and unique cuisines.

In addition to Visit Tucson, Tucson City of Gastronomy programs incubate and promote local food businesses through certifications and endorsements of restaurants, food artisans, culinary events and experiences. TCOG also develops and enhances culinary events by increasing collaborations across local organizations. In addition, TCOG brings together chefs from all over the world to promote Tucson’s

culinary options internationally. In so doing, the organization has sent chef ambassadors to sister Cities of Gastronomy in seven countries to share Tucson’s food heritage and cuisine globally.

All of these efforts help Tucson to maintain its worldwide reputation as a destination for enjoying unique dishes, cooking classes and food-based events that have their foundations in our rich cultural heritage.


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Space City of the Southwest

Those in the space industry have their eyes on Tucson because “we are world class,” in the words of University of Arizona College of Science Dean Carmala Garzione.

The space-slicing science begins at UArizona.

UArizona technology has allowed the James Webb Space Telescope to capture stunning, revealing images of 19 spiral galaxies similar to our Milky Way.

There’s no more powerful telescope than the Webb. For now, that is.

Early in the 2030s, on a mountain in Chile, the Giant Magellan Telescope will deploy seven 27½-foot mirrors created in the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab beneath Arizona Stadium. It will be the most powerful telescope ever built. No-

body makes larger, more precise, more light-harvesting mirrors than UArizona.

Meanwhile, in Houston, the stubborn lid has been taken off the OSIRIS-REx canister that carried pieces of the asteroid Bennu billions of miles back to Earth. In total, the $1.2 billion UArizona-led mission returned 121.6 grams of Bennu rock and dust, twice as much as intended. Now, with extra fuel, its spacecraft is on a $200 million bonus mission, speeding to meet the stony, metallic asteroid Apophis in 2029.

In fiscal 2022, UArizona research expenditures reached $824 million. “Our goal is to get to $1 billion, which would put us in elite company” among U.S. universities, according to Elliott Cheu, UArizona interim senior VP of research and innovation, and a leader of the cutting-edge Applied Research Building.

That investment is “creating an amazing ecosystem for workforce development,” Cheu said. UArizona’s “deep involvement with the space ecosystem” launches “spinoff technologies from our faculty that end up becoming start-up companies.”

This rich academic and business environment – along with its dark, clear skies -- makes Tucson incredibly attractive to space companies.

“Arizona is one of the great aerospace capitals of the world,” said Jim Cantrell, founder of Phantom Space Corporation. Phantom has recruited talent from major space players across the country. “They’ve all come to work here in Tuc-

son, and they love it,” he said.

“It’s a great place to establish your business,” agreed Ryan Hartman, president and CEO of World View. “When you’re recruiting talent into a company … Tucson is a great aerospace city.”

“One of the smartest decisions we made was to base Paragon in Tucson,” said Grant Anderson, president and CEO of Paragon Space Development Corporation, which has been part of every human space program since 1999. “It was also the easiest decision to make.”

Paragon is creating next-generation spacesuits, and the “apartments” for people circling the Moon. Its brine-processing system is already making drinkable water for astronauts. Paragon soon will provide the high-altitude spacesuit for the first-ever stratospheric balloon jump by a woman.

In that stratosphere, at 100,000 feet, World View’s balloons allow peerless monitoring of the Earth’s surface. World View is developing its technology for space tourism, intending to take guests to six wondrous global spots such as the Grand Canyon or the Great Barrier Reef ... then transport them to the space above.

Phantom “wants to be the Henry Ford of space,” Cantrell said, utilizing mass production to “launch vehicles and satellites, to make space more universally accessible, and also to bring the cost down and make getting things into space more rapid.”

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vations in space lead the country.”

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Silicon Desert

The Silicon Desert is gaining heat in Southern Arizona.

As evidence, industry leaders point to dirt-breaking, new company expansions, the diverse tech sector’s continued robust performance, and the assets of location, education and workforce, and a collaborative business spirit.

“As much as Santa Clara and San Jose are the heart of the Silicon Valley, Tucson is a geo-rival for technology breakthroughs,” Calline Sanchez, IBM VP of Technical and Lifecycle Service Offerings, Arizona and New Mexico state executive and Tucson site leader, told BizTucson in 2022. “With companies like IBM, local technology clusters and support organizations, the Silicon Desert is “here, it is growing, and it is making a difference.”

In October, American Battery Factory broke ground on its global world headquarters near Tucson International Airport. ABF is building its first “gigafactory,” a $1.2 billion, 2-millionsquare-foot space for up to 1,000 employees. There, the company intends to

accelerate “growth of the clean energy economy nationwide,” said ABF President John Kern.

American Battery Factory selected Tucson because Arizona is “a premier destination for emerging technologies,” Kern said. He cited collaborative, world-class companies, and the region’s “high-capacity border and transportation infrastructure. We are pleased to join this thriving region.”

Late last year, Involta announced plans to expand capacity at its 38,000-square-foot, 10-year-old, thirdgeneration, world-class data facility in Tucson, enabling local clients to “scale rapidly, and optimize digital and AIfocused initiatives.”

Involta sees “a remarkable transformation” under way in Southern Arizona. It characterizes Tucson as “a burgeoning technology hub, and “a hotbed for growth” in Involta’s key technology, manufacturing, aerospace, and healthcare sectors. And it finds “a well-educated workforce and a perpetual pipeline of new top-tier talent,” thanks to the University of Arizona and Pima Community College.

Sion Power Corporation, a leading technology developer of next-generation batteries, has also announced plans to expand its existing manufactur ing operations here. The expansion, planned at a 111,400-square-foot building in midtown, is expected to be complete in 2026 and add more than 150 engineering, technician and man ufacturing jobs.

“Tucson is now in the national spotlight,

and will be a cutting-edge region ushering in new battery storage technology,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor, Inc.

“You’re going to see a lot more of those companies coming to Tucson,” said Karla Morales, VP of Arizona Technology Council, the voice and face of the state’s tech industry. “There are so many things that are incredibly innovative and technology-focused in Southern Arizona.”

In fact, Tucson ranks 13th on CBRE’s most recent annual List of Up-andComing Tech Markets.

“Tucson is highly desirable due to several factors, including tax incentives, investments in innovation and focus on increasing efficiencies to reduce power consumption,” said Ken Kremer, Involta’s chief technology officer. “In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, it’s critical for organizations to scale quickly while remaining compliant and gaining access to the highest caliber of technology and expertise.”

IBM drives such innovation. In 2022, IBM received 4,398 U.S. patents, with 163 of these patents earned in Arizona, Sanchez said. “This, along with University of Arizona’s 92, and Arizona State University’s 160, showcase both the region, and the site’s importance to ilicon Desert’s innovation ecosystem. IBM and the Southern Arizona community are working ogether to drive innovation.”

IBM’s Sanchez added, “today, hybrid cloud and AI e swiftly becoming the locus of commerce, transactions, and over

54 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024
Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 55 118 BizTucson < < < Summer 2019 By Mary Minor Davis IBM Impact on Tucson & the World Tucson BizTECHNOLOGY Calline Sanchez IBM VP, Worldwide Systems Lab Services and Technical Universities, Tucson Site & New Mexico State Executive Summer 2019 > > > BizTucson 119 40+ Years of Innovation in the ‘Silicon Desert’ By June C. Hussey Arizona was but two years old, Congress Street was being paved for the first time and an industrious young businessman named Thomas Watson Sr. had just been appointed manager of a New York enterprise called Computing – Tabulating – Recording Company. The year was 1914 and the world, though entering a war of a previously unknown scale, was buying up the newfangled meat slicers and coffee grinders being distributed by his innovative Manhattan-based company. It would be several decades before this growing company would set up shop in Arizona –but when it did, it was here to stay. Driven by global ambition and post-war economy, Watson had by then renamed the company International Business Machines. Known throughout the world today simply as IBM, the cognitive and cloud platform company is ranked by Forbes as the 17th most valuable brand in the world. With more than 350,000 employees in 170 countries, IBM has come a long way from selling tabulating machines. From electric typewriters to mainframes, floppy disks, PCs, magnetic stripes, UPC barcodes and cognitive systems like the aptly named “Watson,” IBM has brought forth a parade of continued on page 120 >>> PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

Mining & Surface Technology

Mining has been a major industry contributor to Arizona’s economy and workforce for well over a century, and it helped our state earn The Cop per State nickname in 1912.

According to the Arizona Min ing Association, in 2018 the min ing industry provided a statewide economic impact of approxi mately $6.5 billion and supported 38,963 jobs pa $102,859.

In Southern Arizona alone, mines and mining-related busi nesses have been actively growing the industry for years, with some moving here more recently.

Freeport McMoRan, the larg est publicly traded copper pro ducer in the world, has been mining the Sierrita open-pit mine south of Tucson since acquiring the site from Phelps Dodge in 2007, the same year

the country and in Europe felt “splintered,” and bringing them together in location would create better synergy. “These different product groups would be able to e resources more and be able to work as a systems team. We also wanted to get them closer to mining and customers.”


ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company), which primarily mines copper, is based in Tucson. Its three largest open-pit mines are located in Pima and Pinal counties. ASARCO’s history goes back to 1888 when it was owned by a partnership that included William Rockefeller. It was then sold to the Guggenheim family in 1901.

A true icon of American industry, Caterpillar saw the attraction of locating its Surface Mining & Technology Division to Tucson, opening its new facility west of Downtown Tucson in 2019. Prior to making the move, Tom Bluth, Caterpillar VP of the Surface Mining & Technology Division, talked with BizTucson about the company’s vision for the coming years here.

“We view this as a long-term decision,” Bluth said. He explained that having team members scattered around

Bluth admitted that one of the strongest things going for Tucson as a selection site was that Caterpillar already had a local presence with the Tucson Proving Grounds, where equipment is developed and tested. When Bluth with Caterpillar’s local employees, their comments helped seal the deal. “They were very favorable to Tucson as a place to live. When I heard them say they prefer not to leave Tucson, that really helped me feel better about it.”

UArizona plays an important role in mining, having produced hundreds of graduates from the College of Engineering who are now working in the industry. In 2021, UArizona opened the School of Mining & Mineral Resources, which focuses on sustainability in the industry. And Pima Community College contributes to the workforce through its courses in mining technology, an area that is growing throughout the world.

The availability of a locally trained workforce is one branch on the mining tree that helps draw large corporations to the region. Hexagon’s Mining division, which concentrates on mining technology, established its world head-

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quarters in Tucson in 2018. “We run a global mining division out of Tucson with about 1,300 people worldwide,” noted Hexagon divisional president Nick Hare. “Our solutions cover every step in the life of a mine from design and planning, to extraction, haulage and safety at mines.”

“We need the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management in addition to their mining and engineering schools,” Hare said. “The expertise transmitted to their students is really important. In fact, Hexagon worked with UArizona to build a class called Mining 4E. We use it for onboarding new engineers and knowledge-building for non-specialist roles where understanding industry basics is a plus. We certainly benefit from being an economic and education hub.”

The trends in mining technology now, he said, are automation, safety and sustainability. “It’s like we’re taking multiton haul trucks and turning them into

Teslas, being able to run and navigate them in a safe and sustainable way. Tucson is interesting for the development of these technologies because of the proximity of equipment providers and mines like Caterpillar, Komatsu and TuSimple. And Freeport and Magma Copper mines are nearby.”

Hare stressed the importance of safety and worker health. “Mining can be very dangerous and that’s where our Collision Avoidance Systems, Personal Alert and Operator Alertness Systems are part of technology. We can intervene with a vehicle, we can control it and hard-stop it if we see a possible collision.”

Hexagon and the mining industry in general are also focusing on the carbon footprint and the return on their investment. “Many companies are now dictating safety,” said Hare, “but also the carbon footprint.”

The reasons for Hexagon’s loyalty to Tucson are numerous, including the proximity to mines and customers, the weather, good education and accessibility of airports in Tucson and Phoenix. “Mining is a critical industry for the world,” Hare said. “We need these commodities and resources, and extracting and moving them in the most efficient, safe ways for people and the planet is foundational.”


Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 57

Downtown Revitalization

In the simplest characterization of the revitalization that has taken place in Downtown Tucson, it was like someone with patience and a vision lined up 1,000 dominoes then watched them fall.

Since about 2018, when the AC Hotel by Marriott opened as the first new hotel built downtown since the early 70s, Downtown Tucson has gone from a central core dominated by government offices and deserted streets at night to a thriving urban center.

People are working, living and playing there.

How the revitalization came together wasn’t rocket science, but it had order and it took vision, said Fletcher McCusker who, as the board chair for Rio Nuevo, has played a major role in what has become a reason the world is watching Tucson.

In the many rankings Tucson has received for its livability, cuisine and activities, downtown is a contributing factor.

“I would say it’s all organic, but it’s not the result of any genius master plan

on our part,” McCusker said. “A number of things contributed to it.”

It started with a new hotel, the AC Hotel’s opening in 2018 as the first hotel to open downtown since 1973. Then came the restaurants. Then came the housing. Each of those was like a domino that led to another one falling, then another, then another until our downtown came to life.

“Food and beverage is contagious,” McCusker said. “Once you have a really cool spot, that attracts another cool spot, and that attracts another cool spot. Downtown has become the foodie destination for Tucson.

“Same thing with hotels. Once one hotel opens, everybody’s got to have a hotel. The AC Marriott attracted Hilton and the Doubletree and the Hyatt and the Moxie. And then at some point people wanted to live there. Developers have been surprised with the demand for these urban apartments. They lease up in the pre-construction phase.”

As fascinating as anything about downtown are the demographics of who’s coming there to play and who’s living there, McCusker said.

“Half of them are ‘baby boomers’ who want to live in an urban environment, walk to restaurants and go to the symphony and the ballet,” he said, “and the other half are millennials who Uber everywhere.”

Developers and investors have not been shy about making a move downtown.

The Tucson Convention Center just put the finishing touches on a 10-year, $100 million renovation with the City of Tucson, Rio Nuevo and a private developer funding it. Hilton built a Doubletree Hotel on the property that opened in 2021.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in housing developments in the core of downtown as well as in the Mercado District, west of Interstate 10.

HSL Properties leveled the old La Placita Village office and retail complex north of the TCC to build a 243-unit residential complex called The Flin. The Gadsden Company has built a 122-unit development, The Monier, at Mercado. The $110 million Bautista development, a combination of commercial, food and beverage space with 256 residential units, broke ground last year and is expected to be completed in 2025.

The COVID-19 pandemic came at a time that a number of the developments were already in the works and/or under construction. It slowed some of the projects getting finished, but not the enthusiasm for investing in downtown.

“We always knew that we’d be able to get through it,” Adam Weinstein, president and CEO of The Gadsden Company, told BizTucson in 2022. “I think it was just a matter of how much of a delay this was ultimately going to

cause, and making sure that we were in a strong position to be able to cover all of these circumstances and be able to move forward.”

There’s more to come, McCusker said. But it’s not too far into the distant future when Rio Nuevo’s work will be done, he said.

The tax increment financing that funds Rio Nuevo and therefore funds many of the Downtown projects, is set to expire in 2035. A decision hasn’t been made on trying to ex tend it again.

In the meantime, the Rio Nuevo District, which actually includes properties east on Broadway all the way to Wilmot Road, will see more development, McCusker said. Be cause of all the new business in the downtown portion of the Rio Nuevo District, about $20 million a year is coming in for investment in the district, but the land will eventually run out.

“You still have the far west side. That’s gonna build out eventually,” he said. “You’re going to start seeing infill in pretty much every vacant lot between Downtown and Wilmot. You’re gonna see rapid transit and maybe trolleys, bike lanes, Rideshare, pull-throughs. I think that’ll all happen in the next four or five years and then Rio Nuevo will be done.”


Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 61

Bioscience Hub

Spurred by innovation, a spirit of collaboration and respected global leaders in the field, bioscience is thriving in Southern Arizona.

“Tucson is the next Austin, San Diego, Boston when it comes to biotech and biomedical industries,” UAVenture Capital CEO Fletcher McCusker told BizTucson in 2022.

The University of Arizona will be among the reasons why. It’s home to the BIO5 Institute, led by Director Jennifer Barton. A noted and respected researcher, Barton has overseen BIO5’s collaborative efforts in agriculture, engineering, medicine, pharmacy and science since 2015. BIO5 strives to solve humanity’s challenges in hunger, disease, food safety and more by bringing together world-class scientists to work together and find answers.

For example, BIO5 Professor George Sutphin’s lab studies the molecular basis of aging. Our graying population is in-

creasingly an issue for quality of life and the economics of societal health. Understanding the molecular architecture that drives aging will reveal intervention points to extend healthy human lifespan, delay onset of age-associated disease and develop targeted treatments.

It’s just one of many issues that BIO5 is tackling by combining expertise from across campus.

“We know that it will take a diverse team to solve problems like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, and to provide healthy nutrition to a growing population,” Barton said. “BIO5 provides the connections, cutting edge facilities, and seed support needed for our research to test ‘crazy’ ideas that break current thinking and lead to major advances.”

Grogan’s path toward creating what is now a global company in tissue diagnostics began in a pathology lab in the late 1970s. It was there that he began writing notes on a legal pad that would lead to the development of an automated process providing more concise diagnoses, saving precious time and countless lives.

Roche has since opened a 60,000-square-foot factory in Marana to increase production of its cancerfinding instruments in 2022, and just this last year, purchased the 112,500-squarefoot former Icagen/Sanofi research and development facility adjacent to its campus.

In an encouraging sign for the fu ture of bioscience here, BIO5’s KEYS Research Internship program has seen a surge in applications for its summer cohort. The program received an un precedented 430 applications from Ari zona’s high school students aged 16 and older.

