By the BF Staff
From the March/April 2022 Issue
Officials across Arizona are serious about enhancing the pro-business environment in the state. With a population of nearly 7.2 million people, the Grand Canyon State is now the 14th largest in population in the country.
More importantly, Arizona is most definitely on the cutting edge of technology, playing off its close location to California, budding educational system and lower costs than some of its neighbors.
The result has been a dramatic increase in economic development in many areas of the state. While the capital region of Phoenix/Scottsdale remains the biggest draw for new businesses, areas such as Flagstaff in the north and Tucson in the south are also attracting a significant amount of interest from businesses.
Expect more of it. The state is positioned to keep growing as costs are low, the standard of living is high and more people are choosing the desert for their homes and businesses.
Flagstaff, AZ: The Dawn Of The Electric Vehicle Age
As prices skyrocket, many Americans are beginning to question if filling up their vehicle’s gas tank is worth the significantly increased cost. The price of fuel has risen astronomically over the last several months and drivers around the globe are feeling the impact. This historic surge in price is “driving” many consumers toward a different transportation possibility and has motorists beginning to ask the question, “Is it time to consider buying an electric vehicle?”
The drastic rise in the cost of petroleum comes at an opportune moment for the electric vehicle industry. The demand for electric vehicles has consistently grown over the last several years, and now more than ever, it appears that making a switch to this environmentally sustainable option makes financial and practical sense. Major companies such as Lucid Motors, Rivian, and Tesla have been consistently expanding their production of these automobiles, which has ultimately driven the price down and amplified availability. An all-electric car is steadily becoming a more widely accessible and obtainable option for American consumers.
Arizona has become a conduit for the increased manufacturing of these electric vehicles over the past few years. Lucid Motors recently opened a major production facility in Arizona, which has spurred the arrival of several other principal companies in the supply chain to relocate to this economic oasis. The rapid expansion of the electric vehicle market has propelled the automotive manufacturing industry, and in its wake has created thousands of job opportunities for Arizona residents.
One example of this growth has been demonstrated in the mountain town of Flagstaff, located in northern Arizona. The city of Flagstaff recently attracted its largest new business in the last 50 years, as a result of this sector’s growth, and secured the arrival of UACJ Whitehall Automotive Industries. Whitehall Industries fabricates components for major electric vehicle suppliers and will create more than 300 new jobs for this community. The company’s entrance has created high-quality employment opportunities for the residents of Flagstaff which will directly enhance and propel the electric vehicle market.
The expansion of this industry is spurring the growth and overall economic development in Arizona. This rising industry is creating manufacturing jobs in the southwest region that rival what was once considered the automotive capital of the world, Detroit, MI. To learn more about Flagstaff and the excellent business opportunities that await in the city, please visit www.chooseflagstaff.com.
Sierra Vista: Transforming The Community For Better Business
Over the past two years, Sierra Vista accelerated the momentum it has been fueling for the past two years, making significant changes to the business landscape. Most notable are improvements to the airport and phase one of the downtown redevelopment project.
Although located in a mid-sized community of about 45,000 residents, the Sierra Vista Municipal Airport boasts a 12,001-foot runway—long enough to land any aircraft. With this massive runway ready for business, Sierra Vista prepped a 13-acre parcel with apron access to serve as a starting point for any aviation-related business. This one-of-a-kind prime location with ample parking is now ready for development.
Another multi-million-dollar project is Sierra Vista’s downtown redevelopment project, transforming a five-lane thoroughfare into a two-lane, pedestrian-friendly district that invites patrons to leave vehicles curbside and explore entertainment options.
The redevelopment project, along with the city of Sierra Vista’s matching grant program, are transforming the city’s historic West End into an inviting entrance to this community with a history that stretches back nearly 150 years.
Founded in 1877, Fort Huachuca is the U.S. Army’s technology training and testing hub, with operations supported by thousands of highly educated and technology-focused contractors. Soldiers trained there conduct missions critical to national defense, including NETCOM, which operates and defends the Army’s worldwide networks; the nation’s largest unmanned aerial systems training facility; and the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, focusing on myriad high-tech training to support Army intel.
