Well, what do you know? It turns out there is something more aggravating than a broken record. It’s a broken record that routinely parrots back wrong information that lacks context and then holds it up to be the truth.
I have attempted at various times in the past to correct some of the “numbers” Joe Higgins and Chris DeSimone are fond of using in their opinion pieces, but they persisted once again in their recent opinion piece, “The numbers we can’t ignore.”
For example, while they consistently lament the loss of manufacturing jobs, they neglect to note this region has been lauded for its growth in biosciences and other technologies.
Pima County, for example, helped secure an expansion for Roche, the parent company of Ventana Medical Systems, while recently providing incentives to bring Accelr8 Technology Corporation’s headquarters here. The combined potential growth of those two efforts in the coming years could produce 800 jobs.
They rightly note that this year was the first that Pima County in recent history tapped its General Fund to pay for roads. What they neglect to mention is that state legislators took a significant portion of our road funding to balance their own budget, leaving us with insufficient revenues. Addressing the problem required the use of our local resources.
The duo compared the amount of uncompensated care at The University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, formerly Kino Hospital, with the amount at Northwest Hospital in Oro Valley. No one should be surprised there are more people who can’t pay for care on the south side than there are on the northwest side. It is a nonsensical comparison. Quite aside from that, however, we have entered into a partnership with The University of Arizona and expect we can reach a level of sustainable, quality medical care at that facility in the coming years.
For the casual reader, the piece insinuates there are multiple villains in this community, from the school districts, to the universities and local governments.
The authors, however, do not present any solutions.
I am under no illusions this region doesn’t have its challenges. Like any other community, there are improvements that must be made.
To that end, Pima County is working toward an economic development plan, which has been carefully developed over 10 months and informed by community comment. It’s a transformative, multipronged plan that protects our existing large private employers and nurtures our growing biosciences and technology industries.
The plan envisions a science- and industry-oriented business park that would capitalize on our existing strengths in the defense industry. It connects our emerging centers of technology through stronger transportation corridors. It provides additional funding to help satellite communities provide infrastructure for jobs, and it enhances the tourism market by expanding existing attractions.
There are solutions; but they will take a community effort to work together.
I have one request for the naysayers who carp from the sidelines: Stop it. To quote legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”
As we move forward from the persistent economic downturn that has plagued the country, and yes, the rest of the world, now is the time to celebrate our strengths and leverage them in ways that make our community even stronger.
As companies consider southern Arizona for its culture and beauty, its geographic location and its proximity to a world-class research university, the last thing our region needs is a constant drumbeat of negativity that relies on incomplete and dated statistics to build a case for cheap political shots that benefit no one.
As we move forward, let us harness the positive energies this community has to offer and demonstrate why the Pima County region remains one of the best communities in which to live.