The internship program aims to in spire the next generation of scientists, offering a seven-week summer experience in which interns are mentored by UArizona faculty, gaining valuable knowledge and skills in STEM research, biotechnology, data science and science communication.

Roche Tissue Diagnostics’s solid presence here began with Ventana Medical Systems in 1985. Founded by UArizona pathologist Thomas Grogan in his garage, Ventana was acquired by Roche in 2008 for $3.4 billion. The bioscience giant has since maintained its base in Tucson and expanded its footprint over the past few years.

The company continues innovating, recently adding to its comprehensive cervical cancer portfolio with a self-collection option in several countries. The advancement makes it easier and more comfortable for people to detect certain strains of human papillomavirus, which causes 99% of cervical cancer. Roche also obtained prequalification from the World Health Organization for the test, making this critical screening tool more widely available in low- and lower-middle income countries.

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Additionally, Roche’s BenchMark ULTRA PLUS tissue staining system recently launched around the world, enabling pathologists to provide highquality, time-critical results to doctors and patients. Roche also has entered an agreement with PathAI, a global leader in artificial intelligence-powered technology for pathology. PathAI will exclusively work with Roche to develop AI-enabled digital pathology algorithms in the companion diagnostics space.

Another Tucson success story in bioscience is the Critical Path Institute, a global, nonprofit organization founded here in 2005 by Dr. Raymond Woosley to accelerate drug development. In addition to its Tucson headquarters, C-Path’s European headquarters are based in Amsterdam.

The creation of C-Path was inspired by Dr. Janet Woodcock, principal deputy commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration. She believed that regulatory science should include collabora-

tion between regulators, the industry, academic scientists and communities.

“I had the pleasure of working with Janet to launch the highly successful Critical Path Institute,” Woosley said, at the 2005 dedication. “Based in Arizona, C-Path operates globally with programs

and collaborations across the U.S., Europe, Japan, and beyond.”

Now led by new CEO Dr. Klaus Romero, a longtime regulatory science expert, C-Path recently launched a revamped website to further enhance collaboration in drug development. The platform reflects C-Path’s commitment to quickening the development of new medical innovations through optimal data management, actionable biomarkers, advanced modeling and analytics, and meaningful endpoints.

“My commitment is to continue CPath’s tradition of excellence and innovation to transform drug development for the benefit of those in need,” Romero said. “This is a commitment deeply rooted in my early days at C-Path, inspired by the visionary mentorship and guidance of C-Path’s founder, Dr. Raymond Woosley. Our collaborative efforts will persist in transforming drug development paradigms, for the benefit of those in need.”

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Arizona & U.S. Military Installations

The impact of the military bases in Arizona goes well beyond the $15.5 billion and nearly 79,000 associated jobs spread throughout the state.

“They are members of our community,” said retired Maj. Gen. Ted Maxwell, president and CEO of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and former commander of the Arizona Air National Guard. “They are embedded in the community. Their sons and daughters play athletic events with our kids. They serve on our local school boards and HOAs. They really are citizens of the region and state.”

The latest edition of the Maguire Report, commissioned by the State of Arizona Military Affairs Commission and released last November, reveals the overwhelming economic impact that the

military has on the state and our world.

Southern Arizona plays a key role in the report, which is also known as the Military Economic Impact Report. It notes that installations south of the Gila River are responsible for two-thirds of the military’s economic impact in Arizona, adding up to approximately $10 billion.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca are the two major installations in the Southern Arizona region and make up the bulk of the militaryrelated employment. There also are two Arizona National Guard installations, the 162nd Fighter Wing based at Tucson International Airport, and the Silverbell Army Heliport northwest of Tucson. Two more installations near Yuma add to the overall impact in Southern Arizona.

“If you include Yuma, the large majority of military economic impact occurs in Southern Arizona,” Maxwell said. “It’s really important for Southern Arizona to understand the role of the military.

“We often ask what Maricopa County has that we don’t,” Maxwell said. “What we have is multiple military bases. Southern Arizona’s military economic benefit to the state is truly significant. I was surprised when I first saw the economic impact numbers for the first time nearly 15 years ago.”

Davis-Monthan is home to a combined 9,856 Air Force personnel and civilians, making it the third-largest employer in the region. Fort Huachuca is

the heartbeat of its community with a combined 8,784 Army personnel and civilians on the base. It’s the largest employer in Sierra Vista.

Maxwell said the benefits don’t end when men and women leave the service. Many fall in love with Southern Arizona while stationed here and decide to stick around.

“On top of the economic impact, the other thing we have to remember is how many folks it brings to community and how many veterans who have had the opportunity to serve in Arizona elect to retire here,” Maxwell said. “Many of them retire in their early to late 40s. They become a lifetime benefit to our region.”

The report said that 13,271 retirees from Davis-Monthan and 3,188 from Fort Huachuca are living in the region.

The study, which measures the overall economic impacts that the military’s presence has on Arizona, found that the military is responsible for 78,780 jobs, with 42,383 of those direct employees of the installations. The overall $15.5 billion in economic contributions across the state includes all the related jobs and business that come from the bases being here.

“Arizona’s six major military installations and four National Guard operations represent key economic drivers for local communities,” Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Sandra Watson said in a news release on Gov. Katie Hobbs’ website. “Not only do these centers provide substantial job

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opportunities for Ari zonans, they comple ment Arizona’s thriv ing manufacturing and technology industries, such as aerospace and defense, cybersecurity, and more.”


Aside from the Southern Arizona in stallations, the study includes Luke Air Force Base, the U.S. Naval Observatory-Flagstaff Station, and two other Arizona National Guard operations.

Total economic output from Arizona’s military operations nearly tripled from Fiscal Year 2000 to Fiscal Year 2022, from $5.6 billion to $15.5 billion. This increase came despite reductions in direct employment due to military mission adjustments since Fiscal Year 2014.

benefits the local economy and families throughout our state,” Sen. Mark Kelly said. “The partnership between our exceptional service members, veterans, supportive local communities, and innovative defense industrial base continue to enrich our great state and serves a critical role in protecting our national security.”

Direct employment at military operations across the state increased by nearly 10% om FY 2000 to FY 2005, followed by a net 1% increase until FY 2014. The most recent Maguire Report, hough, does show a decrease of almost 7% from FY 2014 to FY 2022. Direct employment numbers have fallen 18% since FY 2005, when the military’s state-wide presence accounted for 96,328 jobs.

This drop makes keeping what the state has even more vital. The Maguire Report lays it all out.

“This supports the need for continued effort and advocacy to support the military missions already present in Arizona and the economic incentives to attract new missions to our great state,” Gov. Hobbs said in the news release.

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 65

World’s Largest Gem Show

When a city can claim to have the planet’s largest of anything, that’s a big deal. And because of the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase, bragging rights are in order.

“It’s certainly the largest event of its kind in the world,” said Jane Roxbury, director of convention and gem show services for Visit Tucson, the nonprofit that attracts visitors and business to the metro Tucson region.

Although Tucsonans have enjoyed the convenient proximity of the showcase for decades, many may not understand the enormity of the show as an economic driver for the region.

The importance of this colossal annual event is illustrated through Visit

Tucson’s economic impact studies. As stated in its most recent report of 2019, each year’s show receives approximately 65,000 visitors coming from 42 states and 17 foreign countries. Direct annual expenditures total over $131 million, and the local tax revenue estimate is $13 million a year.

Through the years, the showcase has continued to grow and expand its offerings. The University of Arizona’s Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum, which opened in 2021 at the Pima County Historic Courthouse, has been a popular addition to the show, according to Roxbury, this year hosting a Day at the Alfie with free admission.

seum was named in honor of Norville’s late wife, Alfie.

“We wanted to move it because nobody saw it at UArizona. With the gem show, more people will see it in one week than 20 years at Flandrau,” Norville said.

When the museum was housed at Flandrau, it had 4,000 square feet of space. It is now spread over 12,000 square feet on the first floor of the courthouse and uses another 9,000 square feet on the lower level for classrooms, laboratories and storage.

While the museum is open yearround, it’s now having more of a presence through the showcase, hosting events and seminars. It also has a new director in place, Violetta Wolf, who Roxbury says, “will help put it on the map.”

An example of non-gem events held during the showcase is Pima County Fairgrounds’ Gem & Jam Festival, giving visitors another form of entertainment with electronic music, vendors and health-related workshops. And the opening of new downtown hotels in the past few years has added accommoda-

Prior to moving to the court house, the 105-year-old gem and mineral collection was housed in the basement of Flandrau Planetarium on the UArizona campus. Former Pima County Supervisor Chuck Huckleberry worked with local developer and owner of Gem & Jewelry Exchange, Allan Nor ville, to move the collection to a location where more people could appreciate it. The mu

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visitors alike. The theme changes each year − the 2024 event was titled Pegmathe Science Fair. Our show focuses on education and our exhibits come from

museums and private collectors around the world.”

Tucson Gem & Mineral Society members are proud of the show they present ach year, as well as being a major part of Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. “We do very well,” McClain said.

e get 20,000 people in four days, and what happens in the three-week period is unique and benefits the public and our city. Our city has a lot.”

Since its original roots, the gem show has not only grown in number of exhibitors, venues and visitors, it has also enlarged by having off-shoots during other imes of the year.

“We’re trying to have gem events throughout the year,” Roxbury noted. “TCC is hosting six new shows this year, and there is on-going business in Mineral City west of Oracle Road. It’s an xciting opportunity for Tucson to see what other aspects of economic development we can grow.”


Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 67

Optics Valley

Southern Arizona is proud to be known as Optics Valley. The nickname, which was introduced in a 1992 BusinessWeek article, was bestowed on the Tucson region when it became clear that optics-related companies were hustling to plant their flags in our community.

The reason? Not surprisingly, one of the drawing cards was the University of Arizona’s commitment to optical sciences. The National Science Foundation ranked the university first in astronomy and astrophysics for the fiscal year 2020, with expenditures of $122 million.

The UA’s Wyant College of Optical Sciences educates more students than any other U.S. optics institution. The college is named for the brilliant and entrepreneurial James C. Wyant, the founding dean who passed away this past December. A noted business leader and philanthropist, Wyant gave more

than $30 million to the college to support graduate students and endowed faculty.

As it turns out, Optics Valley isn’t our little secret. Leading companies from across the spectrum come to Tucson to recruit students from the college.

“Jobs are exploding,” Wyant College Dean Thomas Koch told BizTucson in 2022. “Companies come to talk to faculty, and students present research and form relationships with companies before they even graduate. A field you would think of for jobs in optics is aerospace, but now there’s Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon – they all involve optics.”

Making a further commitment to optical sciences among other emerging fields, the University of Arizona’s Tech Park was established in 1994. One of the nation’s premier research parks, it creates an environment that generates, attracts and retains technology companies and talent that align with the research, mission and goals of the university.

UA Tech Park’s development and continuing success are crucial steps in fortifying Southern Arizona as the place where optical sciences thrive.

“Tucson is an optics epicenter established at the intersection of university expertise and industry excellence,” said Carol Stewart, UArizona VP for Tech Parks Arizona. “Tucson’s optics industry fuels revolutionary advancements on a global scale. With decades of credibility as a world leader in optics/photonics, the UArizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences generates a rich talent pool and innovative startups. This mag-

netic force not only attracts businesses but also catalyzes growth and success of the industry generated from the robust ecosystem.”

Plenty of things are happening in the optics field at Tech Parks, including:

• Micro-Hybrid Electronic GmbH recently opened an office there. Founded in Germany in 1992, the company operates in the field of electronic microsystems and infrared measurement technology, with five other locations worldwide. It specializes in miniaturized, ceramicbased electronic circuits and infrared sensors.

• Applied Energetics, Inc., a leader in the advancement of ultrashort pulse laser technologies, has announced plans for the expansion of its headquarters with an approximately 8,300-square-foot facility located in its building. The commitment is expected to support the company’s anticipated growth and provide greater capacity for research, product development, training, testing, evaluation and production.

• The Tech Parks’ roots go deep. NP Photonics, a company developed from UArizona research, was among the first businesses to set up shop at the park. The company is still going strong, boasting a leading proprietary fiber technology used across a broad family of products, including narrow linewidth, low phase-noise fiber lasers designed for operation in industrial environments.

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optical sciences graduates coupled with a business incubator like UA Tech Park are the perfect combo. The park’s occupants help keep talent in Tucson, giving them an option to stay in the region instead of relocating.

“One of the premises of the university is optics,” Stewart told BizTucson in 2022. “We concentrate on educating students and providing practical experience. The professors and researchers are working on projects that are ready to be commercialized, and students get

hands-on experience.”

Another key player in the industry is the Arizona Technology Council, the state’s top trade association for science and technology companies. Council members work toward furthering the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action.

he council holds events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, managers and employees to make an impact on the technology industry. The group’s work contributes to its culture of growing member businesses and transforming technology in the state. The council’s Southern Arizona regional office has more than 100 members.

As reported in a recent issue of BizTucson, the Arizona Technology Council’s work over the past five years has been made possible through funding from the Small Business Administration

Regional Innovation Cluster. The partnership led to an initiative that helped revive an optics technician training pro


Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 69

Cycling City USA

You’ve no doubt heard the term Old Pueblo. But what about Cycling City? It’s a nickname that recognizes Tucson’s ever-expanding biking culture, but how did it earn this moniker?

It all dates to 1983 and two key events.

That year, Richard DeBernardis embarked on a bicycle tour of the United States, including a stop in Tucson. He fell in love with the area and its weather and decided to create a new bicycling event: The El Tour de Tucson. Fewer than 300 people took part that year. Today more than 9,000 people participate each year, drawing international attention to Tucson – and it generates some $10 million for the local economy annually. It’s also now the No. 1 Road Cycling Event in the U.S. according to USA Today.

The event also helped put Tucson on the radar of the global cycling market, an industry projected to reach $69.23 billion in 2024 according to Statista. TJ

Juskiewicz, executive director of the Perimeter Bicycling Association – the nonprofit that produces El Tour each year – said, “El Tour showcases the amazing cycling community and the incredible support from private and public partnerships.”

The other key event of 1983 happened in October when a devastating flood ripped through Southern Arizona, dumping seven inches of rain in four days. Structures along the Rillito River were consumed by floodwaters, leaving 10,000 people homeless and causing $300 million in damage. When rebuilding began, an idea took root: What if a continuous biking and walking path was created? And so, The Loop was born.

At 131-miles, the Loop is the longest continuous path of its kind in the United States. Extending throughout Pima County, The Loop has transformed Tucson into one of the nation’s top cycling destinations. In fact, USA Today named The Loop the number one bike path in the country in 2021 and 2022.

The Loop is set to expand in Fall 2024

with a connection north of Avra Valley. The six-mile section will connect nearly 30,000 residents in North Marana to the Loop. Currently, the Loop stops at Avra Valley Road.

Jim Conroy, director of the parks and recreation department for the Town of Marana, said the $4-million project has been in the works for many years. “I joined Parks and Rec a little over six years ago and I started working on this within weeks of being in the job,” Conroy said. “This is a significant regional connection.”

Once complete, the new section will include a protective barrier on the Avra Valley Bridge that then will loop around to a 1.8-mile underpass that will take riders under CalPortland Cement’s access road. Given the structural elements involved, this is one of the more challenging engineering aspects of the project. “The culvert will be constructed to withstand 750,000 pounds,” Conroy said.

Conroy added that the project is a

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tween Pima County and the Town of Marana. “This has been a very good experience and it’s a great example of the cooperation between Pima County, CalPortland Cement, and the Town of Marana,” he said. “A very broad range of people use the Loop so getting addi tional miles is always a big deal.”

Pima County has adopted many other bike-friendly amenities, including bike boulevards, which are residential streets designed with bicyclists and pe destrians in mind. Andy Bemis from the City of Tucson said, “There are a total of 66 bike boulevard corridors totaling 95 miles planned for Tucson.” To date, 11 are complete and 28 are scheduled for completion by 2029. The rest will be built pending funding.

The Loop and Tucson’s many biking events have dramatically raised Tucson’s profile in the international biking community. The 2024 Bicycle Leadership Conference takes place here this spring. Put on by PeopleForBikes, a


biking trade association, the event will bring the industry’s top leaders together. Ravi Rajcoomar, PeopleForBikes VP of business networks, said, “Guests will take in the breathtaking landscapes and world-renowned food scene. Lead-

ers from around the globe will feel like they’re experiencing a retreat rather than a conference.”

Damion Alexander, a REALTOR®, avid cyclist and all-around promoter of cycling said, “What we have going on right now is amazing. We have mountain biking, road racing, BMX, gravel rides,” he said. “There is so much good going on in Pima County right now.”

Alexander pointed to the construction of cyclist-friendly roads, Loop connections and expansions, and traffic calming features, which make cars go a bit slower and are safer for cyclists. He added that a velodrome may soon open near the Pima County Fairgrounds.

Cycling has become such a force in Arizona that Alexander thinks it should be part of the state’s famous 5 C’s –Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Climate…and Cycling. “Citrus is outdated,” he said. “Arizona is about cycling!”

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 71

City of the Arts

Against a backdrop of statuesque saguaros and epic sunsets, Tucson is renowned as a distinctive stage for visual and performing arts and culture.

Tucson was ranked No. 15 of “52 Places to Go in 2023” by The New York Times for its thriving arts scene and was named a Conde Nast Traveler “Top Place to Go in North America in 2024” for historic Barrio Viejo. The rankings reflect the diverse palette of arts organizations, fes tivals, venues and experiences that can be found here.

A 2021 study by Southern Methodist University DataArts found that 37 Tucson arts orga nizations – 36 with budgets under $5 million – generated more than $34 million in salaries and bene fits to local residents and expenses paid to local businesses.

The local nonprofit arts and culture sector alone generates $87.7 million in annual revenue, according to a 2020 study by the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.