Along with an extraordinary workforce, Sierra Vista’s high elevation (4,633 feet), surrounding mountain ranges, and pristine airspace set the stage for the fort’s world-class highly technical training and testing.
In today’s “work-from-anywhere” environment, Sierra Vista is attracting out-of-office workers as well, thanks to its low cost of living and high quality of life, along with opportunities for continuing technology education at one of the nation’s top community colleges, Cochise College, and University of Arizona’s College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST).
Ahead of the technology curve, Cochise College offers certificate programs in virtual reality. V/R is one of the fastest growing, most transformative technologies and can be applied to nearly every industry, including entertainment, engineering, medical, and military. Cochise College is also at the forefront in providing training for today’s in-demand careers, such as medical and skilled trades.
Sierra Vista-grown CAST is national leader in cybersecurity. In August 2021, CAST was lauded in Forbes for offering the best undergraduate program in the nation. CAST trains students using a unique online AI environment that replicates the intricacies of today’s burgeoning technology and cyber threats. CAST’s cyber operations program is designated as a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency, one of only 20 in the nation, and its intelligence education program is approved by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
As a center for education and defense, Sierra Vista enjoys a stable economy and fiscally conservative leadership. These key attributes contribute to the city’s low tax rate, elevating Sierra Vista as a short-list option for business start-ups, expansions, and relocations. Learn more at SierraVistaAZBusiness.com.
Tucson: Collaboration Aims To Skill Up In Industrial Sewing
It is not often the stars align, but when they do, the results can be magical. That is what happened during the past 18 months in Tucson, AZ, when an economic development team connected with a local entrepreneur to solve a workforce issue that was preventing her company from scaling.
Erica Yngve is the founder, owner and president of , Southern Arizona’s largest full-service cut-and-sew factory. Her 20,000-foot plant produces products that meet the needs of startups and commercial clients around the world.
Yngve receives orders from both established and emerging companies that want to produce materials made in the U.S. The number of incoming orders was so great, she did not have enough workers to meet the demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only 1,770 sewing machine operators working in Arizona.
Barbra Coffee is the director of economic initiatives for the city of Tucson. She recognized the opportunity when she saw it and determined there had to be a way the city could assist this business and help them scale so that Yngve could realize her growth plans and remain in the community. The business happens to sit in the heart of a neighborhood which is already a focus area for revitalization, an area of the city that has seen decades of disinvestment and is immediately adjacent to a Pascua Yaqui Tribal community center.
Scott Hathcock is president and CEO of Moonshot at NACET, a 22-year-old nonprofit organization that helps cities develop entrepreneurial eco-systems that create jobs. It was his relationship with Barbra that brought him to Tucson with an idea about a workforce accelerator focused on industrial sewing. The two quickly became three with the idea that Sonoran Stitch Factory could house the accelerator not only to skill up talent for Yngve’s shop, but also to develop a labor pool that would benefit industries throughout Tucson and the southern Arizona region.
Tucson is home to companies like Bombardier, Worldview and many other aerospace and aviation industries. With automotive production on the rise in Arizona, this sector would also have a need for industrial sewists.
Companies like Sonoran Stitch Factory that make case goods for the hospitality sector will also have a need to hire for these skills. It was a no-brainer: skill up talent, ensure the sustainability of local industry and develop the workforce in order to attract other companies to Tucson.
Moonshot has developed a workforce training program in industrial sewn goods manufacturing, material innovation and apparel circularity now known as Arizona Stitch Lab. The initial cohort of 10 graduated the first six-week training program in March. Students can continue their training and add skills and can choose an entrepreneurial track to develop their own sewing and design businesses if they choose. The city of Tucson committed funding of $150,000 for two years to support the accelerator which will help the program launch and support its ability to garner additional funding to enhance the output of graduates.
The collaboration with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe allowed for a unique way to source the program’s first candidates, all of whom are citizens of the Tribe. The Sonoran Stitch Factory sits in a neighborhood that has been inhabited since the year 1500, and generations of families have watched businesses come and go in the factory’s location.
For more information on how Tucson can meet the needs of your business growth and expansion plans, visit www.ConnectTucson.com. For information on the Tucson based industrial sewing accelerator, visit www.azstitchlab.org.