January 13, 2016

Mayor’s Update – January 13, 2016

Two-Year Plan Progress Report Highlights

To read the complete report, click here.

Many thanks to all involved in moving us toward these goals: city administration and staff, the city council, and the community. It takes the work of many people to reach any one of these goals.

Tucson is fortunate to have so many groups and individuals pulling in the same direction, toward a city that combines a high quality of life with economic opportunity for its residents. This is how we build a strong economy and a strong community.


From January 2014 to November 2015, the Tucson metro area added 19,400 jobs. A number of major employers chose to expand operations in the region, including AFNI, APAC Customer Services, CAID Industries, Cenpatico, Centene Corporation, Comcast Cable, Garmin, GEICO, HomeGoods, Northwest Medical Center, Santé, VXI Global Solutions and Watermark Retirement Communities.

City of Tucson incentives awarded or at various stages of review are helping to spur $347.5 million in private capital investment and create more than 3,400 jobs. Two recent cases of city incentives bringing jobs to Tucson are Comcast (960 jobs) and HomeGoods (810 jobs). City incentives also helped locally-headquartered companies expand, including CAID Industries, Mister Car Wash, Modular Mining Systems and Watermark Retirement Communities.

Entrepreneurship and STEM Jobs Pipeline

The city awarded StartUp Tucson $50,000 in federal funds for its work assisting entrepreneurs with training, networking, mentoring and idea funding competitions. Later, the U.S. Small Business Administration awarded them $1.44 million to help high-potential companies reach the next level – the only such award in the west. StartUp Tucson also launched a technology, entrepreneurship and new creative class festival, 10 West. Mayor Rothschild spoke at this city co-sponsored event.

Touring Sargent Aerospace & Defense

Touring Sargent Aerospace & Defense

In 2012, the city partnered with the University of Arizona’s Tech Launch Arizona to help form the Commercialization Advisory Network – now a network of 750 industry professionals available to help launch UA technologies. Over the last two fiscal years, Tech Launch Arizona has had 367 patents filed and 59 issued, 158 licenses executed and 23 startups created.

The UA STEM Learning Center surveyed local STEM employers’ hiring needs (http://tinyurl.com/puu3fbj). Both this study and a previous study (http://tinyurl.com/jq84mbb) found “a strong preference for job candidates with work experience,” so the Mayor’s Office co-hosted a STEM Internship Business Forum with the UA STEM Learning Center, asking employers to commit to hiring interns at all levels, from high school to university, and providing one-page fact sheets (mayorrothschild.com/STEM) on how to obtain interns from the UA, Pima, JTED and area high schools. Internships benefit students by closing the hiring gap between school and career, so they graduate with one or two years of industry experience. They also benefit employers, who gain access to current skills at low cost. And, they benefit the community by keeping more of our graduates in Tucson.

Industry partnered with academia on several other STEM initiatives, including Manufacturing Block Parties and Southern Arizona Construction Career Days, showcasing Southern Arizona’s manufacturing capabilities and introducing students to career opportunities locally in manufacturing and construction. The University of Arizona, K-12 educators, employers and others continued to partner on STEM initiatives, including SARSEF science fairs, STEM summer camps, workshops, tutoring, professional development and lectures. Mayor Rothschild attended and spoke at many of these events.

In January 2016, Mayor Rothschild will co-host a meeting of STEM employers and high school principals with the Arizona Technology Council and the UA STEM Learning Center to bring the TEALS program to Tucson (https://www.tealsk12.org/), adding computer science courses to high school curricula.

Also, the mayor welcomed potential EB-5 investors at an event hosted by a local healthcare company seeking to expand.

Aerospace and Defense
Mayor Rothschild met with Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James in Washington, D.C. to express Tucson’s support for Davis-Monthan, the 162nd, our Airmen and military, as well as the importance of Southern Arizona’s military installations to national security and our local economy. In meetings with Secretary James, with Arizona’s congressional delegation, and with local business leaders, Mayor Rothschild has repeatedly stated Tucson’s desire to be considered for hosting a variety of missions – which the city council memorialized in Resolution 22006. The mayor also meets regularly with wing commanders at Davis-Monthan and the 162nd, and with regional partners committed to keeping Southern Arizona’s military installations relevant and strong.

