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SPECIAL REPORT 2018

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORIT Y $7.4 Billion Economic Impact


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PHOTOS: CHRIS MOONEY PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

From left â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Danette Bewley, Tucson Airport Authority VP of Operations/COO; Sarah Meadows, TAA General Counsel; Bonnie Allin, TAA President & CEO; Mike Smejkal, TAA VP of Planning & Engineering, and Dick Gruentzel, TAA VP of Administration & Finance/CFO. 68 BizTucson

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BizLEADERSHIP

ECONOMIC IMPACT OF AIRPORT SOARS

$7.4 Billion for Southern Arizona

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To say things are “flying high” at the Tucson International Airport is more than just a cliché. A recently completed economic impact study for the Tucson Airport Authority revealed that Tucson’s airport – TUS on your luggage tag – along with Ryan Airfield, west of Tucson, and the businesses located on the airports’ campuses have an annual economic impact of $7.4 billion in Southern Arizona. In addition, direct jobs at TAA’s airports have an individual average annual wage of $81,731 including benefits, which is 174 percent of the Pima County household median income of $47,000. “As the region’s major commercial airport, most people know what a valuable asset Tucson International Airport is when it comes to travel to and from Southern Arizona,” said Bonnie Allin, TAA president and CEO. “Yet these numbers are even more impressive because they are so much higher than airports in most communities our size. They are comparable to the Baltimore airport.” Although a study was conducted in 2012 by students at the University of Arizona Eller College of Management, this is the first time the TAA conducted a full-scale study to understand its economic impact. The study was conducted by Elliott D. Pollack & Company, whose client list includes Arizona cities and towns, county governments and a number of departments in state government. “This is a much more robust assessment of the impact a well-run airport can have on an economy,” said Lisa Lovallo, chair of the TAA board and

Southern Arizona market VP for Cox Communications. Approximately 100 tenant companies on the TAA campus were included in the study in addition to the airlines and businesses that support the airport’s operations. Among the others, the most well-known are Raytheon Missile Systems, a maintenance and crew base for SkyWest Airlines (which flies for Delta, United, American, Alaska and other airlines), the Arizona Air National Guard 162nd Wing and Bombardier Aerospace, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial passenger and business jets. Some of the lesser-known businesses included are Ascent Aviation, an aircraft maintenance and overhaul company, and Aerovation, an aeronautical engineering, development and testing company. “To determine impact figures, direct, indirect and induced statistics were gathered,” said Dick Gruentzel, TAA CFO and VP of administration and finance. “Direct impacts are the jobs created specifically at the airport and at the businesses within its complex. Indirect impacts are the number of jobs supported by suppliers to those airport businesses. Induced impacts are defined as the spending of both direct and indirect employees.” Direct operations of TUS, RYN and its tenants created 16,180 jobs with wages and benefits totaling $1.3 billion, resulting in an economic impact of $4.5 billion. Using new research conducted in 2017 of airport tenants and airline travelers, the study revealed not only the economic impact to the region, but continued on page 70 >>> Summer 2018

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COVER PHOTOS: © 2017 KYLE ZIRKUS PHOTOGRAPHY AND COURTESY TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORITY

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

By April Bourie


Tucson Had First Municipal Airport in U.S. By April Bourie This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Tucson Airport Authority, operator of Tucson International Airport. Yet the history of the airport in Tucson dates back nearly a century, to 1919, when it was located where the Tucson Rodeo Grounds are today. “It was the first municipal airport in the United States,” said David Hatfield, TAA senior director of air service development and marketing. “As the planes got bigger the airport got congested and the dirt runway couldn’t handle that.” By 1925 the city wanted to build a larger airport with a hard-surfaced runway to attract the military. Through an act of Congress it acquired 1,280 acres of land that had been removed from homesteading where Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is located today. The city named the airport in honor of two local World War I pilots – Lieutenant Samuel H. Davis and Oscar Monthan – who died in separate plane crashes after the war. But winning military approval took another two years. As is turned out 1927 was momentous, not only marking the arrival of the military, but also famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and Tucson’s first commercial airline service on Standard Airlines, a forerunner of American Airlines. “During World War II, aviation was very important, and the city continued pushing to get the military’s attention. In the 1940s it began acquiring more land south and west of D-M where Tucson International Airport is today,” Hatfield said. “Under the direction of the federal government, hangars for aircraft modifications were built on the new site, along with a runway and other support facilities.” After World War II when the Air Force was formed, the military saw the importance D-M could play in the military’s future and it wanted to be the sole user. At the same time, the thousands of additional acres the city had acquired during the war included improvements the federal government would give away to any municipality that would use them for civil aviation purposes. But city of Tucson leaders balked after an internal budget analysis showed it would lose $120,000 the first two years operating 70 BizTucson

