A few of you may have heard of PAG… if not, it is Pima Association of Governments, our region’s metropolitan planning organization. It’s an entity you should learn more about. Millions of state and federal dollars flow through PAG and fund short- and long-range transportation projects throughout Pima County. In addition, PAG manages the Regional Transportation Authority. We approved the RTA plan and a ½ cent sales tax over 9years ago to generate local dollars to meet growing transportation infrastructure demands as well as to have more local control of placing the dollars where they are most needed.
This regional organization is an untapped asset in our community. It is the only organization where every jurisdiction and the tribes are engaged and have an equal seat at the table. Decisions are made by consensus impacting the entire region. The chief elected officials of Pima County, the Cities of Tucson and South Tucson, the Towns of Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuarita, as well as the Pascua Yaqui and Tohono O’odham tribes serve as the Regional Council. Our community has debated regional government for decades, yet this entity has existed since 1970 and is a launch pad for collaboration.
Recent PAG activities with regional economic impact include:
January 2015: PAG Regional Council approved a resolution supporting the addition of the Sonoran Corridor to the state highway system.June 2014: PAG leaders continue to participate in the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (TTCA) Steering Committee, which completed the TTCA Roadmap strategic planning document.January 2014: The Regional Council approved a resolution recognizing the importance of the Interstate 11 and Intermountain West Corridor and supported further study.Ongoing: Coordination with local, regional and state bi-national partners in promoting the Building an International Economic Network (BIEN) website for businesses in Arizona, Mexico and Canada.Ongoing: The Regional Transportation Authority plan, approved by voters, in May 2006, has contributed hundreds of jobs and economic redevelopment impact, most recently with the 2014 launch of the Sun Link streetcar.
About a year ago, I was asked to chair a newly formed committee within PAG–the Economic Vitality Advisory Committee (EVAC). The EVAC provides a unique platform to create stronger regional collaboration, as it brings together representatives of leading organizations from the public, private, educational and nonprofit sectors to work together toward shared interests. The purpose of the committee is to explore various topics of regional significance that affect the community’s economic vitality, such as land use, tourism and trade, as well as align the region’s transportation planning efforts with economic development opportunities.
Recently, our committee hosted a half day work session to focus on a collaborative effort to improve the economy of the region. The work session was attended by county, city, town, tribaland business leaders, and was designed to fully engage EVAC members in a deliberative process to develop consensus around the most important opportunities and challenges that impact economic vitality in southern Arizona.
The work session resulted in consensus that economic diversification is the ultimate goal of all of the opportunities, challenges and priorities that were discussed. It was evident to all of us in attendance that economic vitality and the ultimate goal of economic diversification can be achieved through trusting, collaborative partnerships between and among our organizations, a shared vision for the region; the political will to commit to purposeful and focused action; clearly defined roles and leveraging of resources, and the internal capacity and infrastructure to support the realization of this goal.
During the work session, we brainstormed and determined the following four priorities to enhance economic vitality in our region.
Economic Diversification: the overarching goal of economic vitality efforts.Infrastructure – Transport/Utilities: paramount to achieving economic diversification and vitality.Mexico Trade/Commerce: a unique competitive advantage for southern Arizona (and the State of Arizona) that needs to be fully maximized; a significant factor in the achievement of a more diverse, globally competitive economy.Workforce Enhancement: a globally competitive, talented workforce and superior P-20 educational institutions to educate and prepare this workforce are paramount to the region’s future.We debated what we believe are southern Arizona’s economic vitality priorities, important actions needed and impediments to achieving these priorities. Just as important, we discussed what PAG’s role should be in this effort. Would PAG be the Convener? The Coordinator?
Our region clearly needs a regional strategy that integrates, incorporates and synthesizes each of our individual organizations’/communities’ plans and efforts. Many of the committee members quickly came to the realization that PAG as it is designed, including its role as Council of Governments, could lead this effort.