The city has entered into agreements with the Tucson Airport Authority, Raytheon, and the Department of Defense to enhance the operational capabilities of all three. The city also commissioned a study by national security expert Dr. Barry Blechman on a long-term strategy for Davis-Monthan, and participated in Marstel-Day’s ICEMAP process (Installation Complex Encroachment Management Action Plan).

With the 162nd Wing Commander and Airmen

With the 162nd Wing Commander and Airmen

Working with the Arizona Technology Council, the mayor toured a number of aerospace and technology companies and met with their CEOs or regional managers. In addition, the Arizona Technology Council, Pima County Workforce Investment Board and Sun Corridor, Inc. convened an aerospace and defense industry sector partnership to address workforce development, supply chain, and other issues.

Healthcare and Wellness
Mayor and Council approved zoning for a new 11-story, 700,000 square-foot patient tower and entrance at Banner University Medical Center, which includes 336 new private rooms and 22 new operating rooms. This project is part of Banner’s $500 million commitment toward capital needs at BUMC in Tucson. Construction is set to begin in 2016, with completion in 2019.

Northwest Medical Center also expanded, adding 33 jobs and qualifying for the city’s Primary Jobs Incentive.

In addition, Mayor Rothschild convened the Greater Tucson Healthcare Industry Partnership, a group consisting of hospital CEOs and other industry leaders, to address issues affecting the healthcare industry in our region, such as workforce development and marketing.

Solar and Energy
Tucson Unified School District became the 12th largest on-site green power user in the United States, installing 11 megawatts of solar to provide 20% of the district’s power needs. TUSD expects to save more than $11 million over the 20-year lifespan of the project.

The city is in the process of installing solar shade structures at the parking lot for Udall Recreation Center. Solar installation at closed city landfills may not be feasible for technical reasons; however, the city currently purchases 9.7 megawatts of community solar from TEP, with an option to purchase up to 10 megawatts. Approximately 12% of the electricity the city uses is from renewable sources, mostly solar.

The Mayor’s Office held an Energy Efficiency Workshop for Businesses with TEP and Tucson Water to increase awareness of TEP and Tucson Water’s conservation incentive programs. 180 local business representatives attended. A second workshop is planned for March 2016.

At the mayor's Energy Efficiency Workshop for Businesses

At the mayor’s Energy Efficiency Workshop for Businesses

Mayor Rothschild also held solar roundtables with local solar industry representatives. In response to concerns raised at these events, the city standardized fees and the mayor wrote to the Arizona Corporation Commission and authored a guest editorial objecting to proposals that would have negatively impacted solar and energy efficiency (proposals that did not pass).

The City of Tucson and the Mayor’s Office have worked on several attempts to enact PACE legislation at the state level – efforts which have not yet been successful.

Tucson Water partnered with the University of Arizona and Pima County in opening the WEST Center Water Reclamation Campus to develop and test technologies that recycle water and save energy. The WEST Center is unique in the state in providing real-world conditions in which to evaluate new technologies.

Working with Visit Tucson and the Arizona Commerce Authority, the City of Tucson opened trade offices in Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregón and Mexico City. Offices are available to Arizona companies seeking to do business in Mexico and Mexican companies seeking to do business in Arizona. Tucson-based Offshore Group continues to expand in Mexico, and Mexican company La Costeña continues to expand in Tucson. In 2014, Mexican company Zucarmex launched operations in Tucson.

At the mayor's Borderlands Trade Conference

At the mayor’s Borderlands Trade Conference

Also in 2014, Mayor Rothschild held a Borderlands Trade Conference attended by more than 300 business and government leaders from Arizona and Mexico. The mayor will hold a second Borderlands Trade Conference in January 2016. The first conference focused on import/export. The second conference will focus on the manufacturing supply chain in the Arizona-Sonora Bi-National Mega-Region. Mayor Rothschild has also spoken at trade forums, roundtables and workshops on import/export issues.

