Article originally posted on AZ Big Media on November 11, 2020
There were a lot of factors working against economic development in the past year, but Arizona’s economic development community and the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) found ways to not just survive, but thrive in the face of a global crisis. The state saw new economic growth all over, new projects were being built, new companies were arriving or expanding and new businesses were starting.
In the Valley, company relocations resulted in more than 7,000 new jobs for the local population, according to data compiled by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC). Among the largest company relocations to occur in the past year were the expansion of ShellPoint Mortgage’s operations in Tempe, which were to bring 1,350 new positions. Also, information technology company Infosys announced it was expanding its operations and leasing 60,000 square feet of space in the new 777 Tower in the Novus Innovation Corridor in Tempe. That expansion will result in 1,000 new positions for the Tempe location.
The economic wins were shared with many Arizona communities in the past year, and here are reports from economic development leaders around the state:
Glendale is in the midst of a development boom. Helped by the arrival of the Loop 303 in the western edge of the city, Glendale is becoming a magnet for new businesses. Some of the highlights for the city during the past year are:
■ Mark Anthony Brewing, makers of White Claw, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Mike’s Harder Lemonade and Cayman Jacks selected Glendale to build their nearly one million square foot manufacturing facility. The announcement was made in early January. The facility started brewing in early October. They join Red Bull, Rauch and Ball Corporation in bringing over 300 jobs to Glendale. The project brings nearly a billion dollars in capital investment to Arizona.
■ Red Bull North America announced their plans to expand and add an 800,000 square foot North American distribution center to their first manufacturing facility in Glendale which was announced in 2019, their first outside of Austria.
■ Visionary Automotive Group announced that it will expand Glendale’s line up of luxury dealerships with the addition of Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar along the Loop 101 in the Arrowhead area. The dealerships will open the first quarter of 2021 and will bring hundreds of quality jobs to Glendale.
■ Epic Crystal Lagoons selected Glendale for the very first Crystal Lagoons branded mix use development. The development known as Crystal Lagoons Island Resort will bring an 11 acre lagoon, family entertainment center, class A office space, amusement rides, over 600 hotel rooms and more to the area just south of State Farm Stadium in the Sports & Entertainment District. The Resort is expected to open in October 2022, just in time for Super Bowl 2023 and NCAA Final Four which Glendale will be hosting once again.
GPEC President and CEO Chris Camacho referred to Goodyear as “the community of today” while presenting at the September 21 Council Meeting. He stated, “It amazes me the change in this community … we used to talk about the community of the future and now it’s the community of today… and the envy of many in the west and the entire part of the region.” Goodyear’s economic development team received two Excellence in Economic Development Awards from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). Goodyear’s Foreign Trade Zone Program earned a Gold Award in the Multi-Year Economic Development Program category and a Bronze Award for Economic Development Organization of the Year.
Some of the highlights for Goodyear were:
■ Amazon announced they are building two new facilities in Goodyear brining Amazon’s presence here to five unique operations with more than 3,000 employees. Arizona’s second, and the region’s first Amazon Robotics facility located in Goodyear’s Tech Corridor is the largest building in Goodyear, spanning 2.3 million square feet over four levels.
■ Joining Amazon Robotics in the Goodyear Tech Corridor, Vantage Data Centers is set to begin construction and Compass Data Centers’ campus is well underway, now constructing their second building.
■ Goodyear’s industrial market continues to be strong. In just 5 years, the 230- acre Airport Gateway Industrial Park went from vacant to built out. Baker Development recently completed two spec industrial buildings totaling 325,000 SF on the north end of the park and will begin construction on a 500,000 SF spec building on the south end. Joining Michael Lewis Company and Chewy.com, Quetico Logistics is under construction and expect to be operational during Q1 2020. At build out, the industrial park is expected to house 2,000-3,000 employees.
■ Goodyear looks forward to welcoming Chinese mattress manufacture MLILY, and in the past year oversaw the opening of Andersen Corporation, fairlife, Daimler Trucks North America, and XPO serving Boeing.* More than 3.5 million square feet of speculative development expected to be completed and delivered to the market in at least shell condition in 2020 alone. This includes the largest spec building ever built in the Phoenix Valley- Elwood Logistics at 1.3 million square feet.
■ In the last 12 months 29 new retail and entertainment concepts have opened in Goodyear including Roadrunner Harley Davidson, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Café Rio, Twiiseted Riddles escape rooms, and Tru by Hilton/Springhill Suites by Marriott.