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an airport. That’s when several Chamber of Commerce members came up with the idea of creating a nonprofit civic entity to run the airport under a long-term lease with the city. Being that the runway built during World War II already existed, most of the renovations needed to make it a commercial airport involved converting a hangar to a terminal and other support facilities. On April 12, 1948, TAA was officially formed by state legislation, and on Oct. 14 that same year, the city entered into a leasing obligation with the TAA to operate the airport. The very next day, the airport opened for business. Many of the founding TAA board members were the same Chamber of Commerce members who suggested the idea of the TAA – including Monte Mansfield, owner of Monte Mansfield Motors, Arizona’s first Ford dealership; Matt Baird, owner-operator of Ruby Star Ranch and headmaster of Arizona Desert School (Baird would later be recalled by the U.S. Air Force where he developed the training program that served as the prototype for the Central Intelligence Agency); Leon Levy, founder of Levy’s Department Store; and William A. Small, publisher of the Tucson Daily Citizen newspaper. The city budget analysis was correct in that the airport did lose money those first two years – $23,784 in operating losses on $127,683 in revenue. By the third year, however, the airport began to show an operating profit and was able to reimburse 25 business leaders who had each loaned $1,000 to the TAA to get the airport started. Through the years, the TAA has evolved and stayed true to its mission “to foster aviation and promote economic development” in Southern Arizona, adding Ryan Airfield in 1951 on Ajo Way west of Tucson, and at TUS welcoming additional airlines, bringing in the Arizona Air National Guard in 1958, moving into the jet age in 1959, becoming an official U.S. Customs Port of Entry, opening its new terminal in 1963, and going through the boomand-bust years of airlines since deregulation in 1978.

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PHOTOS: © 2017 KYLE ZIRKUS PHOTOGRAPHY AND COURTESY TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORITY

continued from page 69 also the fiscal impact for local governments. The city of Tucson received $36 million in tax revenues from businesses and employees of TAA, as well as airport tenants and tourist spending. This represents 3.7 percent of the city’s operating expenditures. Pima County received $45.4 million in tax revenues, 3.7 percent of its operating expenditures. Tourism impacts were significant as well. A total of $590 million was spent in the area by visitors arriving at TUS. This tourism spending generated approximately $22.5 million in taxes for the city, more than half of its total tax revenues generated by TAA. Taxes earned for Pima County by visitor spending were approximately $19 million, which is 42 percent of the total county taxes received from TAA’s operations. Spending by these visitors generated an additional 8,774 direct jobs with $241.7 million in wages and benefits. “The impact was staggering,” said Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson president and CEO. “We really believe that a key to the future growth in visitation to Tucson is the growth of the airport. We are proud to partner with the airport to make that happen.” Like most commercial passenger airports in the U.S., TAA receives no local government funding. Operations are funded through revenues from public parking, space rentals and use fees, airline landing fees, concessions and land leases. “The economic impact numbers are powerful,” said Tony Finley, past chair of the TAA board and CFO of Long Realty. “As a CFO, I understand that it’s important to show the numbers – $7.4 billion is a big number – and that helps with economic development.” Yet there is more economic potential. A number of parcels of land within the TAA complex are available for lease and several are “shovel ready” with utilities already connected. It has been an ongoing goal of the TAA to develop the available land, and to that end, it has entered into a new partnership with Sun Corridor Inc., the economic development organization that works to foster business development in Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties. Sun Corridor Inc. is now in charge of promotcontinued on page 72 >>> Summer 2018