The mayor has taken a number of trade delegations to Sonora, Sinaloa and Mexico City, as well as hosting Mexican business and government leaders in Tucson. In 2014, he was presented with the Ohtli Award by Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.

The City of Tucson was a title sponsor of the Arizona Daily Star’s Arizona-Sonora Business Resource Guide. The city has also participated in BIEN (Building an International Economic Network), an online database connecting businesses throughout North America.

The University of Arizona continues to work with its partners in the Border Technology Manufacturing Initiative.

Also, Tucson International Airport hopes to be able to make an announcement regarding nonstop air service between Tucson and Hermosillo before the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Congress authorized 170 additional U.S. Customs agents for border ports in Arizona, but Homeland Security has had difficulty filling these positions. Because trade and tourism are important to Tucson’s economy, Mayor Rothschild held a job fair with DHS, TPD and TFD to help with recruitment.

Arizona’s congressional delegation sought and obtained inclusion of I-11 (I-19 from Nogales to Tucson, I-10 from Tucson to Phoenix, and US 83 from Wickenberg to Nevada) and the Sonoran Corridor in the five-year transportation bill.

Working with regional partners, Mayor Rothschild was able to have the first steps toward expansion of SR-189, which links the Mariposa Port of Entry with I-19, moved up into ADOT’s Five-Year Transportation Facilities Construction Program. The League of Arizona Cities and Towns’ Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Works Committee, chaired by Mayor Rothschild, also passed a Resolution urging ADOT to further accelerate expansion of SR-189 in the interest of trade. Mayor Rothschild also met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez regarding this key component of Arizona’s transportation infrastructure.

Tucson International Airport broke ground on a new control tower with $42 million in federal funding. TIA also opened a new Global Entry Enrollment Center to expedite passage through U.S. Customs for frequent international travelers.

New nonstop service came to Tucson via United and Delta, with additional flights to Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports as well as to LAX – now served 11 times a day by four airlines. Tucson also has two nonstop flights daily to Seattle. In addition, airlines have begun flying larger aircraft into and out of Tucson International Airport, which starts 2016 with a 7.2% increase in available seat capacity, for an average 11,528 seats a day flying into and out of TIA.

The city’s Downtown Links project completed Phase II, from I-10 to Church, and is now in design on Phase III, from Church to Broadway. When complete, it will eliminate grade crossings, allowing downtown Tucson to receive a “quiet zone” designation from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Union Pacific continued to invest in its Arizona rail infrastructure, making its total investment $483 million from 2010 through 2015. The city continues to work with regional partners to expedite planning and advocate for construction of high speed passenger rail between Tucson and Phoenix.

Tucson continues to host pro cycling races; tournaments in baseball, golf, soccer and softball at the amateur, professional and/or international level; and the annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros and Tour de Tucson.

The Mayor’s Office is working with city staff to secure private sponsorships for a bike share program, a popular amenity with tourists as well as residents. A bike share program will also help Tucson become one of six cities in the United States to be designated a Platinum Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.

At the announcement of the HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival

At the announcement of the HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival

Mayor Rothschild worked with city staff and community partners on a successful application for Tucson to be designated the first and only World City of Gastronomy in the United States by UNESCO, the educational, scientific and cultural agency of the United Nations.

The Mayor’s Office also worked with the community to launch several new festivals: Hats Off to Heroes, an extended celebration the weekend following Veterans Day; HSL Properties Tucson Jazz Festival, with jazz artists of all genres; and the Tucson Festival of Films, a “best of” compilation of 8 local film festivals.

Conferences such as the International Festivals & Events Association Convention and the Global Retailing Conference, both held in Tucson last year, helped promote our region as both tourist destination and business location.

Between new student and market rate housing, we are close to, and may have exceeded, our goal of 2,500 people living downtown. This has been helped by city incentives and the successful launch of the streetcar, which carried its millionth passenger more than a month ahead of projections.