Civic Square, Goodyear’s soon-to-be “heart of the city” including a new city hall, library, spec class A office and park, is on track to break groud in April 2021- an incredible way to step into to our future as the city celebrates 75 years in 2021.
■ Goodyear’s office market continues to be hot. Due to a lack of available product developers have been resourceful in finding more office space to Goodyear with some creative redevelopment projects. Two recent medical office projects are now 100% leased and tech office project that initially opened in 2018, just competed an expansion adding 140 new jobs.
■ Beyond the redevelopment projects, Goodyear’s Medical Corridor is expanding quickly. Mountain Park Health center completed and 11,000 SF expansion, Abrazo West Campus opened a new 12-bed inpatient center, and Estrella Women’s completed construction on a new 11,000 SF new health center.
■ Higher education, in particular medical education is flourishing, – Abrazo West Campus launched two new residency programs in September bringing the total number of graduate training programs at their Goodyear campus to 5.
The efforts of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development have been producing major results and recently were recognized by the International Economic Development Council at their annual conference. The city won three gold and three silver Excellence in Economic Development Awards. The gold awards were for the Office of Economic Development website, SelectMesa.com; for the multi-year economic development program at the Elliot Road Technology Corridor and for talent development and retention with the Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute, which is a program at Mesa Community College.
This year has been another active year for economic development in the city. Here are some of the new projects in the city:
■ Bird Dog Industrial announced Power 202 Business Park, a 330,000-square-foot Class A industrial park on approximately 19 acres on Power Road just north of Loop 202 in Mesa’s Gateway Area.
■ Boeing plans 155,000 square foot fabrication center in Mesa. The company expects to be in the facility by Q3 of 2021.
■ Marwest Enterprises announces the third phase of the Landing industrial complex near the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The latest phase, dubbed Landing 3, will be a new 525,000 SF building, with the ability to lease spaces ranging in size from 5,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet.
■ Amazon to locate a 150,000 square foot delivery station facility in Mesa near Falcon Field.
■ Commercial Metals Company, a Texas-based steel and metal manufacturer, plans to construct a new facility adjacent to its current operation in Mesa and create 185 additional jobs. The new micro mill represents a net investment of $300 million. It’s anticipated the facility will be operational by early 2023.
■ Dexcom, Inc., a leader in continuous glucose monitoring for patients with diabetes, announced an expansion in southeast Mesa. The new lease at Landing 202 is 486,000 square feet and adds a facility to their portfolio that is three times the size of their west Mesa location. The new Mesa Regional Distribution Center is designed to grow with the company.
■ Davcon Aviation, LLC and Mesa Hangar, LLC are building aircraft hangars with manufacturing space in a phased project on more than one million square feet of vacant City of Mesa-owned land on the northwest side of Mesa’s Falcon Field. The first phase is expected to be completed by April 2021, with the second phase to be completed by November 2021. The six-building, $65 million project will include large aircraft hangar space in addition to ancillary office space, aircraft staging ramp, and vehicle parking areas.
■ BEMO USA, a leading global provider of free-form architectural shapes and high-performance metal roof and wall systems, will complete its new 100,000 square feet Mesa facility.
■ This year, Majestic Realty Co. completed construction of Majestic Falcon Field at the NWC of Higley Road an Ingram Street. Majestic Falcon Field is an 85,554 SF single-building, Class A, master-planned industrial development. The expansion of the airport has seen the business jet traffic steadily increase and we see that to be our niche for the foreseeable future. Additional corporate hangars are in the planning stages and our newly surveyed industrial park will be receiving its first mfg headquarters in the near future.
■ DoorDash, the nation’s leading last-mile logistics platform, announced it will establish DashMart service in Tucson. DashMart is a new type of convenience store, offering both household essentials and local restaurant favorites to customers’ doorsteps. DashMart offers thousands of convenience, grocery, and restaurant items, from ice cream and chips, to cough medicine and dog food, to spice rubs and packaged desserts from local restaurants consumers love. DashMart stores are owned, operated and curated by DoorDash. Tucson is one of the first mid-sized markets for the DashMart concept. DashMart has leased 8,000 square feet of space for its new operations at 3981 East Grant Rd. The company plans to add 20 jobs, with additional potential future employment based on demand. DashMart is projected to open for business and be operational in Q4 2020.