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BizLEADERSHIP continued from page 71 ing the vacant land managed by TAA. The airport will be featured prominently when Sun Corridor Inc. promotes land to aerospace/defense and transportation/logistics companies – two of Sun Corridor’s industry focuses. The promotions will occur regionally, nationally and internationally. “This agreement is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of economic development,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. “The idea was hatched on the golf course while I was playing with Lisa (Lovallo). We started discussing how we could work more closely together to develop the available land at the airport. Once we presented our idea to TAA’s leadership, we found it was a natural fit.” “We’ve had an agreement with Sun Corridor Inc. to promote our vacant land since the beginning of their existence,” said Allin. “Our location is perfect for aerospace/defense and transportation/logistics companies. We’re close to Mexico, rail lines, I-10, I-19, and the future I-11. “The Arizona Department of Trans-

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portation recently did a study that showed we are also ideally located for multi-modal transportation companies. In our last airport master plan update, we did our most extensive planning ever for what we wanted in those vacant areas. We are ready to step up our marketing, and Sun Corridor Inc. has the contacts we need to do so.” “I would categorize it as an evolution of our partnership that creates a force multiplier for us,” Lovallo said. “Sun

It really requires good collaboration to run a successful airport that has a broader impact on the community.

– Lisa Lovallo, Chair Tucson Airport Authority Board of Directors

Corridor has a greater reach than what we could do on our own, and their focus on aerospace and logistics fits nicely into our portfolio. This agreement will put the airport front and center as the economic engine that it is, and it will bring to the airport some new contacts to develop our airport and aerospace corridor.” The success of the airport comes from its strong board and its relationships within the Tucson community, Lovallo said. “The Tucson Airport Authority board has always advocated for our economic development, the Tucson community and the airport,” she said. “Our partnership with Sun Corridor, the county and the business community is very valuable to us. It really requires good collaboration to run a successful airport that has a broader impact on the community.” The strength of the airport and its tenants is apparent, Finley said, “Air service is up and the recent renovations that were completed at the airport make us a world-class airport without lines,” he said.

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

BizTRAVEL

From left - Tucson Airport Authority Police Captain Scott Bader, Officer Daniel Mesa and Sergeant Tony Hansen, with K9 Ficko.

Public Safety Is Top Priority By April Bourie Public safety officers at the Tucson Airport Authority have had some strange calls – such as someone picking up their friend at the airport on horseback. Yet most of the Tucson airport’s police and fire department calls are what other typical public safety departments would handle – medical calls, structure fires, car accidents and theft. 74 BizTucson

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“The difference is that we mainly are dealing with nice people who are stressed while traveling,” said TAA police Captain Scott Bader. “We are respected both by the travelers and the businesses that operate at the airport. It’s a very positive place to be a police officer.” Another benefit of being on either

the police or fire departments at the airport is that both work very closely together. “There is no tension between the two departments, which is not always common in other locations,” said John Ivanoff, TAA chief of public safety, who oversees both departments. “Our bigcontinued on page 76 >>> www.BizTucson.com


PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

From left â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Tucson Airport Authority Firefighter Paul Bedell, Firefighter Christopher Figueroa, Firefighter Harold Stocker, Captain Bill Swecker and Firefighter Matthew Robey. www.BizTucson.com

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We are constantly training so that we know how to handle any situation that occurs at the airport.