Tucson Convention Center arena improvements are completed, and the renovation was awarded 2014 Project of the Year for structures between $5 and $25 million statewide by the American Public Works Association. Full service grocery Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market opened; the AC Hotel by Marriott is set to begin construction in 2015 and two more downtown and university-area hotels are in the works.

Minor downtown traffic realignments have occurred. Also, city-owned properties on the western end of the streetcar line at Congress and I-10 and south of Mission Lane have been conveyed to the Rio Nuevo District in order to maximize development opportunities at those sites.

Mayor Rothschild participated in TUSD’s Steps to Success program, walking and knocking on doors of recent high school dropouts to persuade them to give school another chance. As a result, 314 students re-enrolled and 41 of those students have since graduated.

The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, which the mayor co-founded, published two reports: one on the high cost of dropouts and the other on “opportunity youth.”

With TUSD Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez and a Steps to Success high school graduate

With TUSD Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez and a Steps to Success high school graduate

Working with the Pima Community College Foundation and GEDWorks, and with funding from Wells Fargo, Mayor Rothschild launched a limited period of free GED testing for Southern Arizona residents. The PCC Foundation and Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona each maintain charitable funds to pay for GED and employment certification testing for low-income applicants.

Mayor Rothschild held a summer reading challenge for children, read to K-12 students at dozens of elementary schools and worked to bring financial and volunteer resources to literacy groups. His appointed Poet Laureate, Rebecca Seiferle, visited Tucson classrooms and held poetry contests for K-12 students.

With district superintendents, announcing attendance initiatives

With district superintendents, announcing school attendance initiatives

The mayor convened school district superintendents to participate in citywide school attendance initiatives. In TUSD alone, 80% of TUSD schools improved their September attendance, with 5,353 fewer absences; 64% of kindergarten classes improved attendance and 95% of kindergarten classes that participated in the “Bee at School!” contest improved attendance.

The Mayor’s Office joined President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative along with other community partners, including United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and its closely-aligned Cradle to Career initiative.

The mayor also initiated a letter sent by business groups to legislative leaders asking the state to fully fund K-12 education.

The Mayor’s Office hosted and promoted job fairs targeted at veterans, returning citizens (returning from incarceration), refugees and youth.

In the last two years, Mayor Rothschild has welcomed several presidential cabinet members to Tucson, including the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Veterans Affairs. In meetings, they discussed job training, health insurance and homelessness.


Economic Sustainability
At Mayor Rothschild’s request, the city created a Charter Review Committee which recommended several changes, two of which were placed on the November 2015 ballot and passed. The committee will reconvene to reconsider financial recommendations that were deferred in favor of Pima County’s bond issues.

The city continued to pursue annexations, adding 4.56 square miles of previously unincorporated land to the city in 2014 and 2015. This includes the Auto Mall at Oracle and Wetmore as well as 2,076 acres of valuable land at the airport, allowing the city to offer incentives to companies seeking to locate or expand in these areas.

Mayor Rothschild supports City Manager Mike Ortega’s plan to put the city on track to have a structurally balanced budget in two years. Part of that plan involves seeking voter approval for new sources of revenue. Meanwhile, the RTA is beginning to plan for reauthorization.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns’ Pension Task Force released a report, “The Yardstick: a Tool to Evaluate Proposed Reforms of Arizona’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System,” with recommendations for reforming the state-run public safety retirement system.

Mayor Rothschild and the city continued to promote purchasing locally. The mayor co-hosted events with Local First Arizona and the city offered free streetcar rides on Shop Local Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

And finally, City of Tucson personnel are meeting regularly with Arizona State Land Department personnel to plan and review opportunities for development in areas including the HAMP.

Service Delivery
In 2014 and 2015 the city’s Small Business Assistance Line (837-4100) continued to receive calls and the Office of Integrated Planning continued to work with city departments on planning, especially where multiple departments and outside entities, such as utilities, were involved. The Mayor-Manager Development Action Team facilitated two large development projects.

The Community Banking Program, created by Mayor and Council in 2013, invested $5 million of the city’s cash reserves in Alliance Bank of Arizona, which makes loans to local businesses and nonprofits from its deposits. From the time of receiving the city’s deposit in July 2013 to April 2014, Alliance increased its loans in Tucson by $37 million.