■ Sandvik Materials Technology, a world-leading developer and manufacturer of advanced stainless steels and special alloys, announced plans to expand its operations of precision medical wire and wire-based components to Tucson. Sandvik has leased 8,800 square feet of space at 2424 East Aragon Rd. near the Tucson International Airport. The full expansion over five years will add an additional 20 jobs primarily in operations and manufacturing. The facility is scheduled to be operational in Q1 2021.
“We needed a west coast location near our customers and a superior technical workforce, which we found at the University of Arizona, Pima Community College and ASU. Tucson really checked all the boxes for us,” said Gary Davies, Head of Business Unit Medical, Sandvik Materials Technology.
■ Tucson welcomed Verifone to the community with the announcement of a new customer service and tech support operation bringing 168 jobs and a total economic impact of $174 million over the next five years. The company has opened operations at 5151 E Broadway Blvd. Verifone provides a unified platform to perform seamless payment experiences with any payment method.
■ After a competitive, multi-state process, Nanomoneo, a biotechnology instrument company, announces that it has selected the University of Arizona Center for Innovation in Tucson for its new applied research operation.
The newly formed, venture capital-backed company is working on solutions that allow consumers to “see” things that are not normally visible with the naked eye.The company plans to hire 14 people over the next five years, including research scientists, engineers and research support. The total economic impact is estimated at $17 million.
Nanomoneo selected Tucson as best meeting its needs for future high-growth plans. The company will be located at the UA Center for Innovation at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road.
Juliann Talkington, President of Nanomoneo, says it was a competitive process and the company is thrilled to be in Tucson. “We selected Tucson as our home, over several other locations because of the technical infrastructure, services available to early stage companies, reasonable regulatory environment, and social stability. Since we made the decision to locate in Tucson, we have been impressed by what the University of Arizona Center for Innovation and Sun Corridor Inc. have done to help us integrate into the community.”
■ COMSovereign Holding Corp. announces manufacturing operation to open in Tucson, creating 300 jobs and a total economic impact of $438 million. The company will manufacture wireless radio components including equipment for emerging 5G wireless phone networks. COMSovereign Holding Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire a 140,000-square foot building on 12.7 acres at 5120 S. Julian Drive. The building purchase with full-scale production is set to start at the facility by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
“We look forward to commencing full-scale operations in Tucson and drawing upon the deep talent in the local community that will play an important part in helping COMSovereign bring technology leadership in telecommunications back to the United States,” company founder Daniel Hodges said.
■ The Catholic University of America, based in Washington D.C., is opening its first satellite campus this fall in a unique partnership with Pima Community College, giving Tucsonans the opportunity to get a bachelor’s degree from a private, Catholic university locally.
■ Modular Mining, the global leader in the delivery of real-time computer-based mine management solutions, unveiled its new Customer Experience Center (CEC) during a ribbon cutting ceremony in January. Located in the company’s corporate headquarters in Tucson, the CEC’s opening coincides with Modular Mining’s 40th anniversary and celebrates the company’s continued growth and positive trajectory in both Tucson and the mining sector. The company employs more than 800 people globally, with nearly 350 located in Tucson.
“Our new Customer Experience Center is designed to showcase how mine management solutions can improve the safety, efficiency, and productivity of mining operations, and help our customers do so sustainably,” said Jorge Mascena, President & CEO, Modular Mining. “Today’s announcement marks our third major renovation project in six years at this facility. Tucson is evolving into a key mining technology hub, and this expansion demonstrates our commitment to leading this transformation as a long-term member of this community.”
■ PVB Fabrications, Inc. (PVB), primarily a multi-disciplined general contractor and provider of quality welding and fabrication services for the commercial, utility, government, heavy industrial and mining sectors, announced plans to expand its headquarters in Marana, Arizona.
PVB has purchased 10 acres at 8037 and 8041 West Tangerine Rd., and is planning the construction of a new corporate headquarters to consolidate operations into one location. The new facilities will include a 15,000 square foot administrative office building plus three separate 30,000 square foot fabrication/production facilities.
PVB is currently located at 911 West Grant Rd., and employs 375 people. The full expansion over 5 years will add an additional 169 jobs primarily in operations, project management, quality control, engineering, business development and finance.
■ Distant Focus is an R&D manufacturing and engineering firm that specializes in optical and sensing technologies. They have relocated their headquarters to Tucson from Champaign, Illinois to take advantage of the region’s strengths in optical sciences. Distant Focus will hire 15 optical engineers, highly skilled technicians and machinists, as well as general production workers. Over the next five years Distant Focus’s economic impact will be over $27 million added to the regional economy.