– John Ivanoff Chief of Public Safety Tucson Airport Authority

continued from page 74 gest challenge is preparing for something that doesn’t happen very often. There are not a lot of case studies to follow for aviation accidents because flying is usually so safe.” In addition, the departments must be prepared to handle issues with a variety of aircraft – helicopters, large commercial planes and private planes – and to interact with many federal organizations such as the U.S. Marshals Service, the Secret Service, and the FBI. “Flights coming in and out of Tucson affect other flights traveling all over the world, and security is our top priority,” he said. Both departments have been recognized for being innovative. The “Stop the Bleed” campaign provides access to trauma kits in public areas and encourages bystanders to use them to stop blood loss when an accident occurs near them. “The airport was one of the first locations to install these kits in their public spaces,” said TAA Fire Chief Tom Tucker. “The fire department has trained every airport employee on how to use them and also partners with UA Surgery at Banner University Medical Center to spread the word about the campaign throughout the community through the Southern Arizona Stop the Bleed Coalition.” Recently, the fire department presented the campaign at a national conference of airport fire departments. The Hollywood Burbank Airport Fire Department also visited the Tucson airport this year to learn more about the program. The TAA police department this year was recognized for Public Health Excellence in Law Enforcement by the Arizona Department of Health Services for initiating an opioid-overdose program that teaches all officers how to use NARCAN®, which counteracts the life-threatening effects of interactions with opioids. The drug prevents officers from going into cardiac arrest if they accidentally get the opioid on their skin when treating opioid overdose victims. The airport’s police department is one of only 12 departments in the state and the second in Pima County to operate this type of program. “As you can tell by what we’re doing with these initiatives, our interest is really to protect the public and the employees who are here,” said Ivanoff. “We are constantly training so that we know how to handle any situation that occurs at the airport.”

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FLY TUCSON

Phoenix Not Usually Efficient Use of Time, Money By April Bourie It’s not a secret that many Tucson residents are prone to take flights from the Phoenix airport rather than the Tucson airport because they think it’s cheaper or faster. However, the Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) says people who do that are short-changing themselves by not valuing their own time and stress it takes to drive two hours to the airport and two hours back, plus the extra cost of parking and gas. The difference in airfare can often disappear – especially if an overnight stay in Phoenix is necessary to catch an early morning flight. Several business entities in Tucson are working to encourage their members to fly out of Tucson. Both the Tucson Metro Chamber and Visit Tucson encourage their member businesses to do so. The Chamber also is supporting the TAA’s air service development efforts with a “Fly Tucson First” campaign, which can be seen on billboards and in other areas around town. In addition, the TAA is doing more online marketing to encourage Tucson residents looking to fly out of Phoenix to book Tucson instead. Chamber members behind the effort also point out there is a direct correlation between the vitality of an airport and the economy of the region it serves. A robust airport can attract added service from airlines and more flights means better access for commerce. Tucsonans who fly out of the Phoenix airport are helping to support the Phoenix economy, they said. And just to put a number on it, Tucson International Airport’s website has a cost calculator that will factor all of the additional costs for passengers flying from Phoenix to determine if the “cheaper” airline ticket out of Phoenix will actually save them money. (www. flytucson.com/flights/compare/) Dick Gruentzel, TAA CFO and VP of administration, also tries to dispel 78 BizTucson

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one of the other reasons people fly out of Phoenix rather than Tucson – because they want a direct flight that doesn’t require a layover. “I would argue that you are still making a connection,” Gruentzel said. “It’s just that you’re driving to your first connection rather than flying. Travel can be exhausting, and that two-hour drive coming home is difficult.” Still, if Tucson had more flights, more people would fly out of Tucson. So what determines which cities airlines fly to? “The simple answer to that is the demand for flights to certain destinations,” said Gruentzel. “About onethird of Tucson residents who fly begin in Phoenix rather than Tucson. If we could capture that traffic, we could easily add many more nonstop flights.” “The airlines track both where people live and which airports they fly in and out of,” said David Hatfield, TAA

Nonstop Destinations Seven airlines fly nonstop from Tucson International Airport to 20 destination airports: • Austin

• Las Vegas

• Atlanta

• Los Angeles

• Charlotte

• Minneapolis/ St. Paul resumes Nov. 17

• Chicago Midway • Chicago O’Hare • Dallas/ Fort Worth • Denver • Houston/ Hobby: seasonal • Houston Intercontinental

• Oakland resumes Oct. 7 • Phoenix • Portland resumes Nov. 2 • Salt Lake City • San Diego • San Jose • San Francisco • Seattle/Tacoma

