The report encourages local leaders to recognize the area’s role within the Sun Corridor region – which links Tucson and Phoenix and stretches from Mexico to Prescott. This region forms the largest concentration of economic power among eight western states.
Tucson’s New Prosperity: Capitalizing on the Sun Corridor also notes that the aftermath of the global economic crisis and breakdown of Arizona’s growth machine may be an optimal moment for Tucson to plan its future: the metropolitan area should promote its economic ties to Phoenix, but differentiate itself as a more livable city surrounded by preserved open space.
The study recommends three broad areas for action – play to the metropolitan area’s competitive advantages, run the city and county well, and work with other Sun Corridor players. A copy of the report can be downloaded at www.sonoraninstitute.org.
“Tucson has unique competitive advantages in the region,” said Joe Kalt, a globally recognized Harvard economics professor, Sonoran Institute board member and co-author of the report. “Tucson’s natural, outdoor lifestyle positions it to attract highly educated, high-wage workers. But first it must reform its governance structures and develop connectivity within the region in order to realize its economic potential,” he explained.
According to Luther Propst, report co-author and Sonoran Institute executive director, acceptance of the Sun Corridor model helps reconcile the arguments between development and conservation interests in Tucson. “We now see preservation of our desert landscape as a driver of prosperity, not an impediment,” he said.
The study’s lead author Dan Hunting, Sonoran Institute economic and policy analyst, said the report recommends a fundamental change in how we think about metropolitan Tucson. “It contains concrete policy suggestions that can be implemented now.”
The report was funded by the Thomas R. Brown Family Foundation.
The Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. Founded in 1990, the Sonoran Institute is a nonprofit organization that is working to shape the future of the West. For more information, visit www.sonoraninstitute.org.