The role of the EVAC was strongly supported and will continue to develop. Though many of our business organizations focus on economic development, PAG provides the only venue for the business community to work collaboratively with all jurisdictions in the County. Where do we go from here? Following the work session, the EVACestablished two distinct workgroups. One focusing on Transportation Infrastructure and the other on Trade with Mexico. In both cases, the EVAC’s role shall be to convene and help focus on regional priorities, efforts, initiatives, and to coordinate the efforts of our organizations and jurisdictions.
Take a moment to learn more about the Pima Association of Governments at www.PAGregion.com. Economic Vitality Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public with the next meeting on Sept. 9. Our effort regionally can be coordinated with our state’s efforts to boost Arizona’s economy. Let’s focus on building the economic vitality of our region by collaborating and sharing our priorities.
Lea Marquez Peterson is President/CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and its affiliate chambers in Nogales, Douglas and Sierra Vista. In addition, she serves as the Chair of the Economic Vitality Committee for Pima Association of Governments. She can be reached at email@example.com.
By Julio Espinoza, International Trade Specialist at the Tucson Hispanic Chamber
“It is time to talk to Mexico and stop talking about Mexico.” That was probably the most
remarkable comment of David Farca, the new President of the Arizona Mexico Commission,
during the reception hosted by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to introduce him to the community of Southern Arizona on June 2nd at Casino del Sol. The reception was a good opportunity to restate Governor Ducey’s international relations strategy and send Mexico a strong message of collaboration, trust and cooperation.
Mexico is not only one of the most important political allies and trading partners of the
U.S., but also Arizona’s most important economic partner with a trade exchange of USD 14
billion per year. Arizona and Sonora have geographic proximity and share generations of history.
It is vital for our State leaders to raise the international stature of our state by reaching out to our neighbor and other important global players. Governor Ducey understands the significance of implementing a strong international relations campaign that repositions Arizona on the world map. The current developments in the Ducey Administration validate that Arizona is not only open for business but also open to the world and ready to revamp relations with Mexico. During the last five months, the Ducey Administration has been introducing significant initiatives.
First, last February Governor Ducey appointed Juan Ciscomani, former Vice President of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as Director of the Arizona’s Governor’s office in
Southern Arizona. The appointment perfectly suited the State’s interest in growing relations with Mexico as Juan is bilingual and familiar with the political, social and economic factors related to growing business relations with Mexico. He was raised in Sonora but moved to Tucson with his family at the age of 11. He values the strong relationships built over decades between Southern Arizona and Sonora, and will work to establish relationships between our new Governor and leaders in Mexico.
Secondly, Governor Ducey appointed David Farca, a successful entrepreneur and Mexico
City native as the President of the Arizona Mexico Commission.“In this increasingly competitive
global economy, it’s critical that we continue to strengthen Arizona’s partnership with our largest trade partner, and to capitalize on opportunities that make both Arizona and Mexico more globally competitive [and] David will be key to this effort,” said Governor Ducey. David Farca represents the new generation of Mexican immigrants that not only have achieved the American Dream throughout hard work but also embrace U.S. principles and serve as a bridge between our country and their home country.
Thirdly, last May, Govenor Ducey created a business leadership group called Arizona Zanjeros. The Zanjero was once the most powerful man in any community along the Colorado River Basin, entrusted with overseeing its most valuable resource: water. Governor Ducey created a group of active and diverse CEO’s and business leaders from across the state co-chaired by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Lea Marquez Peterson, and the Arizona Cardinals President, Michael Bidwill. The objective of the group is to promote the international image of Arizona while working closely with the state's economic development partners to bring foreign direct investment and joint ventures for business leaders that want to live and do business in Arizona.
Lastly, to show his commitment to international trade, Governor Ducey will travel to Mexico City with a delegation on June 17th to send a clear message that Arizona is open to business and ready to revamp the binational relationship, which suffered a backlash after the enactment of the controversial SB-1070 in 2010. Governor Ducey will meet with high ranking elected officials and the most important CEO’s of Mexico in a trade mission trip that acknowledges the strategic importance of our neighbor to the south, a country whose nationals spend an average of USD 7.3 million per day in Arizona. He and his delegation will meet with the Arizona Mexico office which opened in late 2014 also.