“Economic development is more than simply individuals in our community possessing the right skills,” said Michael Guymon, president and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber. “Cultural amenities rank high on potential employees’ and visitors’ lists and Tucson’s arts and music scene grows with each passing day.

“Southwestern Art Deco” grandeur, the Fox recently launched a $26 million capital campaign to fund a 20,000-squarefoot expansion.

“The Fox and other downtown venues are committed to building the infrastructure necessary for growth in the arts overall,” said Bonnie Schock, Fox’s executive director. “The pace at which the arts have recovered postpandemic versus other industries is extraordinary. People want experiences more than goods, and these experiences are a huge part of the cultural identity of any given place.”

celebrating 100 years this year and the HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival seeing record crowds in its 10th year, Tucson is arts rich and providing unique and memorable experiences for people of all ages.”

Iconic Venues Host World-Class Performances

Built over two centuries, Tucson’s theatres and venues have shaped the star power of the Southwest.

Distinctive spaces host performances by Arizona Opera, Arizona Theatre Company, Ballet Tucson, Broadway in Tucson/A Nederlander Presentation, Tucson Symphony Orchestra among many others.

Iconic venues include the Fox Tucson Theatre, with more than 100 events annually, including nationally touring talent. Renowned for its circa-1930s

Rich cultural identity is reflected by the 1920s-era Rialto Theatre and century-old Hotel Congress across the street. Hotel Congress is acclaimed for Club Congress, the outdoor Plaza Stage, and the Century Room that features live jazz nightly. The refurbished Rialto averages about 300 shows annually and is recognized by Pollstar as a Top 100 Major Club Venue worldwide.

Other notable spaces include the 1927 Spanish Colonial-style Temple of Music and Art; the Leo Rich Theater; and the newly upgraded Linda Ronstadt Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center. Teatro Carmen has recently completed Phase I of an $8 million renovation to include a 300-seat space for theatre, music and film, a bar, restaurant and patio.

“This was a hub for the Hispanic, African-American and Chinese communities: It was a melting pot of cultural history in the Barrio Viejo and is the oldest performing arts venue in Tucson,” said Herb Stratford, president of nonprofit Stratford Artworks and co-founder of FilmFest Tucson.

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UArizona brings Art to Life with Arizona Arts

The University of Arizona takes the arts to the next level with Arizona Arts and Arizona Arts Live.

The Arizona Arts triad comprises visual and performing arts and enrichment experiences through Arizona Arts Live (formerly UA Presents) at venues such as the Center for Creative Photography and Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, academic programs through UArizona College of Fine Arts, which features the Schools of Art, Dance, Music, and Theatre, Film & Television.

Through more than 600 performances, events and experiences annually, Arizona Arts is an ambassador of arts in the community.

“The work we do in Arizona Arts − ranging from the professional training in our academic programs, to the arts innovative programming in our presenting units − is deeply woven into the vibrant arts ecosystem here in Southern

ona,” said Andy Schulz, UArizona VP for the Arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Unique Collaborations

Fuel Cultural Synergy

The collaborative spirit embodied by the Tucson Desert Song Festival and HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival has truly raised Tucson’s international profile.

The Tucson Desert Song Festival provides grants to fund rare vocal talents including artists who perform at the Metropolitan Opera −for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Opera, Ballet Tucson, True Concord Voices & Orchestra, Tucson Guitar Society and others.

“Typically, regional groups can’t afford the substantial fees of major vocal talents, so the festival enables them to bring talent to Tucson that they can’t otherwise afford. This has a major impact on the cultural life of the city,” said George Hanson, festival coordinator.

The HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival, which attracts global jazz performers, is a destination event that sold out 70% of ticketed offerings in 2024.

“People come for the festival but they stay for the food, the hotels, the attractions, the history and the cultural vibrancy that Tucson offers,” said festival director Khris Dodge.


Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 73

Steele Children’s Research Center

When he came to Tucson almost 30 years ago, Dr. Fayez K. Ghishan saw in this desert city the potential for a worldrenowned children’s medical center.

Today, Steele Children’s Research Center at the University of Arizona is exactly that and so much more.

“When I came to Steele, I promised to make it successful,” said Ghishan, Steele’s endowed director and an international expert in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition.

“I knew there was opportunity in Tucson to build highly academic research clinics, which would attract top medical students and provide the needed clinical care,” he said. “Now, we are ranked by the National Institutes of Health as a Center of Excellence and are in the top 20% of all pediatric research institutes at colleges of medicine.”

In addition to conducting research, the center’s physician-scientists provide compassionate healthcare for children suffering from various diseases at the Diamond Children’s Medical Center. They also hold specialty clinics in rural areas throughout Arizona. At the same time, the center’s faculty are preparing the next generation of pediatricians, pediatric specialists and researchers.

“Our task is to teach medical students and residents to heal by seeing clinical patients and to make new discoveries,” said Ghishan. “Every day, science is moving and changing, and the Steele Center is at the forefront of all major advances in children’s health.”

ing tools to diagnose diseases earlier to finding new treatments and partnering with other healthcare centers across the country to expand their research opportunity and effectiveness.

The center’s physician-scientists have made great strides in fighting debilitating pediatric diseases and honing future pediatricians and pediatric specialists, which are greatly needed worldwide today.

Since it was formed, Steele has expanded to 28 labs with 32,000 square feet dedicated to pediatric research and treatments that impact 35,000 children and their families annually. Steele-affiliated labs also have published 600 peer-

Ghishan started at Steele in 1995, three years after it opened with a $2 million donation by the late Daniel Cracchiolo and the Steele Foundation. From the beginning, Ghishan had a vision to build a worldclass center of pediatrics here. His vision was threepronged: recruit top physicians, meet clinical needs, and boost translational research. Today, Ghishan has grown the center into a renowned institution dedicated to advancements in research and therapies for more than 60 childhood diseases.

Steele is the only NIH Center of Excellence located in Arizona focusing on pediatric medical research, and its successes are indeed significant, from creat-

reviewed scientific journals, many of which have earned global recognition. The center has also obtained grant support of more than $150 million from the NIH and other federal institutions.

Steele’s partnership with Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center is key to the center’s success

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as Banner serves as Steele’s clinical arm, where medical students and interns learn how to compassionately treat ill children.

In addition, collaborations between the medical school and professors and researchers within numerous univer sity departments and colleges propel research in cardiology, critical care, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hepa tology and nutrition, genetics and de velopmental pediatrics, hematology/ oncology/HCTT, neonatology, pulm onology, and allergy and immunology for all ages.

Ghishan and his colleagues have also created valuable partnerships within the private and public sectors regionally, state-wide and nationally. Between $5 and $10 million annually comes from organizations like the Father’s Day Council of Tucson, Arizona Elks Major Projects, Kids of Steele, Courtney’s Courage, and PANDA (People Acting


Now Discover Answers), which honored Ghishan with the endowed directorship in 2020.

The center also received local and regional connections and guidance from volunteer advisory boards located both in Tucson and Phoenix.

“The Steele Children’s Research Center is a vital part of the University of Arizona’s service to our great state,” said UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins. “It has 30 years of incredible impact in the lives of the children and families of Arizona.

“Our expert faculty and researchers are world-renowned leaders in pediatric care, and I am very proud of the work they are doing to tackle the biggest challenges in treating and understanding hildhood diseases. I know the Steele Center will build on its 30-year foundation of excellence and I am excited for s future,”

The world watches as the center discovers effective ways to bring better health to children while sharing its successes to help the rest of the world do the same.

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Why the World Visits Tucson

Located in what was once was considered the “Wild West,” it should be no surprise that Tucson’s first formal tourism accommodations were dude ranches.

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch formed out of a working ranch and began hosting guests from the east who wanted a true western experience in the 1920s. Westward Look also started out as a guest ranch in the 1940s, but by the 1960s, it was transformed into Tucson’s first resort. It’s a credit to our tourism vitality that both of these locations still welcome visitors today.

From this beginning, Tucson has since blossomed into what Visit Tucson calls the “Soul of the Sonoran Desert” and the “Flavor of the Southwest.” It’s no wonder Pima County hit record-breaking levels in travel spending in 2022 at $2.75 billion.

“In the past few years, we’ve noticed national and international media writing more frequently about Tucson,” said

Felipe Garcia, Visit Tucson president and CEO. “Visit Tucson will continue to promote to the world what makes us unique, leveraging what makes us such a great place to work, live and play.”

So, what does make us unique? What made Conde Nast Traveler place Tucson at the top of its list of “The Best Places to Go in North America & the Caribbean in 2024?” Why would Time Magazine put the city on its list of the “World’s Greatest Places 2023?” There are many reasons.

Downtown Tucson’s revitalization offers a variety of new restaurants and activities, not to mention colorful murals, a haiku hike, the Tucson Museum of Art and the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, where visitors and residents can learn about the Spanish and Native American origins of the City of Tucson. In addition, Conde Nast Traveler calls downtown’s Barrio Viejo a “historic melting pot galvanized by delicious dining and cultural programming.”

Tucson’s museums located throughout the city are world-class and one of

the best ways visitors experience the city’s history, culture, flora, and fauna.

Due to the wide variety of attractions, there is also something for nearly everyone to enjoy. For many residents, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a top-of-mind, award-winning attraction to take visiting family and friends to so they can experience our native plants and animals.

Other ways to experience Tucson’s unique ecology can be found at Tohono Chul Park and Tucson Botanical Gardens. Pima Air & Space Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum where pilots who flew the planes housed there can regale visitors with their adventures.

The DeGrazia Gallery shares Ted DeGrazia’s views of the world through his paintings, sculpture, and architecture. Old Tucson takes visitors back to the days of the Wild West with its gunfights, dance hall shows, and cowboy cooking. Biosphere II is not only an interesting place to tour, but it also serves as a research facility for the University of Arizona, and visitors see this research occurring firsthand.

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Our major events draw visitors from all over the world. Tucson Gem, Min eral & Fossil Showcase, El Tour de Tuc son, the All Souls Procession and the Cologuard Classic by Exact Sciences, a PGA Tour Champions event, also help us share our culture and our love for the outdoors.

Visitors come from around the world to enjoy Tucson’s outdoor activities as well. From road and mountain bike riding and hiking to scenic drives up Mount Lemmon, walking up or tak ing the tram up Sabino Canyon, fish ing, ziplining and even dining al fresco, we’re blessed with a variety of opportunities to get out and enjoy our beautiful saguaro-studded desert. While enjoying these activities, visitors often have the opportunity to see the occasional coyote, hummingbird or javelina.


In addition, the city’s designation as the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. gave a huge boost to its tourism reputation, drawing attention from

all over the world. Just last year, Travel and Leisure included Tucson on its list of “Top 10 Cities for Food in the U.S.”

“The UNESCO designation is important because it has opened doors to Tucson to join other networks, such as the Food Capitals by the Delice Network, where cities like Montreal, Barcelona, Lyon and Brussels see Tucson as

qual in the food space,” explained

We also offer world-class accommodations, beginning with The Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain, an incomparable luxury resort. Westin La Paloma esort & Spa was named the 2023 Best Desert Hotel by Smart Meetings, and Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, which has received the prestigious Meetings & Conventions Gold Key Award more than once. Our acclaimed spas, Canyon Ranch and Miraval, also draw a global

“Tucson is emerging as a ‘must see’ destination for travelers with prestigious publications like Conde Nast Traveler, Time Magazine and The New York Times all including Tucson on their ‘Top Places to Visit in 2024,’” said Graeme Hughes, Visit Tucson executive VP. “It’s no wonder that tourism is one of the primary economic engines for Southern Arizona.”

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in 15 Key Sectors

Tune into KVOA – News 4 Tucson as our news team gives you in-depth coverage of “The World Is Watching Tucson in 15 Key Sectors”.

We will highlight our region’s achievements in Aerospace and Defense, our culinary status as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, our growing significance in mining technology and bioscience, our proven reputation in optics and digital technology and much more. Tucson is not only Cycling City USA, but also a City of Wellness and a City of the Arts. We are honored to collaborate with BizTucson Magazine to bring you all of these great stories. For more information, visit our website at

Spring 2024

Does Your Banking Relationship Fit Your Needs?

One of the most important relationships a business owner has is with their bank. Finding the right financial institution centered around relationships is the key to business success.

When business owners are considering adding or changing their bank, it’s vital to find an organization that is consistent in creating and maintaining relationships. A relationship approach to banking helps ensure your company receives the fullest appreciation of what makes your company unique. Only then can your bank provide a stable and consistent source of financial support and best practices to help fuel your success

How complex are your company’s finances?

A relationship approach to banking can leverage a detailed knowledge of your organization and business sector to provide new insights and suggestions for protection and growth. On the other hand, a transactional approach might offer a more convenient route for purchasing a single financial product that satisfies your immediate needs.

What kind of financial products does the bank offer?

Foreign currency exchange management won’t do you much good if you

sell trucks to local construction companies. But a well-managed fleet financing loan program might help you win some large contracts.

What are the true costs of doing business with the bank?

The size of any service fee or interest

rate that you might pay, while important to consider, doesn’t tell the whole story. Find out what kind of value you would receive. For instance, if one bank is offering a lower interest rate, their credit proposal may well include more restrictive covenants that limit your flexibility until the loan is paid off.

Do the Relationship Manager(RM) and the bank understand how you compete?

Conduct strategic conversations with any prospective financial institution. Get to know the individuals and their bank’s philosophy and give them a chance to know you and your company’s value proposition. You’ll figure out soon enough if there’s a fit between their approach and yours.

Relationships ebb and flow, but the healthy ones endure and benefit both parties involved. Your banking relationship can be one of the most beneficial aspects of your business model, but only if you expect it and hold your RM and yourself responsible for growing and nurturing it.

To learn how we can bring ideas, insight and solutions to your business, please contact Elie Asúnsolo, group manager for PNC Commercial Banking in Tucson and Southern Arizona, at

80 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizBANKING
PNC is a registered mark of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (“PNC”).
©2024 The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Ready to Help
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2023 Greater Tucson Leadership Tucson Man of the Year

Dominic Ortega

It would seem after you’ve been awarded Man of the Year, your work is

Not for Dominic Ortega.

Describing the 67-year-old as a “dynamo” is not an exaggeration.

he Brownsville, Tex. native is passionate about a number of nonprofit ganizations in Tucson, and he loves to spread the word about their great works. He estimated that he’s connected to 50 nonprofits in Tucson.

he biggest thing is telling their story,” Ortega said during a recent interview at his Foothills home. “I help them ell their story, or I’ll share their story.”

Greater Tucson Leadership will honor Ortega as its Man of the Year at the ual Community Impact Awards at Casino del Sol on Mar. 22.

Ortega retired from being a senior consultant at Allstate Insurance about nine years ago, but his work for nonprofits is far from over. “Now that he’s etired, he works harder than when he was getting paid,” said his wife, Myri-

amily friend Neelam Sethi proudly claims credit for tagging Ortega with the nickname, “Mr. Tucson.”

She and her husband, retired cardiothoracic surgeon Gulshan Sethi, have wn the Ortegas for about 10 years. Neelam said she first met Dominic at one of the 100-plus fundraisers and gawas always such a star, talking to everybody, promoting every cause,” she said. “Our friendship got deeper and deeper,” said Sethi, estimating that she sees the Ortegas at least twice a week,

partly because she lives close to them.

“We are like family,” she said. “He is such an amazing human being. A genuine man with no ulterior motives.”

She said that Ortega acts as his own public relations machine for all of the nonprofit organizations he supports.

“His photographs are the best PR ever,” said Sethi. “He posts them, and his photographs tell the story. He kept every nonprofit, every fundraiser in the public eye during the pandemic.”

Ortega attributes his actions to how he was raised.

“I got my spirit from my mother and father,” he said. “They taught me to be good, to be kind. My real mission is I just want people to know that everyone can do something.”

About 17 years ago, Ortega became connected to the University of Arizona Hispanic Alumni Club, a fairly small club at the time. He served on its board and was instrumental in growing the club, which he said moved the graduation rate for Hispanic students from 45% to 90%.

Using his honed “elevator pitch,” he was able to recruit UArizona alumnus and founder of HSL Properties Humberto Lopez to donate $40,000 to the group in 2006, and the college matched it.

“It became the club on campus,” he said proudly. Ortega also helped grow the funds raised for the club’s annual dinner from $35,000 to $325,000.

Other organizations that are dear to Ortega include El Rio Health, Youth On Their Own and the YWCA. Ortega connects with the YWCA because of

its fight for equity and social justice. He mentors teens through Youth On Their Own and he’s in awe of the breadth of services El Rio Health offers.

He’s no stranger to garnering accolades. In 2019, he was named Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the Southern Arizona Fundraising Association, and in 2020, he was given the Women Who Soar award − an honor usually reserved for women. The organization made an exception because “I advocate so much for women,” Ortega said.

“(The awards) are greatly appreciated, but it’s not why you do things,” he said. “Simply to be thanked is all I ever ask for.”

Even while Ortega worked at Allstate, he won the company’s Chairman’s Award – twice. That award was given to only four people nationwide each year. He’s been married to Myriam for almost 45 years and writes annual love letters to her in the Arizona Daily Star. The two have a 37-year-old son and 35-year-old twin daughters.

Myriam, who is retired from the Catalina Foothills District where she taught Spanish immersion classes, describes herself as more of an introvert.

“He’ll stand on top of the table, and I’ll be under the table,” she said. “I don’t like the light shining on me. I support him in what he does. I’m humbled and I’m honored that he was chosen for this award.”

She added jokingly “He still has to do his chores – he doesn’t get a free pass.”