senior director of air service development and marketing. “We work with an air service consultant who is an expert at figuring out passenger and airline data to help us present our case to airlines when proposing a new route.” In addition to route demand, the proposed destination also must fit with the airline’s business model, size of aircraft and the location of their hubs. Even if it doesn’t exactly fit their business strategy, an airline often will consider a new route if incentives are offered by the airport and its partners. “They want to know that there is a commitment from the community to making the route successful,” Hatfield said. “Visit Tucson is our No. 1 partner when making a proposal for a new route,” said Bonnie Allin, TAA president and CEO. “They dedicate marketing funds in the destinations we are proposing new flights to – and they can also provide information on upcoming conferences and tourist travel that would positively affect sales on the route.” “We really appreciate the Tucson Airport Authority including us in their conversations with the airlines about potential new routes,” said Brent DeRaad, Visit Tucson’s president and CEO. “What we bring to the table is the ability to market the destination to the airline and market Tucson to the destination that airline is flying to. Recently, we did promotions in Portland, San Jose, Minneapolis and Austin – and the results of those campaigns have helped us drive traffic to Tucson.” In the future, the main route priorities for the Tucson airport are New York City and Washington, D.C. In addition, routes to Mexico and Canada are high on the list, along with adding back routes that have been successful in the past – including Albuquerque, Sacramento and an additional airport in Southern California.

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$47 MILLION RENOVATION

More Improvements Planned By April Bourie Started in June 2016, the $28 million Terminal Optimization Project at Tucson International Airport touched every aspect of the terminal and was just one piece of the overall $47 million construction program under the banner, “A Brighter TUS.” “I fly out of the airport rather frequently, and I have really been enjoying the changes due to the terminal renovations,” said Kathe Dollish, a Tucson resident whose husband is retired from American Airlines. “I love that they have maintained the efficiency and small feel of the airport, but have increased that ‘Tucson feel’ in their artwork, look and furnishings.” Essentially completed in December 2017, the $28-million portion of the project introduced a new color scheme throughout that includes desert colors, new security checkpoints and shaded parking under solar panels. “The theme is very ‘Arizona’ with muted browns, golds and purples,” said Danette Bewley, TAA COO and VP of operations. “Over the last two years we’ve also been working on a landscape beautification project outside the terminal that includes a variety of rocks and drought-tolerant plants. These projects really develop a sense of place.” One of the most noticeable changes is the relocation of the security checkpoints, which have been moved to each end of the terminal where unneeded ticket counter space was previously located. “With the increase of online checkins and the consolidation of airlines, we didn’t need as much ticket counter space,” said Mike Smejkal, TAA VP of planning and engineering. “Moving the security checkpoints provided more room for the checkpoints and freed up space in the terminal for additional concessions beyond the security checkpoint.” That’s important, Smejkal said, because today’s travelers want to get through security before shopping or dining. Additional concessions give 80 BizTucson

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them more options and also generate revenue for the airport, which allows it to be self-sustaining as it does not rely on any local tax dollars. Covered parking in the daily and hourly lots at the terminal is another noticeable change. The photovoltaic shade structure with 129 solar panels saves the airport on average about $35,000 per month in electric bills. Some changes that aren’t as noticeable but are important for the functionality of the airport include upgraded sewers, electrical systems, computers and information technology. The CCTV security camera system also was improved through a $4.7 million grant from the Transportation Security Administration.

Our focus with all of these projects is to be able to provide for our needs and our travelers’ needs now and 20 years from now.

– Danette Bewley COO and VP of Operations Tucson Airport Authority

Although the Terminal Optimization Project is finished and “A Brighter TUS” is nearly complete, more – and bigger – changes are coming to the airport. An Airfield Safety Enhancement Program will improve the safety of the airfield, which includes the runways and taxiways. The project is the largest in the airport’s history at an estimated cost of $180 million, mostly funded by the Federal Aviation Administration

through the Airport Improvement Program, a federal grant program. The project involves relocating, widening and lengthening the parallel runway to match the main runway. Since it is made of concrete, it is expected to last approximately 50 years. Changes also will be made to taxiways between the two runways to improve their safety. Design should begin this fall and construction is expected to be completed in four to five years, depending on the federal funding grants. Another important project on the horizon is the addition of a plaza that will provide space for the various modes of transportation travelers use to get to the airport. “Many people are now being dropped off by Uber and Lyft in addition to the bus or taxi, and we also want to be prepared for any type of smart transportation that might be used in the future,” Smejkal said. TAA is conducting a study of the various transportation options and their passengers’ needs. “We’re early in the development stage, so we aren’t exactly sure what will be included, but in addition to drop off space, they might provide concessions and/or gas stations for drivers and those returning rental cars,” he said. An update to the master plan for Ryan Airfield also is being reviewed. “We have a lot of frontage along Ajo Way where we could do some commercial, industrial and/or retail projects,” Bewley said. “The area is underserved in these businesses, so we want to plan appropriate options there.” In addition, the infrastructure at Ryan needs to be renovated including a new sewer system and upgrading a nearby dike. Once the work on the dike is completed, the airfield will be removed from the 100-year flood plain. “Our focus with all of these projects is to be able to accommodate our infrastructure needs and meet our travelers’ needs now and 20 years from now,” Bewley said.