Mayor and Council also authorized the city’s Industrial Development Authority to offer additional down payment assistance to moderate- and low-income home buyers.

At the groundbreaking of Tucson Water's Advanced Oxidation Process Facility

At the groundbreaking of Tucson Water’s Advanced Oxidation Process Facility

Tucson Water continued to replace old water meters with digital meters and make other technology improvements, opening their Advanced Oxidation Process Facility in 2014. In 2015, the City of Tucson entered into a water agreement with the City of Phoenix to store part of its CAP allotment in Tucson’s wellfield – an arrangement that saves money and increases water security for both cities.

The Tucson Police Department received a generous gift of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) from the Steven M. Gootter Foundation, equipping officers in patrol cars to respond when they encounter someone in cardiac arrest.

The city is creating a reserve fund to provide employees with health insurance through a self-insured plan – one that will continue to provide wellness and prevention services and incentives.

Mayor and Council recognized city employees for excellent performance with individual Certificates of Appreciation. Also, City Manager Mike Ortega is proposing modest financial incentives for employees whose ideas and innovations result in significant savings for taxpayers.

Nobody came out a winner after the Teamsters’ bus strike. The city manager has established lines of communication with both the Teamsters and Sun Tran to facilitate the adoption of operating efficiencies and, hopefully, to prevent interruptions of service in the future.


Health and Wellness
Tucsonans moved more than a million miles as part of Tucson Moves a Million Miles, reaching our goal in April 2015. Mayor Rothschild promoted fitness through K-6 Fitness Day in local school districts, and through Tucson Fitness Month, offering free fitness classes throughout the month of May with help from the YMCA, Tucson Parks & Rec, Tucson Fire, the JCC and others. The mayor has also participated in bike to work and walk to school events, integrating fitness into daily commutes.

The city authorized HUD Section 108 loan guarantee funds to renovate low-income housing at Catalunya and Miraflores Apartments. Wells Fargo gave $50,000 to the Pima Council on Aging to help at-risk seniors remain in their homes as long as possible. The mayor also recorded a PSA promoting volunteer drivers for seniors.

Mayor Rothschild created a Commission on Food Security, Heritage and Economy to look at issues as diverse as backyard and community gardens, food deserts and promoting our region as a food capital.

Social Programs
From June 2013 through November 2015, we housed 1,444 formerly homeless veterans – just 206 away from reaching our goal of housing 1,650 homeless veterans by the end of 2015. This is the point at which we reach “functional zero” – where the backlog of homeless veterans has been housed and the community is now able to keep up with ongoing demand, estimated at 40 to 42 veterans a month. To help with this final push, the mayor held a workshop for landlords and property managers, letting them know how they can help.

The Mayor’s Commission on Poverty and the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences issued their poverty report (http://tinyurl.com/q2wesal) which found, among other things, a need for better integration of services and better awareness of what services were out there. To help with both, the Mayor’s Office applied for and won a $1.4 million grant to increase graduation rates at eight community high schools serving low-income neighborhoods, placing AmeriCorps VISTA members at each school to coordinate wrap-around social services for students and their families.

With homebuyers who qualified for down payment assistance

With homebuyers who qualified for down payment assistance

Wells Fargo granted the cities of Tucson and South Tucson $4.5 million in $15,000 down payment assistance grants and program support, with the grants going to moderate- and low-income homebuyers. Wells Fargo also gave $500,000 to support local initiatives of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Old Pueblo Community Services, Our Family Services, Pima Community College Foundation, Pima Council on Aging, Tucson Clean and Beautiful and the Tucson Urban League.

In 2014, Mayor Rothschild was honored to receive the Brian Mickelsen Housing Hero Award for an elected official from the Arizona Department of Housing.

To increase the number of Tucson residents with health insurance, the Mayor’s Office worked with Enroll America and the Pima County Enrollment Coalition. After the first year, Pima County’s rate of uninsured went from almost one in five to one in ten.