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2023 Greater Tucson Leadership Tucson Woman of the Year

Desha Bymers-Davis

A fractured foot, a Facebook post and a love for philanthropy all led to the formation of a local nonprofit that in April brate reaching $1 million in donations to other charities.

Bymers-Davis is the force behind that not-for-profit, 100+ Women e Tucson, which she founded in 2015 after she was laid up with a broken bone and saw a social media post om a sorority sister who had started a chapter in Omaha, Neb.

Hundreds of 100+ Women Who Care chapters exist and more are popping up all the time, but Bymers-Davis he one who made it happen in Tuc-

hink what Desha has done to create really a community of philanthropy, philosophy of caring in our community, is pretty amazing,” said Justin wicz, CEO of Greater Tucson Leadership, which named Bymers-Davis its 2023 Woman of the Year.

rs-Davis completed GTL’s leadership academy in 2020. She’ll be honored along with other award winners at a March 22 ceremony at Casino

Members of 100+ Women Who Care contribute $100 per quarter and attend a 60-minute “Big Give” event where the funding recipient is chosen. The most recent Big Give – events are always held at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa − drew 410 guests and members. “The model is one hour, $100 dollars, $10,000 in impact,” BymersDavis said. “This levels the playing field so people can be philanthropists.”

Bymers-Davis also helped launch 100+ Men Who Care Tucson, which has nearly 100 members, and 100+ Teens Who Care Tucson, which has more than 200 members who contribute $25 per quarter. “To be able to instill in teens in our community a culture of philanthropy, that’s going to make a difference in Tucson for generations,” Lukasewicz said.

The nonprofit’s model is simple: Every quarter, members of 100+ Women Who Care Tucson nominate nonprofits, which are vetted, to receive funding. Members then gather at Big Give gatherings and the names of three nominees are drawn. The nominators pitch their nonprofits, and members vote on the winner. “It’s very different. It’s not nonprofits telling where the money goes,” Bymers-Davis said.

Anyone can attend Big Give events, which are around 60 minutes long, for free. The next one, on April 18, will celebrate 100+ WWC Tucson’s milliondollar mark. “It’s a great place to network and meet people. You can come as a guest to experience us – no one’s trying to sell anything. Everyone comes together with an open heart.”

As of February, the organization had 591 members. “We gain some and lose some every quarter, but we’re continually growing. The bigger we get, the more people are talking about it, so we grew a lot in the past few years.”

Treasures 4 Teachers Tucson is one of two charities that have twice received funding from 100+ Women Who Care Tucson: It received more than $21,000

in 2018 and $56,000 in 2023, plus $8,000 from 100+ Men Who Care Tucson.

The organization runs a shop where teachers can pick up donated supplies. In 2018, “We didn’t even have a sign. We had nothing,” said Treasures 4 Teachers Tucson director Adrienne Ledford, who had joined 100+ Women Who Care Tucson that same year. “When we won it this time I was in tears. We struggle to stay open. It’s a lot of work. When you get money from them it gives you peace of mind.”

As a 100+ Women Who Care Tucson member, Ledford said, “it’s great to see winners jump up and down and scream” when they find out at the Big Give they’ve been selected for funding.

Giving circles such as 100+ Women Who Care are increasingly popular, Bymers-Davis said, and that proved true right from the start in Tucson.

“The Phoenix chapter of 100+ Women Who Care told us if we had 35 to 45 women show up that would be a considered huge success. We had over 150 women show up at our first meeting, showing that Tucson women have a heart for giving and were interested in a new way of being philanthropic in our community,” Bymers-Davis said. “It resonated with the women of Tucson that they can have their donation amplified and they get a say in where their donations go.”

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2023 Greater Tucson Leadership Tucson Founders Award

Jana Westerbeke

On the surface, Gadabout SalonSpas Co-Owner Jana Westerbeke is the perfect recipient of the Founders Award om Greater Tucson Leadership.

After all, her career has revolved around helping people look their best.

Dig deeper and you’ll find that Westerbeke also helps people feel their best oo, helping transform the lives of her employees and the thousands of clients who visit her salons, both physically and

Westerbeke’s mom, Pamela McNairWingate, founded Gadabout in 1979, but Westerbeke was involved from the beginning. While in high school in Rockford, Ill., Westerbeke attended cosmetology school.

“I went to cosmetology school so I’d have something to fall back on,” she

She moved to Tucson in 1979 and started cutting hair at Gadabout in the 1980s. It was there where she met fellow stylist Frank Westerbeke. “We fell in ve on the job,” she said. “He’s a really talented hairdresser, but he’s a wonder-

he two have been married for 35 years, and Frank still cuts hair once a week at the Gadabout location at River Road and Campbell Avenue.

“I never really thought of myself as a founder,” said Westerbeke, who also opened VerVe Salon with Frank in 2001. “I think it’s a responsibility to the community you serve, and to help grow the fundamentals of who we are today.” The Founders Award recipient dem-

onstrates significant long-term community involvement and accomplishments, and has helped shape the community in a quality, positive manner. Recipients will have made significant contributions to the community over the course of their lifetime.

Westerbeke will be honored at Greater Tucson Leadership’s Community Impact Awards, which will take place Mar. 22 at Casino del Sol.

Gadabout offers hair, skin, massage and nail services at its five locations around Tucson. Besides the array of “best salon” awards won with local media such as Tucson Weekly, the company has received the “Beauty Entrepreneur of the Year” award in five categories at the Global Business Awards in London and “Salon of the Year” recognition from Salon Today Magazine two years in a row.

“I think the most important thing right now is we’re developing our strengths,” said Westerbeke, who offers advanced training for all new employees and continuing education for current ones. Classes and training are offered out of the Gadabout Resource Center at 3100 N. First Ave., which was opened about five years ago.

Of the company’s 227 employees, 152 have been with Gadabout or VerVe over five years − 116 have been with them more than 10 years. And 25 interns have graduated to be full-time stylists on the floor.

“I have the pleasure of watching Jana in action on a daily basis within Gad-

about SalonSpas and VerVe salons and to say that she lives her mission daily is an understatement” said Megan Jasper, director of marketing and operations for Gadabout. “She continually, without fail, in every situation is always striving to do more for others, helping anyone possible succeed and thinking outside of the box on how to give back to the Tucson community. I believe she’s more than deserving of this award.”

Westerbeke discussed how the industry has evolved over the decades.

“This industry has grown to become one of the first chosen careers,” she said.

In fact, she serves on the board of directors of Beauty Changes Lives, an organization that helps support the industry to make it a first-rate career. To do that, Gadabout and salons nationwide raise money through events. “I fell in love with this industry,” Westerbeke said. “Now I hope to raise $1 million.”

Westerbeke is very involved throughout the community, including Angel Charity for Children, Ben’s Bells and Tu Nidito. She also serves as a board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, an organization she’s been involved with over 20 years.

“I think that the one thing my mother instilled in us is that we don’t think about who’s our competition,” Westerbeke said. “As long as you’re here, we’re going to help you grow.”

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2023 Greater Tucson Leadership Alumni Excellence Award Elizabeth Slater

Elizabeth Slater isn’t keen on promoting herself, but that’s fine – people ho know her are happy to do it for her.

“She spends literally her whole volunteer life, her work life and her personal , her weekends, serving other people and helping other people, and she does it so quietly,” said Terri Tellez-Baker, Junior League of Tucson president who co-nominated Slater for the Greater Tucson Leadership Alumni Excellence Award. Slater will receive the award at a Mar. 22 celebration.

Slater is CEO of Youth On Their Own, which propels participants toward high school graduation. When became apparent that the nonprofit needed a bigger space, Slater led a massive effort to buy and renovate a twouilding property on North Country Club Road where YOTO now has its

“If you talk to Elizabeth about it, she will never once mention herself. She will talk about the donors and the community members and the staff and the d that made it happen. But she is the one driving this incredible ship,” said Tellez-Baker, who called Slater “one of the most dynamic, helpful, selfless and caring people that I know.”

later’s work, and that of YOTO’s 33 other staffers, is paying off: 86% of YOTO participants graduate. That’s 14% higher than the graduation rate of all high schoolers in Pima County and 22% higher than the graduation rate of homeless teens across the nation.

YOTO essentially pays students to attend classes: Participants in grades 6-12 earn a stipend based on how much they go to school. It also provides free food, hygiene and school supplies, and stable adults to talk to. After kids graduate, they can continue with YOTO for up to four years through an alumni program.

“What we actually do is help teens who are experiencing homelessness stay in school and hit high school and plan for what’s next,” whether that’s college or technical school, said Slater, noting that many of YOTO’s clients come from homelessness. “Education is one of the best tools we have to break the cycle of poverty.”

In 2018, Slater went through GTL’s flagship program, Lead Tucson, which touched on topics such as government, the border and education. The experience “helped me understand more about my career and how change happens” and gave her a broader awareness of how different sectors and different people think about challenges, Slater said.

The GTL Alumni Excellence Award honors an alum of the GTL program who continues to have a positive effect on Tucson by using skills learned through GTL. Slater stands out for what she’s done to take YOTO to its next level, said GTL CEO Justin Lukasewicz. “The new center is beautiful and amazing, and the amount of resources they can bring to the students in need there is impressive.”

In its 38th year, YOTO serves more than 1,500 students a year in 100 schools countywide. When kids are in vulnerable situations, Slater is there to step in and help, Lukasewicz said. “Elizabeth is pretty amazing because she focuses so much of her time helping youth in our community, and I think we know the future is our youth, and we want to make our students and our youth have successful lives.”

YOTO has grown enough that it can afford to advertise, but not everyone is aware of the nonprofit. “I’m thrilled that a lot of people in this community know who we are. But I meet people every day who’ve never heard of us,” Slater said. “I think it’s a really compelling mission. A lot of folks say right away ‘What can I do? How can I help?’ ”

Slater started as a YOTO volunteer seven years ago and will mark five years as CEO in July. Along with being a member of the Junior League she is on the boards of the Amphi Foundation and the state Foster Care Review Board, which regularly reviews cases.

“She has served as a personal mentor to me and others, and she is always pushing people to do their best,” TellezBaker said. “She truly leads by trying to make others and Tucson a better place.”

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From Left Omar Huerta, Chef Regan Jasper, Managing Partner
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Kyle Morris, General Manager PHOTOS BY BRENT G. MATHIS
From Left Regan Jasper, Scott Stiteler & Rudy Dabdoub


Pickleball & More Corbett’s Downtown Venue Marries Food & Fun

It took four years, a trip to San Antonio, Tex., and a roll of blue tape to realize the vision of Corbett’s, a place for food, fun and – well – pickleball all in one place at a downtown venue.

It’s been 25 years in the making for Scott Stiteler and partner Rudy Dabdoub, who purchased the stretch of land where he J. Knox Corbett Lumber and Hardware Company began in the 1930s.

Stiteler was thinking small – two, maybe three pickleball courts inside the historic Corbett building − until he went inside.

“I didn’t think they’d fit because they are bigger than what people think,” he said, of a pickleball court’s size.

“But we measured everything, putting blue tape down and they fit PERFECTLY,”

Stiteler said with enthusiasm. “It was like in 1935 the Corbett family said, ‘One day pickleball is going to be popular, and we’ve got to make sure two will fit in the building.’”

It’s a marriage of the trendy recreational sport, with food, music, watching sports and more. There are also three outdoor courts, three cabanas, a stage for a band, parate bar and a beer garden.

There is seating for 600 in the outdoor area and another 250 inside with 44 big screens throughout the space. continued on page 92 >>>

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Metropolitan Pima Alliance’s 2024 Pickleball Tournament

continued from page 91

It all happens under the watchful eyes of Dennis Francis, known to locals as Papa Ranger, the late owner of the Twelve Tribes Reggae Shop. The shop space is now the spacious restaurant. A large mural of Francis is on the side of one of the structures.

“If there is a UA game it’s hard to beat,” Stiteler said. “You can explore on the property if you’re a 5-year-old or an 85-year-old.”

Corbett’s is located on a city block at 340 N. Sixth Avenue, stretching from Sixth Avenue to Fifth Avenue along Seventh Street, an area that was big enough for a lumber yard.

“We’re happy how it turned out,” Stiteler said. “It’s a beautiful building. It pulls you in.”

Whether it’s to see a sporting event, have a meal, meet friends or play pickleball, there’s something for everyone.

“Pickleball seems to get the headlines, but sports are really important,” Stiteler said. “We’re building a crowd that comes there to eat and have a Coke or beer and not play pickleball. And that’s important.”

Restaurateur Regan Jasper, now a managing partner who hired the employees including Chef Omar Huerta and General Manager Kyle Morris, brought his flair for a successful food venue to the mix and has made it a mustget-to destination for the slice of American food, burgers, sandwiches, tacos and so much more. Entree names have a local flavor like the Lute ’97 sandwich, the Tucson Toro Burger, Bear Down Dip and Sidewinder salad.

“We wanted to capture everybody,” Jasper said of the wide variety of food choices. “We don’t want to be labeled a sports bar, but we do play in that lane.”

He said the idea was to have great food, with good service, good burgers and tacos, and to have a great brunch. We have a great short rib and salmon entrée. It’s chef driven. It feels like a restaurant rather than a sports bar.”

It’s one of the many reasons Morris came on board. He loved the concept, plays pickleball and knows the restaurant business.

“It’s so much fun,” Morris said. “It makes me want to play pickleball five days a week. I saw this and I said, ‘I have to be part of it.’”

No work and all play, Morris said.

“This is all play,” he said. “The restaurant business is fun, but when you combine this element with music and everything …”

So many have already come through, with about 4,000 customers already on the email list to play. First timers and experienced players are welcome.

“We have a lot of first timers wanting a safe place to learn instead of going to a park,” Morris said. “We provide all the equipment, and you can grab a drink and some food while playing.”

“Where else are you going to be able to hear great music and eat great food and play?” asked Caren Daniel, a frequent pickleball player who practices with her team at Corbett’s. “And they are awesome here. They just know how to treat people.”

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Northern Trust Invests $4 Million in Habitat for Humanity Tucson

Habitat for Humanity Tucson, one of the largest providers of affordable homes in Southern Arizona, has received a $4 million investment from Northern Trust.

Proceeds from this transaction will support Habitat Tucson’s mission to serve more families in underserved communities with the construction of affordable homes. The sale for the security backed by 0% interest mortgages from Habitat Tucson was completed with the assistance of the Krambo Corporation.

Since 2019, Northern Trust has funded almost $13 million to strengthen the mission, building more homes and hope in Southern Arizona. Northern Trust has been a reliable and loyal partner to Habitat Tucson for years providing favorable capital lending to establish a HabiStore among other banking and lending needs. Proceeds generated from selling home goods donated by the local community support Habitat Tucson’s mission to build homes and hope. Habitat Tucson has been giving local families a hand up by building safe, decent homes in Tucson and Southern Arizona since 1980.

“Like our future homeowners, Habitat Tucson is dreaming big and courageously broadening our vision in determination to serve more. Having key partners like Northern Trust come alongside and share in that vision is remarkable and generates powerful impact that truly changes lives,” said Charlie Buchanan, CEO of Habitat Tucson.

Partnerships with organizations like Northern Trust are now more crucial than ever for families here that are struggling with the rising costs of rent and housing. Habitat has experienced a surge in demand as hard-working families seek affordable opportunities, while costs for land, construction and development continue to rise. Partners like Northern Trust help Habitat navigate ways to meet community needs in a challenging context.

Northern Trust has engaged with Habitat for Humanity in communities nationwide over many years due to its commitment to sustainable, affordable homeownership.

“Northern Trust is proud to partner with Habitat Tucson and their affordable housing efforts to support families seeking to build strength, stability, and self-reliance through owning their own home,” said Chad Driedger, Northern Trust senior managing director of Tucson.

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Advancing Surgical Care in Tucson


There’s strength in numbers. That’s a philosophy that has long been embraced in every aspect of society. Today, that same philosophy applies to medical groups. When doctors shift from the private practice model to joining a network of physicians, they are often able to improve the level of services they can offer to their patients. Recently, four respected Tucson general surgeons, Dr.

community by offering collaborative care and surgical treatment options –all in one convenient location. With a commitment to patient-centered care, this team of board-certified surgeons specializes in offering minimally invasive robotic and laparoscopic surgical techniques to treat everything from breast surgery to hernia repair, gallbladder procedures to bariatric surgery

These doctors are dedicated to improving the health of the Tucson community and have established many long-term relationships with patients, their families, and other physicians. “The long-term relationships that we have will certainly benefit our patients in so many ways, with strong communication between the physicians topping the list,” said Dr. Joseph DeVitis,

Dr. Katie Artz Dr. Joseph DeVitis Dr. Tiffany Son

– Carondelet Medical Group


ing on with their patient to ensure continuity of care.”

Research from Harvard Medical School supports the idea that communication is key to good healthcare. An article published Jan. 3, 2023 in JAMA Internal Medicine states that, “… strategies that encourage the formation of stronger peer relationships among phy-

ern Arizonans. Despite the size and breadth of the network, a commitment to communication remains strong. And while communication between physicians is important, equally important is that which takes place between a doctor and his or her patient.

While the medical community will always be excited to embrace innovative, new technologies and procedures, old-fashioned ideals like empathy and communication still have an important place in today’s premier medical practices.

“No surgery is ever routine for us. However, what is routine is that every surgery starts with a conversation, so patients have the answers they need to feel comfortable moving forward,” said Dr. Tiffany Son, a general and bariatric surgeon. “We know that in addition o technology and skill, effective, clear communication is what leads to the best

Carondelet Medical Group - Surgical Specialists is conveniently located on Wilmot Road in Tucson, and is affiliated with Carondelet Health Network.

The practice is currently accepting new patients and is committed to providing appointments in a timely manner.