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PHOTO: COURTESY TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORITY

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

From left â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Danette Bewley, Tucson Airport Authority VP of Operations/COO, and Mike Smejkal, TAA VP of Projects & Engineering.

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AIRPORT SHOWCASES LOCAL RETAIL

Travelers, Residents Like the Mix

PHOTO: COURTESY TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORITY

By Valerie Vinyard You might have noticed – and rightly so – that you have a few more places to pick up a souvenir or essential item at Tucson International Airport. In March 2017, Hudson Group arrived to tweak and renovate the 8,329 square feet of retail space at TUS. Besides the existing stores, Hudson added seven kiosks to showcase more local offerings. Founded in 1987, the East Rutherford, New Jersey-based Hudson Group is North America’s largest airport retail operator with 1,000 locations in 88 airports in the United States and Canada. Jeff Martin, regional VP of operations for the Hudson Group, said he immediately noticed something about TUS. “Tucson is very locally driven and amazingly so,” said Martin, who noted that airports usually have a 50-50 split between national and local brands. “We knew that, but not to the extent that it is.” The local culture is so strong here, Martin said, that the airport’s bestselling book is called “Jump!” by local author Guy Porfirio. It’s about a “clever cactus with a sense of adventure,” according to the book’s opening page. “There’s a lot of pride in the comwww.BizTucson.com

munity,” Martin said. “The more local we can do, the more successful we are.” Martin said the fact that Hudson kept all of the retail employees in a changeover from the previous operator has helped make the transition seamless. “We don’t try to re-create the business,” he said. “The people that are local, they know more than I ever could. They teach us the Tucson culture.” Martin said his team learned early on that anything related to the University of Arizona – sweatshirts, higher-end clothing, shot glasses, keychains, pillows, mugs, blankets, souvenir basketballs and footballs – is going to sell. “It’s a bigger piece of our business, over 10 percent of our sales than anywhere else,” he said. Many of those products are found in the Arizona Sport Zone, which is inside the Fort Lowell by Hudson store. The kiosks include Mast, which is a mini version of its downtown location that sells locally designed and crafted jewelry and leather goods. There’s also See’s Candies and the Western-themed Spirit, which sells Native American jewelry. Travel convenience store Arroyo Trading Post, which is on the ticketing level, includes products from Tucson’s

Agustin Kitchen Express. In February, the store reached No. 4 on USA Today’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Top 10 list of Best Travel Convenience Stores. Kristen Clonan, VP of corporate communications for Hudson, said Hudson unveiled its bookstore concept Ink by Hudson in 2012 and put one in the B Concourse at TUS in June 2017. Ink by Hudson has partnered with Tucson Festival of Books and the store always has a featured table with books by festival authors. “Every airport has a unique culture,” Clonan said. “The moment we started working with TUS, there was a certain charm.” To promote a sense of calm in all of its stores, Hudson studied customer behavior, established a natural walking path through the store and used color coding to label its sections, such as yellow for media and green for sandwiches and healthy foods. “If you go into a store and it’s not organized well, you get anxiety,” Clonan said. “That creates a lot of turmoil for customers.” “We pride ourselves on being the customers’ best friend,” she said. “We’re listening all the time and as we listen, we adapt.” Biz Summer 2018

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‘ART IN THE AIRPORT’