The mayor's Second Chance job/resource fair

The mayor’s Second Chance job/resource fair

The mayor’s Second Chance Coalition, aimed at helping returning citizens successfully reintegrate into society after incarceration, has held job and resource fairs for returning citizens and symposia for the community, educating employers and landlords about re-entry roadblocks and resources. Successful re-entry reduces poverty as well as recidivism. The City of Tucson became the first city in Arizona to “ban the box” – remove questions about past convictions from the initial hiring process, so that qualified applicants can be considered on their merits before criminal history is taken into account.

Mayor’s Office staff worked to increase awareness of and resources for Be Cool, Tucson!, a program of CHRPA, Community Home Repair Projects of Arizona, that helps with weatherization and swamp cooler maintenance and repair.

Mayor Rothschild also helped promote the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program, which offers free breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday at various locations to children 18 and under.

Attractive, Safe Neighborhoods
Mayor and Council passed an ordinance giving school districts tools to rapidly repurpose closed schools, including expedited building plan reviews and deferred building permit fees, which has been used to help with redevelopment at Wrightstown Elementary School.

Funding was added to the city’s graffiti remediation program. Tucson Clean & Beautiful added to its Adopt-a-Mile and Adopt-a-Park programs. And, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce continued its First Impressions project, improving medians on Tucson Blvd. from the airport to Valencia Blvd.

Civic Engagement
Mayor Rothschild’s Youth Council meets regularly and has volunteered with various government and nonprofit organizations.

Two Sunday Evening Forum events took place: one featuring former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the other, recording artist Linda Ronstadt.

Many of the mayor’s initiatives rely on volunteer labor, which the community has generously provided.


Environmental Resilience
Trees for Tucson and individual Tucsonans have planted more than 19,700 trees through the mayors’ 10,000 trees program, including many at schools, parks and neighborhoods that lack shade from trees and are vulnerable to heat-related health risks. The 10,000th tree was planted at Oyama Elementary School.

Planting the 10,000th tree at Oyama Elementary School

Planting the 10,000th tree at Oyama Elementary School

After years of public meetings, the city updated its Land Use Code to accommodate backyard gardening and chickens, increasing food security.

The city’s Tucson Utility Management System (TUMS) is now online, allowing the city to process its more than $25 million in energy costs through the system, set goals for conservation, and measure results.

The Tucson Parks and Recreation Department worked with private partners to restore a section of Atturbury Wash with native riparian vegetation through the Conserve 2 Enhance program. C2E also partnered with Tucson Water to teach visitors to Tucson Village Farm about water conservation.

In 2014, the City of Tucson received a 4-STAR community rating for leadership in sustainability from STAR Communities, a national organization.

Bikeable/Walkable Tucson
In 2013, Mayor and Council voted to put $1.8 million of HUD Section 108 loan guarantee funds toward sidewalk construction ADA compliance. Also in 2013, Allstate Insurance Company worked with the Tucson Department of Transportation to create the Look Twice, Tucson safety campaign, still in effect.

In 2015, Mayor Rothschild joined the national safety campaign Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets, with an increased focus on both enforcement and engineering.

Working with the Tucson Department of Transportation and the Pima Association of Governments, Mayor Rothschild secured federal funding to create a bike share program for Tucson and is now soliciting sponsorships to cover operating costs. Through TDOT, PAG and the Regional Transportation Authority, more and safer bikeways and crosswalks have been constructed within city limits.

Mayor’s Office staff have worked with the bike community, Davis-Monthan, and Pima County to bring the 100-Acre Wood project, a mountain bike trail facility near the base, to the next stage of development.


The Tucson Musicians Museum launched its exhibit hall at the TCC in 2015. Working with the Tucson Pima Arts Council, Mayor Rothschild held several art openings at his office. The mayor served as honorary chair of both the Arizona International Film Festival and the Loft Film Festival, as well as launching the Tucson Festival of Films with Visit Tucson and eight local film festivals in 2015. Finally, working with the Tucson Parks and Recreation Department and private partners, a meditation garden is being constructed at Rio Vista Park adjacent to the Rillito River.