Carondelet Medical Group - Surgical Specialists

1951 Wilmot Rd., Bldg. 2, Tucson, AZ 85712

To schedule an appointment for a surgical consultation, please call (520) 795-5845 or visit to learn more.

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 95
Dr. Kelly Favre

TMC Health Taps


After a career committed to high-quality accessible healthcare, TMC Health President and CEO Judy Rich will retire in April and Jennifer K. Mendrzycki will take the helm in May.

Rich announced her retirement plans last summer. She has served as president and CEO since 2007, when she assumed leadership of the organization and set the trajectory for continued growth and clinical excellence. Under her direction, Tucson Medical Center and TMC Health have established a legacy of leadership in the Arizona hospital and healthcare industry, with an unwavering focus on patient-centered care, growing into a fourhospital community healthcare system that includes one of the region’s largest physician groups.

“Judy has been a distinguished leader not only for the healthcare system but for the Tucson community,” said Louise Francesconi, chair of the TMC Health board of trustees. “We will miss her intellect, compassion, strong advocacy for the team and patients, and friendship.”

“We are excited to announce that after a national search, Jennifer K. Mendrzycki, JD, MHA, FACHE, will become the president and CEO of TMC Health,” said Francesconi.

“Jennifer is a visionary, growth-oriented healthcare leader who brings a deep understanding of the evolving healthcare landscape. She is the right person to lead TMC Health forward and to continue the success we have enjoyed under Judy’s leadership,” Francesconi said.

Mendrzycki is an accomplished healthcare professional with a distinguished 24-year career in the healthcare sector. She comes to TMC Health from New Jersey-based St. Joseph’s Health where she most recently has served as the system’s senior VP and COO since 2021.

“I am looking forward to joining TMC Health and becoming part of the Southern Arizona community,” said Mendrzycki. “TMC Health is clearly an integral part of the communities it serves, and I am looking forward to working with all of you to build upon the history of excellence that started 80 years ago at Tucson Medical Center.”

TMC Health, with more than 4,000 employees, is the region’s nonprofit community health system and parent company to some of the Southern Arizona’s most trusted and respected health care facilities, including Tucson Medical Center, a locally governed nonprofit hospital serving the region for 80 years.

96 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizPEOPLE

Driving a Thriving Community


Ventana Canyon


OF Driving a Thriving Community

Building an economy in a community is a concept that literally starts from the ground up.

To build homes, you need real estate.

To build businesses, you need real estate.

To build schools, you need real estate.

The power of real estate is the power to serve as one of the foundations of all that goes on in a community − its growth, its identity, its way of life, says Judy Lowe, CEO of the Tucson Association of REALTORS®.

“It’s the basic foundation of everything,” Lowe said. “It’s the land under us. It’s what’s on top of that land. It’s the people that live on that land.

“Real estate is the foundation, and from that foundation grows all of the ancillary pieces that support the utilization of the land. It touches every aspect of our society here in Southern Arizona.”

Anything so crucial to a community obviously comes with challenges – where to grow, how much to grow and, critically, how to grow. The decades-old debate in the Tucson region continued on page 104 >>>

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 103

continued from page 103 has centered on how to avoid losing the community’s identity as a small and caring town while managing its growth into a metropolitan area of more than 1 million.

“There’s definitely a small-town element in Tucson even though we’ve seen a significant number of growth paths,” said David Godlewski, a Midwest transplant who arrived in Tucson in 2008 to work for the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association. He’s been the executive director since 2011. “It’s very clear, even to someone like me who came from the Midwest, that there are certain values and ethics in this community when it comes to growth.

“You only need to live here for a couple of weeks before you’re making sure you’re turning off the faucet when you don’t need it. We’ve got programs like the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan that have been put in place to try and make sure we’re protecting the most biologically rich environmental areas but still allowing growth. I would like to think that these things are not mutually exclusive − that we can protect historic

neighborhoods, that we can protect the environment, and we can still accommodate growth.”

Therein lies the challenge, both on the residential and commercial sides of real estate if a community is going to not only exist but thrive, said Barbi Reuter, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services, one of the leading commercial real estate brokers in the region.

There are so many facets to the real estate ecosystem – land deals, infrastructure, construction, lending, sales and, of course, government. It makes one wonder how everything can possibly be coordinated to simply build a home or to complete a more complex project like an industrial complex.

It all has to come together for the good of the community and for the good of the economy.

“I’ve often said that commercial real estate and a thriving community go hand in hand,” Reuter said. “We all want to live in thriving communities, and jobs drive a thriving community. People need places to live, they need places to work, they need places to play,

and real estate really underpins all of that.”

The hope is that each facet of the real estate ecosystem is doing its part for the overall good of the region and to set the area apart from other communities, so when the time comes for a family or a business to make a move, they see a sense of place in Southern Arizona.

There’s a reason that, particularly since the COVID pandemic, people and businesses are coming here. Locals say the Tucson region is unique in its culture, its identity and its livability. Many here want to preserve that, but at the same time, accommodate those who want to come here. It has historically led to friction over growth, although some say recent years of collaboration have eased some tensions.

The job of the REALTORS® has become more complicated, or at least

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Gladden Farms

TOR® is very dramatic right now,” Lowe said. “They’re being challenged to look at what’s going on in the communities from where people are leaving. They need to be visiting Vail looking at open houses and looking at developments and building a knowledge base. They need to be learning about the water issues in Arizona.”

As g rowth spreads out over the valley, one of the aspects of what makes the region unique also presents a constant challenge. The surrounding mountains that draw new residents for their beauty and often impact decisions on where to live, also limit where land is available for homes and businesses.

It’s taking detailed planning, projections and some risk to make the next land deal whether it’s for commercial or residential development.

Diamond Ventures took that risk

Mountains provide attractive vistas to the east of the development.

Available land in those areas made it possible for two communities, and others like them, to follow and provide places to, as Picor’s Reuter said, live, work and play.

Jeremy Sharpe’s late father, Bob, took a risk on 3,000 acres for Rancho Sahuarita in 1993 and didn’t break ground until 2000. The community is 2,000 homes away from selling out the 9,000 in the master plan. The build-out has included plenty of commercial, amenities and even schools for the residents living there. Jobs for many of those residents are nearby with easy access on Interstate 10.

“I give tremendous credit and respect to my father who took on the risk to start Rancho Sahuarita,” Sharpe said. “At the core of it, it takes a tenacious leader and entrepreneur who has the vi-

n it comes to land development, a multitude of pieces must come together: the planners who first look at a e for its feasibility and whether infrastructure is in place or needs to be built;

analysts who try to project the price and pace and sales of homes if the land is for residential development; companies looking to relocate want to know if their employees will have places to live, not to mention grocery stores to shop.

Then, there’s the identity of the community that must be considered. Developers who take the time to learn about the region are the ones who have the most success, said SAHBA’s Godlewski.

“The big thing is that Tucson is a very relationship-based town. People want to feel like those investing their capital in the community are also committed to the same values as its residents,” Godlewski said.

“Tucson is a place where you know the police, you know the superintendent, you know people at the U of A and in civic organizations. I think that’s a key part for any new business, a builder or otherwise, to really try and make an effort to get to know the community. You still have a business to run, but in Tucson, we like people who respect and appreciate the uniqueness of the place.”

the foundation, and from that foundation grows all of the ancillary pieces that support the utilization of the land. It touches every aspect of our society here in Southern Arizona.”
– Judy Lowe CEO Tucson Association of REALTORS®
Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 105
Coyote Creek Biz

Planning for Growth

Developers Seek Available Land to Foster Communities

The mountains that shape Tucson’s identity with their stature and beauty are also formidable for their impact on where, and often how, the region grows.

It’s common to see references about “views” in the marketing and advertising for residential communities, particularly the active master-planned developments that skirt the metro area. The mountain views have been a big part of tourism strategies over the years.

And while the region is by no means landlocked by the Catalina, Rincon, Santa Rita and Tucson mountains, the ranges have created definitive corridors where growth is taking place − northwest in and through Marana, southeast toward Vail and Benson, west toward the distant town of Ajo, and south to Sahuarita toward Green Valley and Nogales.

The four most active master-planned communities are predictably in those corridors. Rocking K is 5,000 acres to the southeast. Rancho Sahuarita has been developing on 3,000 acres to the south for more than 20 years. Star Valley to the west has become one of the most active developments. And at Gladden Farms in Marana, all 1,350 acres of land have been gobbled up by builders who are filling it with homes, businesses and amenities.

From a space availability standpoint, Marana and vicinity has wider open spaces and, importantly, a desire to

grow. The developable land in the area has mostly been farmland, so it’s flat with few complications like flood plains and drainage issues.

Yet, while growth is welcome, Marana, like most communities with a long history, has a core of longtime residents who care about how it grows, said Jason Angell, development services director for the Town of Marana.

“It was always small-town Marana up until just a couple of years ago, and now the population and development boom has really taken off for us and it’s

Land is king. It just is. If you have it, you can grow.”
– Will White Land Broker Land Advisors Organization

been consistent,” Angell said.

That consistency is the challenge for the community, Angell said.

“How do we get in front of development and drive toward the vision that we have for Marana rather than reacting to development that is coming in?” Angell said. “Marana is a very businessand development-friendly community so we’re not looking to slow it down. We’re just looking to better position it.”

Though Marana considers its east and west boundaries to be the mountains, planners want to keep the growth within shouting distance of Interstate 10, Angell said. Gladden Farms, its largest development, is just a stone’s throw from the freeway, as is a major industrial development being built by Flint Development.

“We really want to stay probably a couple of miles off of I-10 in both directions,” Angell said. “Along the major thoroughfares like Tangerine Road makes sense because it’s a connection to Oro Valley, and then Avra Valley Road out to Avra Valley is another connection point there. So outside of that, the interstate is really what’s driving us.”

Land is a little tougher equation diagonally across the valley from Marana, to the southeast toward Vail and Benson, says Will White, land broker for Land Advisors Organization which brokers land deals for developers.

continued on page 108 >>>

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Rick Kauffman Rocking K Mountain View Ranch
Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 107
Marana Dove Mountain Jason Angell

continued from page 106

The abundance of Arizona state land east and southeast of Tucson means it takes years for a significant piece of land to come available for future development. First, the state must decide to make a parcel available. It has to go to auction. The winning bidder either has to make the investment in infrastructure or find a developer who will so it can proceed with commercial or residential development.

The development at Rocking K notwithstanding, land availability is tight in the area, so much so that White has been sounding an alarm since at least the COVID pandemic that something has to give to make more land available to accommodate the region’s growth. Because of the long-term vision that master-planned communities have to have, the currently available land is within those communities and thus where the growth will be, White said.

“Land is king. It just is,” he said. “If you have it, you can grow. If you don’t have it, or you have trouble getting ac-

cess to it, then you have challenges and you have constraints. That’s what the region is seeing now.

“The economy is based on jobs that you’re going to create here. You have industrial, logistics, distribution, manufacturing. Those are doing well. And then housing also drives the economy by producing jobs or trades and building the houses and all the different components. That’s the one that suffers if the homebuilders cannot get enough land opened up.”

David Godlewski, president and CEO of Southern Arizona Homebuilders Association, calls it a “practical reality” that developers must head to the northwest, southwest and the southeast to create new master planned communities.

Rick Kauffman, principal and CEO at Holualoa Companies, which boasts a portfolio of multi-family, office, retail and industrial space, knows which direction his company is headed, not just figuratively, but literally.

“The room for major developments

is in the southeast and northwest, it’s sort of following along I-10,” he said. “As a developer, you don’t really have that much choice. That’s where the land is. You have to go there.”

Godlewski said there are pockets of available land within the city, but those often face more scrutiny and challenges than the outlying properties in the form of height restrictions, neighborhood opposition, density limitations and infill regulatory burdens.

In the outlying areas and towns, planners have a clear idea of what works for them and what doesn’t, he said. If you have a plan that aligns with that vision, you’re often welcome to bring your growth.

“They’ve each got a different approach or characteristics,” Godlewski said, citing Sahuarita and Marana as examples. “I think that the towns have done a very good job of valuing or establishing their own vision for their communities. That ultimately affects homebuilding and real estate.”

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Master Planning Creates Integrated Communities

Home Builders Flock to Large Developments

Understanding the “sense of place” that many feel characterizes the Tucson region is a key success factor for the home builder exploring new opportunities in Southern Arizona.

“The home builders that find real success in Tucson embrace the unique nature of our community,” said David Godlewski, president of Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, the trade organization that advocates for builders in the region.

“Every once in a while, you’ll hear about a builder who will come to town and they might get a project started, then we’ll hear back from them that Tucson is just a different place,” Go dlewski said.

That those who live here treasure the area’s unique qualities certainly isn’t keeping home builders from com ing here. While rising interest rates and construction costs have slowed the mar ket since the boom that came during and right after the COVID pandemic, builders remain enthusiastic here. About 4,000 homes were permitted in 2023.

“Home builders accelerated permit activity in Spring 2023 and the start of new homes in anticipation of favorable market conditions touted nationally,” Karen Schutte, managing editor of the TREND report wrote in the March report that covers Southern Arizona’s home building market. “Strong de mand required aggressive, new home permitting policies to have products available for delivery months ahead.”

Where to build remains one of the long-term questions for home builders says Will White, land broker for Land Advisors Organization which brokers the land deals that ultimately become master-planned communities and subdivisions usually a year or more down the road.

“I think the region is really running with a lot of horsepower,” White said. “The region’s focus needs to be on how we create enough runway of land that

we can allow the home builders to do their job and get busy creating good communities and meeting the demand of the consumer.”

The home building market currently is centered on the active masterplanned communities that circle the region, White said, because that’s where the land is available that is ready for homes to be built.

“Builders are buying about 75% of all their land out of those masterplanned communities just because that’s the most efficient way to do it,” White said. “The developers of those projects get the lots ready for them, they get them approved, they have the master infrastructure built.

“The builders really can just buy what they understand, which are lots where they can have pretty uninterrupted, constant delivery to them. The master-plan market share is probably going to continue to increase because that’s the path of least resistance for the home builders.”

Within Pima County, the three master-planned communities with available land for home builders are Rocking K to the southeast of the metro area toward Vail, Rancho Sahuarita south of Tucson, and Star Valley, southwest of the metro area. Gladden Farms, a 1,350-acre master-planned development in Marana has sold all its land to builders and homes are still going up there. Just on the other side of the Pima/Pinal County line is Red Rock which has available land.

continued on page 112

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Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 111
Rancho Sahuarita Gladden Farms Jeremy Sharpe Rocking K Rocking K

continued from page 110

David Goldstein, president of Diamond Ventures, the developer of Rocking K, suggests that master-planned communities aren’t just convenient for the builders. He says they have a specific role in the overall development of a community. They can cater to first-time buyers all the way to the luxury-home buyer.

The term “master plan,” Goldstein said, implies there’s consistency in a project allowing home builders and buyers to understand what to expect when they move into one.

“When you open up a masterplanned community, you put together covenants, restrictions and design guidelines to protect the integrity of the whole community,” Goldstein said. “The beauty of a master-planned community is you build it in phases. You get feedback on what works and what doesn’t work, and it evolves over time.”

An evolution at Rocking K took place early in its development. When Diamond Ventures bought the land 40 years ago, the early stages of the master

plan included a resort and golf course on the north side of Old Spanish Trail which splits the 5,000 acres at Rocking K. And while that’s still under consideration for a future date, Goldstein said, the construction that has been taking place on 2,000 acres on the south side of the road has been residential. The plan for the southern development alone is for 4,500 homes.

Rancho Sahuarita is roughly twothirds of the way to the 9,000 homes to be built in its plan, said developer Jeremy Sharpe. The 3,000-acre community actually has entitlements for 10,500 homes. Development of the first home sites began in 2000.

“A true master plan integrates multiple uses, various types of commercial, various types of residential, and then a very in-depth focus on community and community building,” Sharpe said. “That’s a huge part of what we try to do. But large-scale community development on any level is challenging. It’s become even more challenging because of the cost of land, because of the cost of infrastructure, because of entitle-

ment risks and market risks.”

Jeff Grobstein, region president at Meritage Homes, said the masterplanned communities provide some of the stability that home builders are looking for with infrastructure and amenities in place to help builders plan their projects. But there’s more to the business for the builders who are here.

“I think I can speak on behalf of most builders, we do look outside of master plans, and we do obtain land for communities outside of master plans,” Grobstein said. “They do typically take a little longer to bring online because we may have some sort of rezoning effort or entitlement effort to bring those online

“In our portfolio of forward planning, we try to create a good mix of communities that are in good areas where we’ll be able to get into a particular buyer segment. It may take us two to three years to get through the entitlement effort and then another year to develop it, but we look at those outside areas in every market.”

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Biz Biz
Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 113

SAHBA Builds a Better Community

Advocacy, Outreach for the Home Building Industry

The members of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association are not just proponents of building houses: they are advocates for building vibrant and prosperous communities.

“We want Tucson to be a place that thrives,” said David Godlewski, president and CEO of SAHBA. “Our members are working very hard to meet the future housing needs of the community with purpose, with pride, with building high-quality products and helping enhance the greater well-being of the Tucson region.”

SAHBA, a nonprofit, member-based trade association, has 330 members and has been serving Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties for more than 70 years.

Members run the gamut from large and small home builders, landowners and developers to contractors, subcontractors, vendors and other businesses that support homebuilder operations.

“Anything that goes into building a home, from land and horizontal construction to vertical construction and getting the homeowner into the house is considered part of our family and ecosystem,” said Godlewski.

Constructing Homes, Building Relationships

The SAHBA ecosystem and the general public are served by a four-pronged plan comprised of Advocacy; Education and Awareness; Networking and Professional Development; and Community Building.