A Place for Local Artists & Musicians In 1987, the Tucson Airport Authority made a commitment to acquire and display art created by artists living in its airports’ service trade area – which includes Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties and northern Sonora. Today, more than 100 original works of art are included in TAA’s permanent collection. Well-known local and regional artists’ work in the permanent exhibit include tilework by Susan Gamble, glasswork by Tom Philabaum, and photographs by rodeo photographer Louise Serpa. These and other pieces of the collection can be found throughout the terminal at Tucson International Airport. Larger sculptures also have been placed outside to welcome travelers. With this year’s terminal expansion, art walls were added at security checkpoints, in the baggage claim area and at restroom entrances. “The best part about the airport’s arts and culture program is that it’s made up of artists living in Tucson and our local region,” said Viki Matthews, TAA community relations administrator who oversees the Arts and Culture Program. “Finding art for our exhibits is not difficult because Southern Arizona is home to some of the finest artists in the country.”

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In addition to the permanent collection, temporary art displays were incorporated in 1991. Today, the program boasts five galleries where displays are rotated throughout the year. The Lower Link and Upper Link Galleries are located on the baggage claim and ticketing levels, respectively, on the way to the rental car facility. The International Arrivals Gallery, is

The best part about the airport’s arts and culture program is that it’s made up of artists living in Tucson and our local region.

– Viki Matthews Community Relations Administrator Tucson Airport Authority

located on the ticketing level near Concourse A, and the Center Gallery is on the ticketing level between the Southwest and Delta ticket counters. The Artport Gallery is located near the exit

of Concourse B. Art in these galleries include photography, paintings, recycled art and creations by nonprofit organizations and educational institutions like Pima Community College. Current information on the exhibits is available on the airport’s website, flyTucson.com, for visitors and travelers who have time to explore the various pieces. You can also find a printable guide called, Art in the Airport, online at https://s20532.pcdn.co/files/2015Art-in-the-Airport-Brochure.pdf. Live performances were added to the airport’s Arts and Culture Program in 2007. Called Live@TUS!, performances provide a cultural experience for the traveling public, meeters, greeters and employees at the airport. “Performing at the airport is not exactly like the typical performance a musician has around town,” Matthews said. “The audience might only have a couple of minutes to enjoy the music as they are passing through on their way home or on their way into town for a leisure or business trip. We have a couple of regular performers who are dedicated to coming out to entertain our passengers each week. The idea is not to overwhelm airport visitors, but to greet them with a smile and a pleasant familiar sound.”

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PHOTOS: © 2017 KYLE ZIRKUS PHOTOGRAPHY

By April Bourie


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FOOD FLIGHTS

80 Percent of Airport Food Venues Are Local Nowadays, you might want to visit the airport just to enjoy a bite to eat rather than catch a flight to go see Grandma. Tucson International Airport, or TUS, now commands a place at the adults’ table when it comes to restaurants.  A bounty of diverse food offerings is available at Tucson’s airport, rivaling other airports when it comes to an emphasis on local cuisine. Sure, there’s a planned Dunkin Donuts, but major chains are in the minority. Eighty percent of the food venues are from Tucson. A total of 10 food venues are scattered throughout the A and B concourses. Two other options, local purveyor Arbuckles’ Coffee and Noble Hops gastropub, are positioned before security checkpoints so the public can visit. Plus, Noble Hops will validate up to two hours of parking with a mini86 BizTucson

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mum $15 purchase. Roger Schwandtner handles business development for Creative Food Group, which oversees the culinary programs at seven airports nationwide, including TUS. He said that Noble Hops’ outdoor patio is unlike any other venue at an airport in the country. “It’s right smack in the center of the airport,” he said. “No other airport has anything like that. You have the mountain range. It’s a beautiful view.” Built Custom Burger recently opened. Two more venues – Thunder Canyon Brewstillery, and an airport version of the Maverick, the iconic night club on Tanque Verde Road, won’t open until summer. But business from the other eateries already has jumped over previous years. Even with all locations under construction throughout the year and some places not open, business was only slightly down from the previous year when all restaurants were open

and operating, according to Barbara Hempel, director of properties for Tucson Airport Authority which operates the airport. Though Creative Food Group is based in Jersey City, New Jersey, Schwandtner and his team continue to frequent TUS because the more than 150 employees that work at the restaurants are employed by them. He sees great things ahead for Tucson’s airport. “This is by far – for the size – the best food and beverage program in the country,” Schwandtner said. “I think we partnered up with some great local brands.” Tucson International Airport is considered small even though more than 3.4 million people visited TUS in 2017, according to TAA. Food and beverage venues eat up 15,287 square feet of space at TUS, while retail encompasses continued on page 88 >>> www.BizTucson.com

