Tucson Ready for Business – Project Prosperity Task Force Reports

TUCSON, Arizona — With increased economic optimism, the City of Tucson announced Thursday the results of an 18-month task force termed “Project Prosperity” designed to boost economic vitality.

The Task Force was formed by a coalition of local business organizations – Tucson Metro Chamber, Metropolitan Pima Alliance (MPA), and Southern Arizona Home Builders Association (SAHBA) along with Mayor Rothschild and City Manager Michael Ortega, spoke about the changes and improvements in City processes and systems all designed to help spur economic activity.

The Task Force focused on seven issues responding to the question, ‘What can we do to grow and expand business in Tucson?’. After compiling a long wish list, the task force then began the slow and arduous process of sitting down with business executives and City leaders to discuss solutions. The task force differed from other economic development efforts as it didn’t focus solely on new development and considered existing systems and processes for small business’ interactions with the City.

The business executives used their own experiences and the views expressed by other businesses to compile a list of seven “action steps” they believed worthy of discussion with the City of Tucson, as follows:

  1. Create more incentives for infill development, including possible infill districts;
  2. Improvements to the building permitting and inspection process;
  3. Quantifying business opportunities (job creation) prior to any required vote by Mayor and Council;
  4. Review and streamline the business license application process;
  5. Modernize the current City of Tucson sign code;
  6. Review recent changes to the City of Tucson charter;
  7. Present business operations and challenges to public representatives.

There were several efforts underway already, City Manager, Michael Ortega explained, including combining two departments under the one umbrella of Planning and Development Services and expanding the ombudsman program. The City is also working on a common software solution with Pima County for reading building plans and improvement to the process to facilitate development projects.

“Building our city’s economic base requires cooperation and collaboration between government and businesses, with input from the community,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “The City of Tucson is working with many partners to make that happen.”

Government’s role in economic development is to create good infrastructure, facilitate and support private sector partnerships and facilitate economic opportunities. Local government can assist entrepreneurs, employers, industry and small business by connecting them to resources that are available. Local governments are also responsible for creating a regulatory scheme that reflects their constituent’s needs and desires and serve the community in a way to promote a sustainable and prosperous economy and quality of life.

This progress in public-private interaction will add momentum to a local economy that is already experiencing significant improvement. The Project Prosperity process has been an excellent example of heightened cooperation between business and local government and is to be continued at the discretion of the Tucson Metro Chamber and other business organizations involved.