“Our primary objective is to create a favorable policy and regulatory climate for our members to make it as straight-

forward as possible to build a home,” Godlewski said.

Advocacy means working hand-inhand with local municipalities to help prepare and implement building and land-use codes, architectural standards and other regulations. SAHBA works directly with elected and non-elected government officials in county and city governments, coordinating with development services, transportation, utilities and various agencies involved with planning, permitting, approvals, inspections and other policies. Political campaigns and initiatives are also a focus.

“We have a Political Action Committee that advocates for candidates who support the building community at the local and state levels and the National Association of Home Builders advocates on the federal level,” said Steve Crawford, 2024 SAHBA board chair. He is also CEO of Pepper Viner Homes, a seven-time recipient of SAHBA Builder of the Year award. “That advocacy allows new homes to be as affordable as possible. Affordable new homes are a vital component of a vibrant community and a major factor in quality of life.”

Advocacy segues into member education on topics such as sales and marketing; remodeling; green building and technology; and generalized information on building activity, market forecasts and industry trends.

Outreach extends to the general public through the map of new home communities as well as the SAHBA Buyers Guide, both available online. The free directory features a comprehensive, user-friendly list of SAHBA members.

“This is a great resource for people who want to build a new home or need work done on an existing home and aren’t sure where to start,” said Crawford. “It is a big task, and if they use the SAHBA Buyers Guide to make contacts, they can have confidence that they are dealing with the best builders, subcontractors and businesses in the community.”

Community Building is a cornerstone of SAHBA’s mission, and workforce development is a key element. Partnerships with the Home Builders Institute at the Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center, Pima Joint Technical Education District and other organizations facilitate development of the labor force.

“We are seeing fewer people choosing the construction trades for their vocation and the majority of the current cohort of people in trades are approaching retirement. That has been a big challenge for our members,” said Godlewski.

To counter the challenge, SAHBA partners with other organizations to stage Southern Arizona Construction Career Days. The annual event offers hands-on demonstrations about the construction industry, exposure to heavy equipment, and professional networking opportunities for high school students. Partners include the Arizona Builders Alliance, Alliance for Construction Trades, and Arizona Transportation Builders Association.

“SAHBA is helping to ensure that there is a future pipeline of skilled workers to build homes,” Godlewski said. “We want to create awareness among middle school and high school

116 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024
a favorable policy and regulatory climate for our members to make it as straightforward as possible to build a home.”
David Godlewski President Southern Arizona Home Builders Association

students that the construction trade is a viable, well-paying career path with a lot of opportunities.”

Community Building is also hallmarked by charitable contributions. The SAHBA Golf Classic and various fundraising events funnel tens of thousands of dollars annually into nonprofit housing organizations such as Sister Jose Women’s Center, TMM Family Services, Habitat for Humanity, and other causes.

SAHBA also supports the Peter D. Herder Endowment Scholarship, which provides scholarships for students seeking professional certification or degrees in building and construction at Pima Community College.

“We think it is important to give back to the community that gives us so much and allows us to work and thrive,” said Crawford. “Our charitable work is a way for us to be part of not just the building world, but the entire community.”

Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 117
Pepper Viner Homes Dove Mountain Rancho Sahuarita Steve Crawford
118 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 BizREALESTATE
Spring 2024 > > > BizTucson 119

REALTORS® Help Chase the ‘Dream’

Connecting Buyers to Land and Real Estate

For individuals and families chasing the American dream, the Tucson Association of REALTORS® is a valuable resource for REALTORS who are connecting buyers and sellers in Southern Arizona.

“Owning a home is part of the American Dream. Home and property ownership is a way for people to build wealth and stability,” said Cathy Wolfson, 2024 board president of Tucson Association of REALTORS®. “As members of the association, we believe that a thriving real estate market is critical to the vitality of our communities and to a healthy economy.”

A champion of everything real estate, the TAR is a force with more than 6,500 members. TAR comprises a diverse group of real estate professionals, including licensed agents and brokers, representatives of the mortgage and lending industry, property managers and others who serve the real estate needs of Southern Arizona.

“Our members are united by adherence to professional standards and a code of ethics,” said Judy Lowe, CEO of TAR. “They are professionals dedicated to providing assistance with the sales, leases, appraisals and development of residential and commercial properties.”

The association seeks to strengthen the success of members by advocating, connecting, educating, and serving.

To accomplish these objectives, TAR supports its members and the com-

munity through an extensive in-house REALTOR® education program, collaborating with industry partners to advocate for property rights and real estate issues, connecting REALTORS® with the Multiple Listing Service of Southern Arizona – or MLSSAZ – a database of available home and land properties that consumers can search. TAR also serves the community through volunteerism and grants to local nonprofits through the Tucson REALTORS® Charitable Foundation.

TAR provides its REALTOR® members with an extensive in-house professional development education program, meeting state and national requirements for continuing education and specialized industry designations.

TAR also works with the Real Estate Political Action Committee locally and at the state and national level to support legislation that benefits private property rights, the real estate industry, and the consumer.

“We believe the freedom to buy, sell and utilize property is an inherent right for all that must be protected,” said Lowe.

As the largest trade association in Southern Arizona, TAR members collaborate regularly with city, county and state government entities to address property value-related issues such as water conservation, the housing supply, affordable housing, building restrictions and zoning laws. It also partners with other trade associations such as

the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and Certified Commercial Investment Members.

About 90,000 individuals statewide hold real estate licenses that enable them to act as salespersons and brokers for buyers or sellers. Only 50,000 can claim the title of REALTOR®.

“Holding a real estate license doesn’t make someone a REALTOR®. As REALTORS®, our code of ethics and professional standards are high: we commit to providing all clients and communities with accurate information, exceptional service, and trusted advice,” said Wolfson, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker Realty who has been a local REALTOR® for almost 40 years.

The REALTOR® designation brings other benefits such as the use of standardized forms specific to Arizona that comply with state and federal law/ regulations, which in turn helps protect the consumer.

In affiliation with the MLSSAZ, TAR connects REALTORS® with consumers in the home buying and selling process.

“Buyers from across the country and around the world can see our properties in Tucson remotely,” said Wolfson.

The REALTOR® designation is required for agents to list properties on the MLSSAZ. The online marketing platform provides comprehensive, in-depth information about all active properties in the market.

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and utilize property is an inherent right for all that must be protected.”
– Judy Lowe CEO Tucson Association of REALTORS®

Property professionals take philan thropy to the next level through the Tucson REALTORS® Charitable Foundation.

“REALTORS® give back out of the goodness of their hearts. When we help our community, it helps everyone, and it helps our businesses. It is a win for the community, a win for us, and a win for our souls and the souls of our custom ers,” said Wolfson.

The foundation has awarded grants to nearly 100 nonprofits in the community since inception. The grants have benefitted organizations representing diverse interests. Last year alone, the foundation gifted more than $66,500 to 15 organizations.

Funds are frequently accompanied by hands-on support from TAR members in the form of in-kind donations and volunteer hours.

“We raise money for so many nonprofits that I never knew existed. It helps create awareness about what is out there and the many needs in the community,” Wolfson said. “We want to spread the goodness.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, REALTORS® volunteer at twice the rate of the general population.

“We believe that all of us partnering together creates the power of real estate in Southern Arizona,” said Wolfson.

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Dove Mountain Miramonte Homes Cathy Wolfson

From the Ground Up

Honoring the Construction Ecosystem

To count the multitude of vendors, contractors, suppliers, financers and administrative and regulatory functions involved in building a home or a commercial building is almost an exercise in futility.

From where it starts with the land acquisition and preparation, to where it finishes when an owner is handed the keys, construction of a home or building is its own ecosystem.

“It’s a big process even at the least expensive level of housing,” said Jeff Grobstein, region president for Meritage Homes, one of the national builders in the region. As the developer, Meritage is the general contractor on its projects and therefore organizes and manages all its construction.

“The number of hands that touch a home during the process is almost un-

believable,” Grobstein said. “The number kind of blows you away. There are so many hands, so many touch points in every single phase.”

Jeremy Sharpe, president of Sharpe & Associates, the developer of Rancho Sahuarita south of Tucson, compares a developer to a quarterback executing a game plan with critical calls from the very start.

“With the master-planned community, the developer acts as a quarterback,” he said. “They’re coordinating infrastructure. They’re working with the public sector within the realms of their entitlements. They’re coordinating the water, sewer, road infrastructure.”

Then comes construction, which is where a builder like Meritage Homes comes in with subcontractors, material suppliers and, critically, labor – a com-

ponent of the process that has been in short supply, particularly since the COVID pandemic.

“There’s been a gap in vocational training,” Grobstein said. “To attract people to come in and do that work, even if they’re non-skilled, and then hope that they stick with it, has caused costs to go up quite a bit.”

It all ties to keeping the construction process moving by coordinating the materials, making sure labor is available, so that the precise timing of everything makes construction as efficient as possible because lost time is lost money.

Stephanie Peacock, a general contractor for Eren Design and Remodel, said timing is everything. With about 20 subcontractors involved in her projects, she said if the timing is thrown off by

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weather, late completion of a phase of a project, even an illness by a subcontractor, everyone is affected.

“You’re constantly kind of juggling,” Peacock said, noting that about half the projects have some kind of timing issue. But eventually, there’s a reward.

“The number of a home during the process is almost unbelievable. The number kind of blows you away. There are so many hands, so many touch points in every single phase.”
– Jeff Grobstein Region President Meritage Homes in Tucson

“Honestly, our clients are pretty phenomenal people,” she said, adding that the satisfaction in a project comes from “just helping them with something that they can’t do themselves.”

Aside from the physical construction are the financing, accounting and inspections that add to the ecosystem. Title companies handle the paperwork and coordinate all the processes that need to be assembled to legally turn a property over to the buyer.

Most buyers finance their homes and work with a lender like NOVA Home Loans or one of hundreds of others that are in any market.

Tom Heath, VP and senior loan officer at NOVA, uses another football analogy to describe where financing fits in the ecosystem. There are so many parts to financing, he said, a mortgage company has to make sure the players are in the right positions to avoid game-changing mistakes, especially when timing is critical.

“You can have a really talented wide receiver, but if you put them on the offensive line, they’re not going to do very well,” Heath said. “If you’ve got the right people in the right positions then it should go pretty smoothly. From a consumer standpoint, it should almost be uneventful.”

Chris Edwards, owner of Tucson Appliance, enters another part of the ecosystem, more often in the middle of the process if a new-home buyer wants to upgrade the appliances provided by a builder or if an existing homeowner wants new ones.

“Appliances are an important part of the entire house,” Edwards said. “Some people actually build around the kitchen. The cabinets and the aesthetics of it are very important to them.”

Even in his relatively small part of the process, Edwards said he’s well aware of the massive coordination it takes to complete a con-

’s a collaborative timing issue,” Edwards said. “They have to the floor, then they have to do the cabinets and then they can do the plumbing. Then they put in the appliances. The way the architects have these planned out is just like clockwork. It’s amazing the way Biz
Tom Chris Edwards
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Marana Meritage Homes Rancho Sahuarita
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Courting Commercial

Region Makes Strides in Ready Industrial Space

The decision points around the lease or purchase of a commercial property are as varied as the businesses looking for a piece of Tucson real estate.

It might be a large company or manufacturer looking to relocate to the region and in need of thousands of square feet of industrial space and resources like power and water. They might want something new or something move-in ready.

It might be a small firm looking for office space for a handful of employees.

But there is one common denominator when a broker is helping a business find a property, says Barbi Reuter, CEO at Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR Commercial Real Estate Services.

“We look at what is going to be a business solution for them, to help them

meet their company objectives,” Reuter said.

Her company went through that decision process five years ago when it moved.

“We had outgrown a building that we were in for 20 years,” she said. “We created a new space that allowed people to collaborate in a different way.”

Having been 20 years since the company’s last move, Reuter said considerations have changed dramatically for businesses, particularly in the age of working remotely. As a client and the broker, her company was on both sides of the table in the process.

“You would think that would make it so much easier to be your own client because we understand the business,” she said. “But you have a lot of stakehold-

ers to satisfy. You want to make sure it’s a marriage you like.”

For Sun Corridor Inc., the availability of commercial and industrial property is one of the key elements of its work – to attract business and industry to Tucson. Coming out of the COVID pandemic, Sun Corridor led a community effort to identify solutions where the region had to make strides. That included the availability of large parcels of land and move-in ready facilities for the many targets for relocation and expansion.

Available labor is generally the first requirement for a company considering the area. Right after that, is a place to be. What has changed in those searches, Welsh said, is the focus on water avail-

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Barbi Reuter

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ability. Now, it’s about power.

Sun Corridor has 16 projects in its “pipeline” that are looking for 50 acres or more of real estate with more need for power than water.

“The uses that they’re going to put on there are extremely power intensive,” said David Welsh, executive VP at Sun Corridor. “A 10-megawatt project would be a big project for us five, six years ago. We’re seeing multiple 100-megawatt projects come in with more robotics, more intensive use of power on site.”

Flint Development has addressed some of the need for move-in-ready industrial space. The Tucson Commerce Center on Valencia Road near Tucson International Airport has more than 800,000 square feet of space. Another spec project in Marana is nearly 1 million square feet.

“It’s helping immensely,” Welsh said. “We were not a community that enjoyed a lot of spec building. There wasn’t confidence in the local market. Seeing that go in is an expression of confidence of the development community.”

DSW Commercial Real Estate, where Michael Sarabia is the principal, has clients with more basic needs and, consequently, more real estate options. DSW manages commercial properties such as shopping centers, office complexes and multi-family residential.

In his world, real estate is readily available when, for instance, a Starbucks is looking for a spot, which it found on a lot at the southeast corner of Campbell Avenue and Grant Road, or when a restaurant is looking to open or relocate.

“The old adage of location, location, location hasn’t changed,” Sarabia said. “But that location is contingent on what you’re actually going to put there.

“For example, if I want to do a hotel, I’ll probably look closer to the central business district or look around the university. If I’m looking at housing, I’m going to look at employment in the area. I’m going to look at drive time from employment, and I’m going to look at average incomes.”

“There are pads. There is availability,” he said. “Tucson has the land and the infrastructure to keep up with it to be able to sufficiently and adequately build these projects.” Biz
David Welsh
Marana American Battery Factory’s new 2-million-square-foot gigafactory
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32nd Annual CCIM

The Region’s Real Estate Outlook

The status of real estate in Southern Arizona this year will remain about the same as in 2023 until interest rates decline, members of the Southern Arizona CCIM were told at the annual organization’s annual real estate forecast.

A record number of Certified Commercial Investment Members attended the Feb. 29 event at Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa. Panelists discussed the industrial, multi-family, office and retail sectors of real estate. They also heard an overall outlook of the economy by guest speaker Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors. Yun told the members that the outlook mainly rests on what the Federal Reserve does with interest rates as it tries to rein in inflation.


CBRE Industrial Specialist Jackson Kraft said the Flint Development project adjacent to I-10 in Marana will tell how industrial real estate absorption is going. The company has built two huge warehouses on 50 acres with 807,000 square feet of space.

Another 800,000 square feet of warehouse space has been constructed

near Tucson International Airport and has been leased. The largest demand for space is 5,000 to 80,000 square-foot spaces, Kraft said, and tenants will be more diversified this year.

Vacancies overall, he said, are at about 4%.

Max Fisher, an industrial properties broker with BRD Realty, said individual building and land prices will pick up this year, but it will be competitive. A number of large companies are sitting on land waiting to decide how to use it, he said. Pricing for new space will see $120 per square foot but that may increase to $140 per square foot later in the year.


Michelle Goldberg, a property manager and investor with Park LLC and Allan Mendelsberg, principal with Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR looked at the multi-family sector.

Mendelsberg said multi-family properties are remaining on the market for 10 to 12 days and that rents have accelerated in the last four to five years. Goldberg, however, said rents are stabilizing while demand for units is huge.

“There are a lot of people that need housing right now,” Goldberg said. “Everything is supply and demand and there’s little supply now.”

In terms of supply, Mendelsberg said Tucson is in pretty good shape, but the area needs more units built as Tucson’s population increases. He said developers are looking for distressed properties to remodel.

He said only 15% of Tucson residents can afford high-end rents. “We’re paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

Insurance, Mendelsberg said, “has been a disaster,” with rates likely to increase 20% to 40% this year.


Jon O’Shea, a designated broker with Vast Commercial Real Estate, said most of the office space in Tucson is 4,000 square feet and smaller. Office needs never died during the COVID-19 epidemic, noted Thomas J. Nieman, principal with Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR, but the sector became more complicated.

Small businesses are still using offices as a cultural hub even though many people can still work from home, O’Shea said.

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Economic Forecast

“Being (working) alone isn’t that much fun,” added Nieman. “If (workers) are not in the office, how do you train someone? The office is necessary. It’s never going to go away.”

Medical office space is very healthy economically now, the panelists said.

“People need doctors and doctors need real estate,” O’Shea said. Tucson has an aging population and medical businesses need to grow to keep up with the demands of older residents, he said.


Retail sales in Southern Arizona have been slightly higher and the leasing of space in the 4,000-square-foot range has been strong, said Dave Hammack, principal with Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR

What about Park Place Mall’s future?

Melissa Lal, CEO of Larsen Baker, said the death of malls has been glacially slow. She said the old Sears building could be turned into mixed use and selfstorage. There may even be multi-family units built in the mall’s parking lot.

Hammack said there is unlimited demand for tea shops in Tucson. “I’m a tea fan and it’s a competitive market,”

Lal added.

Any new concept retail stores coming to Tucson?

“Last year, it was ax throwing, this year it’s colonics,” Lal said. She said membership colonic shops are coming.

Also coming, Lal said, is a new restaurant, Cava. She described it as a Mediterranean Chipotle. Hammack said SCHEELS, a sporting goods chain, is also headed here from Phoenix.