Behind the leadership of Pinal Partnership, the county is moving forward to become a major economic engine for the central part of the state. Pinal Partnership is a non-profit formed in 2005 to bring together all the people and ideas that will ultimately lead Pinal County to its full potential. Currently, Pinal Partnership has more than 150 members that include public agencies; private interests in business, industry, land ownership and development; conservation, educational and Indian communities; and Pinal County residents. Some of the efforts that Pinal Partnership has undertaken in the past year are:
Community Growth and Support
■ Alluvion began construction of a unique low-latency, high-density fiber optics path connecting the cities of Coolidge and Casa Grande. Roughly 32 miles of fiber will be strategically placed to provide service to existing businesses and anticipated near-term future developments.
■ Central Arizona Governments (CAG) was recently awarded a $400,000 supplemental funding grant by the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. The grant will enable CAG to, among several things, complete a Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for 2021-2025 and develop an Economic Recovery “Tool-Kit” for Communities, Local Businesses and Stakeholders in the CAG Region.
■ Empowerment Systems is a 501(c)3 non-profit Arizona corporation focused on Pinal and eastern Maricopa communities that focuses on multi-dimensional wellness and health education. They operate three major programs: the Empowerment Learning Collaborative provides learning opportunities and internships to college students and healthcare providers; the Arizona Living Well Institute delivers evidence-based health education and wellness; and the Community Outreach Resource Center provides outreach and enrollment assistance with programs like: AHCCCS Medicaid, KidsCare, ACA Marketplace, unemployment, etc.
■ Local First AZ Foundation and the Partnership for Economic Innovation are working to implement one centralized workforce development system that addresses workforce challenges in rural AZ through the implementation of Pipeline AZ. This program will optimize how job seekers and businesses connect in our ever-evolving, competitive, and fast-paced job market, while reaching untapped populations in Pinal County and keeping residents working in their local communities.
■ With the COVID virus challenges of increased unemployment, families’ lost access to school meal programs, and the expanded vulnerability of seniors needing food, Superstition Community Food Bank (SCFB), with the aid of volunteers, local police, and the National Guard members, continued uninterrupted on its usual 4-days per week schedule with a no-contact drive-up system. Currently, SCFB is looking to expand its refrigeration/freezer capacity to increase food storage to provide nutritious food availability.
■ United Way of Pinal County runs the largest free tax preparation program in Pinal County. During the pandemic, United Way of Pinal County moved quickly and created a virtual free tax preparation process. The program served 851 clients bringing $1,006,639.00 (IRS Final Report) into the hands of individuals and families in Pinal County at a crucial time due to the pandemic and its unfortunate results. Additionally, United Way of Pinal County created an online application process for rental and utility assistance that has paid $31,452.00 in rental and utility assistance to residents all throughout the county.
■ Alluvion began construction of a unique low-latency, high-density fiber optics path connecting the cities of Coolidge and Casa Grande. Roughly 32 miles of fiber will be strategically placed between Coolidge and Casa Grande to provide service to existing businesses and anticipated near-term future developments. (PICTURES INCLUDED COURTESY OF ALLUVION: Construction crew hanging self-supporting microduct which will house and protect the high-density fiber optics cable.)
■ Global Water Resources continues to do all they can to underpin the explosive growth of their area of Pinal County, from a water resources perspective. In alignment with their Total Water Management practices to address existing drought and climate change issues, they have invested in recycled water infrastructure inspired the reuse of a defunct and unfinished waste water treatment plant to the current Groves Recycled Water Management Facility that will eventually reduce the overall amount of groundwater relied upon in the community.
■ Orbitel Communications understands how important strong Internet service and whole-home Smart WiFi are, especially given the current situation. Orbitel is committed to keeping you connected, so they built a new state-of-the-art network to deliver more bandwidth and faster Internet speeds in order to help their rural The team stands ready to assist as Internet demand has changed. They want to help their customers access the latest information regarding the virus, and stay connected to their families, friends, schools, and places of work. www.orbitelcom.com
Land & development
■ Langley Properties recently bought a 535.84 acre property in the Town of Florence on the SWC of Cooper and Judd Roads. The property is residential land and is planned for residential development.
Over the last 12 months, the McRae Group has either sold or is in the process of selling nearly 1,750 lots to homebuilders in 15 Pinal County communities, totaling approximately $75,000,000. These lots are a combination of finished, partially improved, and platted & engineered.