PHOTO: COURTESY TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORITY

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together the new concepts. After the request for proposals came in, it was down to two companies. TAA chose Creative Food Group. Schwandtner believes he and his team have created a great mix of eateries in TUS. “These are brands that people recognize,” he said. “I think it was a perfect blend of national and local brands. Overall, it’s one of the best programs in the country.” Creative makes up for its smaller size in important ways, he said. “We’re a relatively small company in this industry,” Schwandtner said. “All the big boys are hundreds-of-millionsof-dollars corporations. “When you get that size, you start to ignore the small airports,” he said. “TUS looked like it had been an airport that had been ignored for five years. We can pay attention to things that some of the larger companies forget about.” Since they’ve opened, Hempel has heard back from some of the restaurant owners. “They say, ‘I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do this, but man, I’m glad I did,’ ” she said. One restaurateur who’s thrilled to be working with Creative is Ray Flores, president of Flores Concepts, who oversees El Charro and Sir Veza’s locations. El Charro has had a presence at TUS in the past. “There’s a lot more intelligent local inclusion – including everything from the local contractors, local architects, Shamrock Foods and local craft beer,” Flores said of Creative. “We really focused on all of that.”

Sir Veza’s opened last October on Concourse A and El Charro opened in March in Concourse B. They are among the most popular restaurants at the airport. “There’s something I like about every one of them,” Schwandtner said. “Empire, it’s the best pizza outside of New York with great portions and a good price. The Flores family – they’re iconic. Bruegger’s – they’re boiling and baking bagels on premise. It’s an overall taste of Tucson.” Thunder Canyon Brewstillery, which is slated to open the end of July or early August, plans to distill its own rum and perhaps vodka. The 638-square-foot Maverick will have low walls and will be open to the entire concourse. A stage that will feature local music acts will be visible from the gate area. Schwandtner said the restaurant-topassenger ratio generally runs one restaurant for every 150,000 to 200,000 passengers. With TUS having about 3.4 million passengers flying in and out of the airport every year, it’s a little flush in terms of the number of eateries. Though the cost of operating in an airport is much higher, Tucson adheres to a zero street-pricing strategy, meaning the foods you purchase at the airport are the same price as if you ordered them at the city location. Many airports offer street pricing plus 10 percent or higher. “They’re allowing the local side to be the strong side,” Flores said. “Twenty years ago, it was more chain-like and a lot more corporate. It’s really a part of Tucson now.” Biz www.BizTucson.com

PHOTOS: BRENT G. MATHIS AND COURTESY TUCSON AIRPORT AUTHORITY

continued from page 86 8,329 square feet – yet the total space is a fraction of the airport’s overall 414,880 square feet. Because of these food options, diners can chart their courses, if you will, before they even set off on a flight path. They might first enjoy a craft beer at Noble Hops before they check in. They could follow that with a Sonoran hot dog at Sir Veza’s Taco Garage or a sandwich at Beyond Bread, get the kids a slice of pizza at Empire Pizza, and finish with a beer at Thunder Canyon Brewstillery or while listening to country music at the Maverick. Hempel works in offices on the top floor of the airport and she eats at the airport’s dining venues five times a week. “The favorite part of my day is when I want to go to lunch and I have to walk around to find a restaurant that has tables open – and I can’t,” said Hempel, who was hard-pressed to pick a favorite venue. “It’s exciting for me to see the passengers so excited for all of the food options.” It didn’t used to be this way. The former airport restaurant offerings were mostly composed of grab-and-go venues and offered less variety in dining options and an unnamed bar. To get to this point, Hempel was part of a team that looked for great local food options. Her team went into the community and approached local restaurants, gauging their interest. TAA also advertised for interested retailers and restaurants to throw in their names for consideration. Before all of that came to fruition, TAA had to choose a purveyor to bring


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