Overall Outlook

Overall, Yun said, interest rates will drive the markets.

The office sector, he said, is still bleeding and high interest rates are hindering borrowing and refinancing.

Large banks were able to prepare for the Fed’s multiple rate hikes, Yun said, but smaller commercial banks were not. Most real estate loans are made by smaller commercial banks, he noted. When interest rates decline, he said, small commercial banks will be in better financial shape.

Yun blamed the Fed for not doing its job two years ago when it came to curbing inflation and then raised rates quickly.

On the multi-family scene, Yun said, there are massive apartment complexes going up in Phoenix and Texas and that apartment construction is at a 40-year high.

However, the federal deficit is hurting the economy and government spending exceeds tax revenue, he said. The cost of financing the national debt matches U.S. spending on defense, Yun said.

On the job front, Yun said, job creation is up and unemployment down.

His predictions for 2024:

• The Fed will cut interest rates, perhaps four times.

• Commercial property prices will stabilize, but not in the office sector

• There will be moderate economic growth.

• Land and single home sales will do well.

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MENDELSBERG Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR
J. NIEMAN Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR DAVE HAMMACK Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR JON O’SHEA Vast Commercial Real Estate MELISSA LAL, CCIM Larsen Baker
136 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 IMAGE COURTESY BOURN COMPANIES

Uptown, an Update

Bourn Companies Breaks Ground on First Building of New Urban Village

Uptown, the ambitious redevelopment of Foothills Mall, continues to progress.

After a strategic, year-long demolition that preserved some mall elements and paved the way for its re-imagined future, the first phase of construction is underway on Uptown’s inaugural five-story, 157-unit residential building. It’s a promising milestone for what will become Tucson’s first high-density urban village.

“We’re building it for today and tomorrow, as opposed to a half-century ago,” Don Bourn, owner of Bourn Companies, told BizTucson last year. “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.”

The current phase of construction focuses on creating the Uptown’s many housing options from studios to three-bedroom residences. The midrise building will feature five studios, 56 twobedroom units and 21 threebedroom units–in total, encompassing 209,980 square feet.

Bour n Companies is also driven in its design to offer luxury amenities in the building,

including a speakeasy lounge, panoramic rooftop deck, a sports clubhouse, fully equipped party kitchen, library and curated outdoor spaces.

Also, included in this phase will be the critical infrastructure initiatives, including internal roads and utilities that are essential for the new mixed-use development, which will ultimately feature dining, fitness, retail and entertainment.

Uptown is being built “in today’s world, with the latest and greatest components,” Bourn said. “We’re being very intentional about how design impacts environment, and people’s sense of wanting to be there.”

During the construction, existing tenants like AMC, Barnes & Noble, Whiskey Roads and others continue to operate. The Saturday Foothills Community Markets, which support Tucson small businesses, also continue.

Bourn has partnered with BCS Enterprises, Inc. for its expertise in the demolition phase and Borderlands Construction for infrastructure work, PMM Architects and general contractor Chasse Building Team on the first residential building.

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Project: Marana Community & Aquatics Center

Location: 13455 N. Marana Main St.

Owner: Town of Marana

Contractor: Chasse Building Team

Architect: Architekton

Completion Date: May 2025

Construction Cost: $54 million

Project Description: The center will include a 12-lane competition pool, recreation pool, slides, basketball courts, indoor track, fitness center and state-of-the-art gaming facility.

Project: Arizona State Museum North Renovation

Location: 1013 E. University Blvd.

Owner: Arizona Board of Regents

Contractor: Sundt Construction

Architect: Poster Mirto McDonald

Completion Date: Estimated early summer 2024

Construction Cost: $20 million

Project Description: This renovation project on the University of Arizona campus will encompass both exterior and interior work.

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Project: Teen Challenge Men’s Center

Location: 2637 N. Oracle Road

Owner: Teen Challenge

Contractor: Concord General Contracting

Architect: Light + Path Architecture

Completion Date: August 2025

Construction Cost: $22 million

Project Description: The existing building will be completely demolished and rebuilt as a new Teen Challenge Men’s Center.

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A Tucson Treasure

This is a special place.

Kimberly Wood knew it right away when she arrived in July 2021 for an interview for the CEO and general manager of Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge. Yes, even in July, the allure of the Tucson club built thoughtfully amidst the desert splendor was unmistakable.

“There was just a feeling that you got when you were at this property,” she recalled.

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary and 20th under member ownership, the

award-winning club’s rich history shines brightly as one of the premier destinations in the Southwest.

“It’s an honor to be here for such a very important time in the history of this club,” said Wood. “Celebrating 40 years and 20 years as being memberowned is huge. I think having the opportunity to help set the vision and take all of the successes of the last 40 years and help put us on the path for the next 40, it’s an honor to be a part of that.”

Anchored by two 18-hole courses masterfully created by renowned golf architect Tom Fazio, Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge today offers a haven of healthy living for its members and guests. From its tennis and pickleball courts to its newly rejuvenated day spa, its refurbished 50-suite boutique hotel to its two swimming pools and familycentric activities, the club is consistently showered with national awards of excellence and accolades from golf and travel magazines.

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Turns 40 Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge Celebrates

“Almost every time, when we drive in the gate and up to the of us says, ‘Isn’t this amazing? Aren’t we lucky to be here?’ ” said Sylvia Pozarnsky, chair of the board of managers for the Ventana Canyon Alliance, which has owned the club for two decades. “It’s just a phenomenal, majestic place.” Added member Dave Park, “The more time passes, Ventana becomes more central to our whole way of life. We have watched and loved the growth of the community and especially the friends we have made...”

a Milestone

Desert Beginnings

In the 1920s, Ventana Canyon was home to the Flying V Dude Ranch, a collection of stone and adobe cottages that attracted visitors from across the country for horseback riding, shooting and the quintessential Western experience.

It was in the 1980s that the Estes Company saw the land’s potential for development. With no roads at the time, Bill Estes and his team took a helicopter to survey the area. A fortuitous sighting of two deer and then, a rainbow, helped

cement the decision that it was the perfect spot to build the Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club. From the beginning, the Estes team took painstaking care to ensure the new club would have minimal environmental impact, engaging consultants to preserve as much of the landscape as possible.

When the club opened in 1984, those who signed up to be members didn’t fully know what they were getting. It speaks volumes that 53 of those original members are still members today. “This

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was literally before anything was really here and they took that leap of faith,” Wood said.

Member Fred Adler recalled when he first came to Ventana for a company conference six months after the golf course opened. “The moment I stepped onto the grounds, I just felt it was a magical place. The golf course was and still is amazing, and walking into the clubhouse and lodge just felt like you were somewhere special.”

Buying Back the Club

Fueled by the heyday of golf in the 1980s, the club would thrive, even hosting the Merrill Lynch PGA Shootout in 1987 and 1988 on the Mountain Course, luring talent such as Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart.

Membership would then ebb and flow through the 1990s but by the early 2000s, the future became uncertain.

After Estes had built Ventana, the club changed owner ship numerous times, last purchased by Dallas-based Wyn dham International. By 2003, several members became concerned that the club would be sold again, perhaps to a company with intentions not aligned with theirs.

“A small group of members got together and said, ‘We want to own our own destiny, our own future,’ ” recalled longtime member Pozarnsky. “So, let’s form a company. They managed to get enough members to step up and purchase shares so that we could buy the property and become member-owned.”

The Alliance purchased the club for $15.5 million and named George White its first CEO and general manager. He would serve until 2021, when he retired and Wood was named his successor.

Poised for the Future

Today, the club continues to flourish under Wood and her team and the club’s twin governing bodies, a board of governors that represents the members, and the Alliance’s board of managers that operates the club’s business.

Leadership on both boards is guided by members with impressive business acumen and experience – many of whom retired from top corporations. They have lent their expertise in hospitality, legal or risk management insurance or even cyber security technology.

Member Ernie Manuel served on the board of managers for seven years. “I’m always amazed when I meet people at a club function or a wine dinner and find out what they did in their career. They are willing to donate their time to make the club run better. We’re really lucky in that regard.”

The club also successfully uses task forces to pursue new initiatives, such as a most recent one that will focus on new wellness programs – a future priority for the members.

“It’s exciting because nobody’s looking to get stuck in the mundane or just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Wood said. “There’s so many initiatives that the board and the management team have taken on together.”

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Biz Kimberly Wood Michele Smith Ernie Manuel Sylvia Pozarnsky
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Glorious Golf is Just the Start

Tennis, Pickleball, Spa Offer

Perfect Venue for Active Living

At the foot of the majestic Catalina Mountains in a 600-acre desert reserve, two 18-hole championship courses designed by legendary architect Tom Fazio are the first indications that this isn’t just any golf destination.

Rooted in these storied 36 holes, with prestigious awards and accolades from top golf and travel publications, Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge has created a bespoke Tucson experience over the last 40 years and looks to keep its momentum strong, with an inviting resort pool and bar, refurbished lodge suites, a rejuvenated day spa and a friendly staff known for its customer service. Indeed, “Personal Warmth” is truly the brand here.

“This is such a great destination... and the more we can share this fantastic property we have with people, the bet ter,” said Bill Peters, Ventana’s director of golf.

To be sure, it starts with globally ac claimed golf.

seamlessly carved into rocky cliffs.

“Tom Fazio is really known for adult courses that are very fair, they’re out in front of you,” said Peters. “There’s nothing tricked up. He uses the lay of

effect on how the putting greens are laid out.”

Ventana Canyon recently hosted 40 raters from Golfweek Magazine to play and judge the holes anew. “They all said the same thing, it’s challenging, but yet very fair,” Peters said. “And that’s always a huge compliment to a golf course.”

Golfers across the country and world seek winter refuge on these sundrenched, saguaro-studded courses and to try their luck on the signature hole – a formidable cliff-to-cliff par-3 atop a manmade cart path– arguably the most photographed hole in the West. Fazio, known for creating challenging holes at U.S. courses, including the venerable Augusta National Golf Club, designed Ventana’s courses with a mix of slick, sweeping greens and elevated tee boxes

property we have with people, the better.”

In fact, Ventana CEO and General Manager Kimberly Wood said she still doesn’t get a definite answer when she asks golfers which course is their favorite, Mountain or Canyon. “There are hings they like about both of them. I don’t think a lot of courses can say

“We’ve certainly experienced significant growth in golf groups,” added hele Smith, Ventana’s chief marketing and sales officer. “Many loyal roups have been returning to Ventana for 5, 10, 20-plus years, and the word is spreading to a new generation of golfers

Once Ventana has you at golf, the club and its amenities are next level.

The clubhouse, with a stunning floorto-ceiling stone fireplace, is a post-golf haven with a bar and grill, picturesque patio, and newly renovated club member rooms with private lounges, locker rooms plus steam, sauna and whirlpool areas for therapy and relaxation.

Doubling as a 50-suite boutique hotel, Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge has garnered recognition for its accommodations, dining, wine list, and dedi-

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cyclists, triathletes and hikers. “This is a great jumping off point for all outdoor enthusiasts,” said Smith.

Finally, the lodge’s boutique ambiance and rugged desert beauty provide the perfect backdrop for weddings, parties, corporate events, meetings and more. “Because of our location, unique size and variety of indoor and outdoor spaces, it’s ideal for groups and wedding parties to take over the whole property for their events,” said Smith.

One unique event space is The Reserve, a green clearing flanked by potted fountains behind the clubhouse that can seat up to 200 people. It has hosted events ranging from morning stretch classes to a recent sold-out holiday brunch, called The Toast, that featured Tucson’s James Beard Award winners and nominees, including Don Guerra of Barrio Bread and Wendy Garcia of Yelp’s No. 1-rated Tumerico. It was a decadent celebration that honored the city’s distinction as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Biz
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PHOTOS COURTESY VENTANA CANYON CLUB AND LODGE Ventana Canyon recently hosted “The Toast” featuring Tucson’s James Beard award winners and nominees

Programs with Purpose

Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge Values Family, Community and Wellness

Throughout its 40 years, Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge has curated and customized its programs to meet the changing needs of its members.

As the award-winning club looks to the future, there’s an even grander goal: wellness.

“We want to help our members live more active lives and be healthier longer,” explained CEO and General Manager Kimberly Wood. “We think that’s very important. This is just such an active community, so we want to make sure that we’re offering to our members not just physical wellness, but also mental and spiritual wellness.”

Since opening in 1984, Ventana’s pro-

gramming has evolved over the decades to include not only golf, tennis, swimming and pickleball, but now, numerous family and youth activities, trivia and bingo nights, exclusive wine dinners, lecture series with local experts, book clubs, art shows, symphony concerts and more. Strategically, the programs are chosen with a focus on nature, culture and community.

Central to this mission has been Vice President and Clubhouse Manager Clayton Robideau, who has helped implement many successful programs during his tenure. “I’m super proud of being part of this team,” he said. “I think we’re one of the premier clubs in

Tucson. I believe in the leadership. So, it’s exciting right now, because we’re being able to do a lot of fun things.”

Robideau relishes the creative and entrepreneurial edge of programming here. “Each year, do we just plug in everything we’ve always done? No, we figure out how do we take that baseline and continue to push the envelope forward and not become complacent.”

Moving forward, the plan is to offer even more programs central to wellness, seeking out community partnerships to do so. “There’s so much to tie into with this community,” said Wood.

Some highlights of Ventana’s programs:

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Clayton Robideau

All About Family

From the youngsters who practice and play in Ventana’s pools to the awesome squeal of children at the annual Meet Santa breakfast and Easter egg hunt, this is absolutely a club that values families. Over the past decade, Ventana has steadily grown its summer camp programs to accommodate more children able to enjoy a mix of golf, tennis, swimming and daily lunch.

Adding monthly trivia and bingo nights has provided more opportunity for families to bond over friendly competition. Weekly movie nights at the resort pool in the summer are also a huge draw.

Ventana even recently hired a fulltime children’s program coordinator to organize and expand its offerings. “We really want to commit to this and we want to bring in that family demographic to the membership,” said Wood. “The vibrant energy of families, even our older members are drawn to it. They’re having a blast with their grandkids and leaving their legacy.”

Fostering the Next Golf Generation

Ventana Canyon Club and Lodge has its own PGA Jr. team, the Ventana

Canyon Roadrunners. The group of 15 young golfers, ages 7-17, is led by assistant golf pro Justin Lindberg. The team practices weekly and competes against other junior teams across Tucson.

“It’s like a little traveling league,” said Bill Peters, Ventana’s director of golf. “It’s a good group of kids that are just getting invested into golf and it’s fun to see because that is our future.”

A Winning Wine Program

Beginning in 2007, a committee of passionate members has helped pioneer an outstanding wine program at the club. Working with Robideau, they’ve planned numerous dinners and pairings aimed at every price point, from regional Chardonnays to exclusive French Bordeaux. The club also has a retail license and can sell wines to its members.

“Our wine list has been awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2012,” said Ernie Manuel, who chairs the wine committee. “We are the only country club in Southern Arizona to be on the list, and one of only four dining establishments in Southern Arizona to receive the award this past year.”

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BeachFleischman PLLC has appointed principal George Henderson as president. He succeeds firm co-founder David Cohen, who has served in the role since 2016. Henderson will report to CEO Eric Majchrzak and continue his duties as COO of finance and accounting and acting liaison to firm subsidiary companies. He remains a member of the management, merger and acquisition, and strategic planning committees.

The Tucson Values Teachers board of directors selected long-time educator

Teresa Hill as the non-profit organization’s new CEO. She succeeds Andy Heinemann who announced his retirement earlier this year. Hill most recently served as the deputy director for the Arizona Educational Foundation and taught education law and personnel courses part-time at Northern Arizona University, where she earned her doctorate in 2019.

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Teresa Hill
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Top row from left: Maria Elena Cornejo, Marcel and Mara
Bottom row from left: Lucas, Nicolas and Elena PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY

Marcel Dabdoub

Values in Action

When talking about his four children, Marcel Dabdoub is quick to give all the credit to his wife, Maria Elena.

“She’s made the most sacrifices for us,” said Dabdoub, the CEO of CID Holdings, a real estate investment company in Tucson.

That seems exactly what a Father of the Year would say. Dabdoub was awarded the honor by Father’s Day Council Tucson, whose mission is twofold. First, the council identifies and honors men who are successful in their field and also serve as role models. The second is to raise funds for Type 1 diabetes research and endowment at Steele Children’s Research Center at the University of Arizona. Since 1994, the council has donated nearly $5 million.

The Father’s Day Council Tucson will hold its 28th annual gala to honor Dabdoub and four other fathers on June 8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

Dabdoub was bor n in Nogales, Mexico, but he has lived in Tucson for decades. He attended Salpointe Catholic High School and then Boston University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a double concentration in finance and international management.

“I was trying to gain a different perspective,” said Dabdoub of traversing across the country for his undergraduate degree.

He returned to Tucson in 2000 to pursue law and MBA degrees from the University of Arizona. He worked as an attorney for several years in Tucson

and Mexico City. It was in Mexico City where Dabdoub met his wife, also an attorney practicing international intellectual property law in the same firm. The couple started dating in 2003 and married in 2006.

“I was really happy for him,” Maria Elena said of the award. “He loves being able to make a contribution to such a great cause, and I love that the Father’s Day Council acknowledges what I see as a very important role for men beyond their professional achievements.”

They are the parents of four children, Mara, 13, twin boys Nicolas and Lucas, 11, and Elena, 6.

“He sets a strong example for our kids,” Maria Elena said. “Everything he does is a reflection of his core values, and it’s easier to learn from someone whose actions are aligned with his intention. He is always fair, always willing to help others, always positive and always focused on the solution.”