Mexico stands as the 12th largest economy of the world. It is a country that in thirty five years will become the second largest economy in the Western Hemisphere, just after the U.S. and whose middle class today represents 44 million people (about the total population of Canada). The Tucson Hispanic Chamber and its affiliate chambers in Sierra Vista, Nogales and Douglas will continue its work to grow business relations with Mexico. Our 1100 member businesses applaud the Governor’s leadership in engaging the public and private sectors of Arizona to work together to collaborate to provide economic prosperity to our region.
Recently, our Tucson Hispanic Chamber launched affiliate chambers in Sierra Vista and Nogales. In the near future, we will be launching our Douglas Hispanic Chamber also. Our regional expansion is a great benefit to the more than 1100 members of our chamber as it allows them to build connections throughout Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties. For the past several years, we’ve been expanding our presence in Northern Mexico by hosting trade mission trips and events in Sonora. Our expansion throughout Southern Arizona continues our emphasis on building awareness of the economic interdependence of the Southern Arizona – Sonora region.
Why is our chamber expanding? There are many resources and programs that our chamber provides to our members that can help businesses throughout the region. Over a year ago, we started exploring and researching this strategic expansion. Tucson businesses told us they needed assistance in reaching consumers and potential suppliers in Sierra Vista, Nogales and Douglas. We surveyed our members and identified many who have offices, branches and employees in the rural markets. Similarly, businesses in Sierra Vista, Nogales and Douglas told us they were interested in reaching consumers and potential suppliers in Tucson and in diversifying their businesses. With the threat of sequestration and the slow recovery from the economic recession, businesses are looking for new opportunities. Many had heard of our chamber’s leadership in assisting businesses in exporting to Mexico, our work in advocating on behalf the economic impact of the Hispanic market in Arizona and trade with Mexico and our procurement and certification programs. Positive feedback and the support of our Board of Directors prompted us to launch our affiliate chambers in late 2014 and begin offering our Beyond Startup: Elevate Your Business program in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz Counties. The program provides no-cost business consulting and business education courses throughout the region in English and Spanish.
As we have expanded, we have reached out to the local chambers in each market to collaborate and co-host events. We have hired two key employees to serve our new markets and produce events and educational workshops to serve the business communities. Our Cochise County Coordinator, Alexandra Boneo lives in Douglas and is focused on assisting businesses in the County as well as in nearby Sonoran cities. She is building a Sierra Vista and a Douglas Advisory Council and is planning events that will be held quarterly in Cochise County.
Haidee Joy is our Santa Cruz County Coordinator. She comes to the chamber with many years of experience working with businesses along the border and specifically with the Maquiladora (Manufacturing) industry. She is excited about hosting frequent events in Nogales and engaging with the community on both sides of the border.
It is our opinion that the more our chamber can do in the community supporting and advocating on behalf of our entire Southern Arizona region, the stronger our voice will be. It has been important for us to understand that each community has unique characteristics and challenges. Our chamber has been meeting with the Mayors and other elected officials as well as business leaders in each community to discuss opportunities and challenges. There are a number of issues that we can collaborate on together to benefit the entire region. Our chamber plans to communicate with businesses in each City and County and create bridges between the communities of Southern Arizona.
The Tucson Hispanic Chamber and our affiliate chambers in Nogales, Sierra Vista and Douglas are currently working on several initiatives focused on:
the attraction of business to the region,supporting and growing our existing businesses in the region,increasing high-quality education opportunities in low income areas,and disparities in health between the Hispanic and general community.These issues and others will be the topics of conversations we will be hosting throughout the region. To learn more, visit TucsonHispanicchamber.org. You can also find each of our chambers on Facebook and on Twitter. We are encouraging businesses throughout Southern Arizona to join one of our chambers and are offering one membership price for membership in all four Chambers of Commerce. In addition, as an extra benefit, membership also includes an affiliate membership in the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We hope you will join us and consider expanding your business presence throughout the region!
Welcome to the Tucson Hispanic Chamber Blog Page.
Our goal is to help member companies grow and prosper. We work to achieve this goal by advocating a pro-business agenda in Tucson and connecting members with business leaders and policy makers. How? With Networking & educational events, and online initiatives — like this blog.