■ Saint Holdings is one of the largest private landowners and developers in the region. A few of the most recent projects that will help shape Pinal County’s continued growth include a recent sale of approximately 1,000 acres to a Nextera Energy for a 100 megawatt project. This will be the largest solar farm in Pinal County and one of the largest in the state. Another 550 acres was sold in early 2020 to S-Power for a project that will supply Intel’s Chandler campus. Additional projects include Inland Port Arizona (IPAZ) which is home to Nikola Motor Co. and Central Arizona Commerce Park (CAZCP) which is home to Lucid Motors and Tractor Supply Co.
■ WeSERV Association of Realtors is a membership organization of professionals with expertise and experience across various industries to facilitate economic development projects like Kirk McCarville and Land Advisors’ recent sale of 405 acres on East Diversion Dam Rd to Sunshine Concrete and Materials for a sand and gravel mine in order to make concrete needed in various projects as well as Jerry Kirkpatrick with Coldwell Banker Rox Realty’s soon to be closed purchase where LMTGRP, LLC is purchasing an industrial property in order to locate a laser tech company. This purchase is scheduled to close escrow in early November 2020.
■ Western Technologies is currently providing construction materials testing for Pinal County’s four new public buildings funded from a $63 million bond issue the Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved for several new facilities in 2019.
■ The City of Maricopa has contracted with EPS Group to design the first leg of the East-West Corridor, one of the most needed transportation routes in Pinal County. This ambitious project will connect the City of Maricopa to Casa Grande and I-10 utilizing a relatively new roadway type – the Arizona Parkway. The City plans to construct the western-most two miles of the East-West Corridor from SR 347 to Porter Road. Also included in the project is a half mile stretch of Porter Road that incorporates a new, and much needed, bridge over the Santa Rosa Wash. The City hopes to have design completed in the Fall of 2021, and construction done by Spring 2023.
■ Sundt Construction is currently working on the Gila River bridge on State Route 77. The bridge is critical because of its crucial access point for major copper mining centers near Winkelman, AZ. Sundt’s Transportation Group is in the process of replacing the 1960s-era bridge with a new six-span concrete structure that will be stronger, wider and safer. The team is more than halfway complete with a reconstruction of the bridge.
■ Wilson & Company is honored to have Dan Marum serving as the Pinal Regional Transportation Authority Interim General Manager. Wilson & Company looks forward to setting the stage for successful delivery of transportation improvements across the region for the next 20 years. Over the past 5 years Wilson & Company has been assisting the City of Maricopa with the development and implementation of their Area Transportation Plan that will guide future multi-modal transportation system investments to meet the mobility needs of current and future residents and businesses.
According to Marana’s director of economic development Curt Woody, it was another strong year, as the city welcomed a great deal of development. One expansion to highlight was the plans for PVB Fabrications, Inc., primarily a multi-disciplined general contractor and provider of quality welding and fabrication services for the commercial, utility, government, heavy industrial and mining sectors. The company’s new facilities will include a 15,000 square foot administrative office building plus three separate 30,000 square foot fabrication/production facilities. PVB currently employs 375 people. The full expansion over five years will add an additional 169 jobs primarily in operations, project management, quality control, engineering, business development and finance.
Other expansion plans include:
■ A distribution/logistics firm is in escrow for 30 acres at Ina & Silberbell.
■ The Marana Micro Hospital recently opened at I-10 & Cortaro. There is also a Home 2 Suites in conceptual stage at the same location. Radiology Ltd has purchased land adjacent to the hospital and will begin their build soon.
■ Alicat Scientific is about to begin a 15,000 square foot facility and employee expansion.
■ FLSmidth Krebs is currently undergoing an 82,000 square foot facility and employee expansion.
■ Sargent Aerospace and Defense is about to undergo an expansion
■ Modern Studios recently opened a production and live studio shoot facility for film, TV, and various other media.
■ Luke Dealership just recently closed on 12 acres at the Marana Center (Twin Peaks & I-10)
■ Ventana/Roche light manufacturing and distribution facility at Tangerine & I-10 is currently in design phase to duplicate their existing 60,000 square feet facility and build another adjacent to it.
■ SW Gas is currently in escrow for 23 acres adjacent to Ventana for a Regional Operations Center
■ International Towers is going through expansion phases with employee counts approaching 300
■ PSE Archery, which manufactures high-end hunting and competition bows, just absorbed 54,000 square feet at Dove Mtn and Tangerine. Plans are to build a new 100,000 square foot manufacturing facility in the town.