“I think he deserves it, and he’s a great father,” said his oldest, Mara. “He’s always making sure we’re happy.”

Lucas, one of Marcel’s 11-year-old sons, echoed his sister’s thoughts. “He always takes time out of his day to take us places. On Sundays, he takes us to breakfast, and he takes us to tennis and soccer practices. He always makes us happy.”

He currently serves as CEO of CID Holdings and BioPhil Natural Fibers, a North Carolina-based manufacturing business that produces hurd and fiber as a sustainable alternative to

non-renewable or non-biodegradable raw materials. He also was named 2017 Businessman of the Year by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Dabdoub, 46, is right in the middle of five siblings himself. As he was growing up in Mexico, he said he had a firm role model in his father, Luis Fernando Dabdoub. He also praised his wife as a wonderful role model for their children.

“My wife is very present with them,” he said. “We give them a lot of opportunity to experience the world.”

That includes a lot of travel. Dabdoub said the whole family goes on yearly cycling trips in Europe and frequent fishing trips in the Sea of Cortez.

Dabdoub stressed the importance of exposing his kids to many things in life.

“Finding those opportunities for them is so important,” he said. “All their information is not going to come just from you.”

Dabdoub also is committed to his community. He has served on a variety of boards, such as Casa Hogar Madre Conchita girls orphanage in Nogales; the Southern Arizona Community Foundation; and the Carondelet Health Network.

“There is no doubt that his top priority is his family,” said Luis Dabdoub, Marcel’s 50-year-old brother. “Whether he’s traveling the world for something having to do for his kids, or taking one of his kids for a run or ride in the mornings before work, he has no higher calling.”

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152 BizTucson < < < Spring 2024 2024 FATHER OF THE YEAR HONOREE
From left – Jessica, Jiya, Terry & Terry Jr. PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY

Terry D. Hemmitt

Weathering the Storms

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Hemmitt is on a mission to ensure the airmen he leads and develops have the training, equipment and opportunities to face challenges head-on.

“We can’t prepare the path, but we want to prepare the person,” said Terry, Senior Enlisted Leader of the 755th Operations Support Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

The military recipient of the Father’s Day Council Tucson Father of the Year award puts that same philosophy into practice with his family, for his wife, Jessica, and as a parents to Jiya, 6, Terry Jr., 3, and goddaughter, Tamia, 18.

“For me, success boils down to the ability to weather the inevitable storms that life brings your way,” Terry said. “It comes down to having the opportunities to be the best version of you and having what you need to be prepared to tackle obstacles.”

It’s a tried-and-true conviction for Terry, who has faced obstacles of his own. He never knew his father, and he was raised by his disabled grandmother in inner Kansas City.

“We didn’t have a lot of income, but my grandmother instilled a serious work ethic in me,” he said. “Watching her make sacrifices and understanding what that meant has been a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me.”

Determined to attend college, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and began a career that has spanned 18 years. He credits the military with providing resources to earn a college degree and to acquire transferable skills.

“That was why I signed up, but I reenlisted because I realized there were many benefits beyond the hard technical skills the Air Force teaches,” Terry said. “It exposes you to people from different backgrounds, helps you develop character, and helps you grow to your potential and become the person you want to be.”

For the past decade, he has realized his potential alongside his wife, Jessica. Together, the couple has risen to life’s challenges, including Type 1 diabetes.

Jessica, 33, was diagnosed as a teenager. With virtually no family history, the news came as a shock.

“For many years I was in denial about my diabetes,” Jessica said. “There were many times I wouldn’t take my insulin and by the grace of God, I never got really sick.”

The cost of insulin was also a factor, and the aspiring chef rationed her medication for many years. That changed when Jessica and Terry decided to have children.

“It was hard to control my sugar levels during my pregnancy. I had hyperemesis with both pregnancies, so I couldn’t eat and couldn’t take insulin. I was hospitalized many times, and my body was breaking down,” Jessica said.

Now a pastry baker at Monsoon Chocolate, Jessica wears an insulin pump − a small, computerized device that delivers a steady flow of insulin through a thin tube under her skin that makes it easier to control blood sugar levels. She also wears a glucose monitor. Jessica credits her husband with be-

ing by her side emotionally and physically as she has incorporated motherhood into her health journey.

“The thing that I find most difficult is trying to explain to the kids what it means when I have low blood sugar,” she said. “I tell them, ‘Mommy needs a juice box and has to sit down.’ Jiya is starting to grasp it. I explain the importance of dialing 911 if I can’t wake up and telling the paramedics that I have diabetes.”

The couple hopes that shining a light on Jessica and the daily realities of Type 1 diabetes will facilitate research supported by the Father’s Day Council Tucson Endowed Chair at Steele Children’s Research Center.

Jessica is optimistic about advances in disease management − including insulin pumps that communicate with glucometers through a closed loop system to administer insulin as needed. She also is a proponent of the accessibility to care and education afforded by Steele Center.

“Nothing would make me happier than just making Type 1 diabetes a little easier for children to deal with,” she said. “I am all for a cure, but I also support any tiny steps along the way.”

“I saw what it was like for Jessica to navigate becoming a mom while living with Type 1 diabetes and also being a military wife and a working mom,” Terry said. “There are so many layers and complexities, and Jessica has educated me so much about how to support people living with this disease.”

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Terry Hemmitt Chief Master Sergeant 755th Operations Support Squadron Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
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From left – Rylin, Tim, Lori & Keegan PHOTO BY CHRIS MOONEY

Tim Medcoff

Experiencing Life

There is nothing better for Tim Medcoff than being on a trip with his family as long as they are together.

“We’ve made it a priority,” Tim said. “We’re big believers that life’s a journey, and we need to experience things. We never wanted our kids to be sheltered, so we’ve had them experience things, taking our kids places.”

A managing partner at Farhang & Medcoff, Tim was named one of five Father of the Year honorees by the Father’s Day Council Tucson. They will be honored at the 28th annual gala on June 8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

International trips are frequent for the family, he said. It’s about his family “experiencing different things, because you grow when you interact with people with different backgrounds.”

His son, Keegan, will be traveling in April to Japan and daughter, Rylin, is taking an internship in France.

“Lori and I are really happy for both of our kids that those values of travel, of getting out of their comfort zone, have been instilled,” he said.

Tim waxed poetic on taking his family back to his mom’s native Vietnam, to see where her life started.

“She was brave enough to leave her homeland and give me a chance for a better life, and to see my dad had integrity even though he didn’t have much money because he was a private in the army,” he said.

That was 1971. Fast forward to today and family has always been paramount even as he’s been busy with community work.

“I don’t do things for accolades or recognition,” Tim said, adding the award “is a testament to a lot of hard work. I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife who’s been a great partner. She’s helped me raise two amazing kids and has supported me every step of my journey.

“It’s so humbling to be recognized. I was basically raised to be kind, be nice, do hard work and be honest,” he said.

He tries to instill in his kids the same mantra his parents gave him while growing up in Michigan, Alaska, then Tucson.

“I’m so lucky to have my dad as my father,” Rylin said. “He supports me chasing my dreams and my passions without asking anything in return. He just does it because he wants to see his kids successful and happy.

“I love that no matter what I choose, he is always there to catch me if I fall and lift me up when I succeed. He’s worked hard his whole life to support our family and give us the world.”

Added Keegan: “I love how my father always supports our family. He supports me, guides me and backs me in my interests.”

Tim admitted he’s “Type A and driven” but still tries hard to be “around as much as I can.” “It’s about balanc-

ing the work requirements and being around, being a good husband and good parent.”

It wasn’t always easy, given his highprofile job as a well-established attorney in Tucson. When studying to become a lawyer, he told Lori that his dream was to start his own firm so he “could give myself a little more flexibility to coach my son’s teams and I could be present for my daughter’s horse events.”

He’s been able to do that – again –because Lori is “a fierce, loving person who picks up when I have to focus on work.”

It’s that work ethic and ambition that attracted Lori to Tim so many years ago, on a blind date, no less. Lori said he knew what kind of law he wanted to practice and what kind of house he wanted − one with a circular driveway.

“He’s achieved all his goals,” she said. “He has the home and practice he’s always wanted. It’s amazing in that he’s done everything he set out to do. He had so many dreams, and he shared them with me. It’s amazing that after 24 years, he’s accomplished the things he said he would. He’s focused and driven, but he also enjoys everything about life. It’s nice to see all that happen.”

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From left – Larry, Mia, Tiana & Jeff

Jeff Ronstadt


In a family known for commerce and leadership in Tucson—not to mention music royalty—Jeff Ronstadt is forging his own path as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and 2024 Father of the Year.

The fourth-generation Tucsonan is honored to contribute to this community. Jeff counts volunteerism and his roles as husband to Tiana and father to Mia, 21, and Larry, 20, as his biggest blessings.

“You can easily tell the character of someone by how they treat those who can do nothing for them,” said Ronstadt. “This quote is a measuring stick for how I try to live my life.”

The Father’s Day Council Tucson will honor Jeff along with four other fathers at its 28th annual gala on June 8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

Jeff credits his father, Jim Ronstadt, longtime director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Tucson—along with grandfathers Ed Ronstadt and John Montano—for instilling a strong sense of family and philanthropy in him and his siblings. Jeff’s father, a 2007 Father of the Year, is the oldest of 12 and his cousin is legendary singer Linda Ronstadt.

“My father never met a nonprofit that he didn’t want to join,” Jeff said. “Watching my mom and dad give back and work to make Tucson a better place made me think that I should give back, too.”

Jeff began volunteering as a member of Phi Delta Theta at the University of Arizona and then joined the 20-30 Men’s Club of Tucson, where he met Tiana through the 20-30 Women’s Club. They’ve been married for 25 years.

“You talk about giving back and how much you get from that. Well, not only have I made so many dear friends, but I met my wife,” he said.

After starting Ronstadt Insurance, Jeff took his involvement further at the encouragement of mentors, including the late Chick Hawkins. Jim Click, Humberto Lopez and others also inspired his support of nonprofits including Arizona Daily Star Sportsmen’s Fund, The Centurions, Tucson Conquistadores and Rotary Club of Tucson.

Jeff is also a champion of Steele Children’s Research Center, where he has served on the advisory board for more than a decade. He and Tiana initially got involved with their children through Kids of Steele, which offers volunteer opportunities for families. After Christmas 2011, that connection became intensely personal when Larry, age 7, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Lymphoma.

“We were donors and a member family with Kids of Steele and suddenly, our son became a patient and then a cancer survivor,” said Tiana, a licensed financial advisor who owns Power Women Investing. “Larry has also been a research participant with Dr. Fayez Ghishan, the director of Steele Center, and that really changed the dynamics of our relationship. I see it as a privilege that we have been involved on all sides with this organization.”

During Larry’s grueling five-year chemotherapy treatment, Jeff and Tiana gained insight into the lives of families managing serious illnesses. Flexible work schedules, incredible staff, amazing friends and family support allowed them to focus on Larry’s recovery.

“Dr. Ghishan has colleagues from top universities and hospitals across the country and around the world,” said Jeff. “Because of these international relationships, our children get the most cutting-edge information to support their treatments. His ability to bring all these people together puts him one step closer to sainthood.”

The couple also credited the skilled and caring staff at Steele and Diamond Children’s Medical Center for their tremendous impact.

“In many ways when your kid is diagnosed with blood cancer, your journey is short,” Jeff said. “Tragically, you either have a negative outcome or you have a positive outcome, as we did. When you have a child with a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, it is a lifetime journey that no one signs up for. Thanks to Dr. Ghishan and the amazing people at Steele Center, these kids have access to state-of-the-art treatments right here in our own backyard.”

Looking forward, Jeff has some fatherly advice for his kids and other young people, including the 140 men he supports as chapter advisor for Phi Delta Theta.

The “lifelong learner,” drummer and optimist encourages kids to read everything they can, seek out mentors they admire and pursue meaningful relationships.

“At the end of the day, whether you have $1 or $1 million, if you have meaningful relationships, you will be happy,” he said.

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From left – Alexa, Jason, Matthew & Joyce PHOTO: BY CHRIS MOONEY

It’s been said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

You could argue Jason Wong earned his nomination for Father of the Year through those of his children’s.

“Jason’s love language is food,” said his wife, Joyce. “He’s a very talented chef and loves to cook. Every weekend, you’ll find him cooking up a feast to share with family and friends.”

Jason is one of this year’s Father of the Year honorees chosen by Father’s Day Council Tucson, which recognizes fathers who are role models and also raises funds for Type 1 diabetes research and endowment at Steele Children’s Research Center. Since 1994, the council has raised nearly $5 million.

It will hold its 28th annual gala to honor Jason and four other fathers on June 8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort.

Jason, 68, grew up in Flagstaff but moved to Tucson to study pharmacy at the University of Arizona in 1973. After he graduated, he worked in the field for just a few years.

“I’m too social of a person to be kept behind a counter counting pills,” he said. “You didn’t have time to fully interact with people.”

He then re-entered the restaurant business, having grown up working in his family’s diner and chop suey house in Flagstaff. He and Joyce bought Golden Dragon restaurant on Oracle Road in 1981. Joyce worked the front of the house, while Jason was the chef.

The seven-day-a-week grind was difficult to maintain, however, so the couple exited the business in 1984. “There was no personal or social life,” Jason

Jason Wong Recipe for Fatherhood

said. “I love the business, but it’s very difficult.”

He first met Joyce in the mid-1970s at a dance at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center.

“I knew she was special,” he said. He saw her again at the UArizona where she was majoring in fashion design. They started dating and married in 1981.

After selling Golden Dragon, residential real estate was next on Jason’s career list. The 1986 recession was tough to weather, but he persevered. He now works for Red Point Development, a commercial real estate company focusing on land, commercial and townhome development.

The couple has two children − Alexa, now a 31-year-old ICU nurse for Banner Health, and Matthew, 29, who works in the family’s real estate business, now in its third generation.

“Being a dad is one of the best experiences you have in your life,” Jason said. “Your child challenges you and brings you a lot of satisfaction.”

“My dad was your typical Asian father, very stoic, ‘Did you do your homework,’ ‘How are your grades?’ ” Jason said recalling his upbringing.

He said the transition to parenthood was difficult at first. “Hopefully, if you do your job right, you emphasize the positives, you acknowledge the negatives, but you don’t dwell on the negatives,” he said.

“The Chinese have a saying: ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ ” he said. “It’s so true. You need grandparents, family and friends. As a parent, you only have so much influence.”

He’s also quick to praise his wife. “My wife has the greatest and the most influence on them,” he said.

She sings Jason’s praises, too. “When Jason shares his food, he shares his heart,” Joyce said. “Everyone leaves our house with a full stomach, a smiling heart and a bag of leftovers for another meal.”

“Some of my favorite memories are my dad making Chinese food, immersing my brother and I in Chinese culture at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, and having us travel to China,” said daughter Alexa.

Added son Matthew: “Growing up, I loved our late-night cooking sessions. My dad would cook whatever dishes my friends and me wanted to eat.

“One time, dad was trying to perfect the recipe for Asian hotdogs to be sold at Tucson Meet Yourself. Dad perfected the Zen Dog and Dragon Dog and sold thousands of them to raise money for the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center.”

Jason stresses the importance of being involved where you live.

“When I was growing up, my mom told me you have to be part of the community,” said Jason, who participated in Greater Tucson Leadership and serves on various community committees. “You hope that community involvement will rub off,” he said, chuckling.

Above all, Jason hopes his children remember one thing.

“I hope they learn that it’s OK to fail,” he said. “So many people live their lives being uncertain. It’s OK to fail. Just get up and try again.”

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James C. Wyant Global Optics Entrepreneur

James C. Wyant, one of the world’s most renowned optical scientists and a longtime Tucsonan, leaves a legacy that will live through the graduate students he mentored, the universities he helped fund and his brilliance and innovation.

Wyant grew up on a farm in Ohio, teaching himself physics and plane geometry and working on inventions in a shop his dad built for him when he was about four years old.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in

Medal, SPIE Chandra Vikram Award and the SPIE Visionary Award. He received a University of Arizona Technology Innovation Award and an Eller College of Management Entrepreneurial Fellowship, and five times received R&D Magazine’s R&D 100 Award. In 2023, Optica made him an honorary member, said Wyant’s wife, Tammy, point out that “usually only Nobel Prize winners get that.”

measures the smoothness of surfaces such as giant telescope mirrors, hard disk drive heads and magnetic storage tape.

The company “hit the jackpot” when IBM began buying the interferometers to use in its quality-control process, Koch said. Wyant sold the company in 1997 and returned to teaching full-time. He later co-founded 4D Technology Corp. in Tucson. Wyant was also a pro-

lific writer and held several patents. Wyant retired in 2013 and was named professor emeritus, but his active affiliation with education was far from over. The Wyant family has given more than $32 million for UArizona students and faculty, including the highest amount ever pledged for endowed faculty posi-

n he really started giving the big sums of money, he designed it in a way to get other people involved by matching gifts,” Tammy Wyant said. “He was oud of that, that he could get other people involved in the philanthropy. He made a very generous offer, like a fourto-one match or something like that, and let (donors) name it after them-

yant has received honorary doctorates from UArizona, Case, and Rochester University. Along with his contributions, he donated millions of dollars to ters – not for his benefit but

“These three institutions – the trifecta – had an enormous impact on Jim’s life and he had an enormous impact on our

Wyant was an avid hiker and ham radio operator. After ALS robbed him of he ability to speak, he continued making radio contact with people around he globe. “Even when he got ALS, he felt like he was very blessed, had lived a very blessed life,” Tammy Wyant shared. “He always said it was luck and timing that made him a success. Well, we know it wasn’t just luck and timing. It was hard work.”

Wyant is survived by his son Clair. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Louise Wyant.

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