Tucson, AZ

Copper mining has traditionally been a vital part of the city’s economy; in 1976, for instance, one of every twenty Tucson residents was a copper miner. Seven years later, a combination of foreign competition and depressed copper prices forced a dramatic downturn in mining industries nationwide, with the result that only four-tenths of a percent of the working population was employed in mining by the mid-1980s. The early 1990s saw an upturn in the mining industry again. In Arizona, the mining industry continues to contribute to the economy, although locally and globally the industry has shown signs recently indicating a slowdown. At the time of the mining crisis, Tucson and southern Arizona looked to economic diversity. In the 1980s the area experienced economic growth from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with more than 9,200 employees and the University of Arizona with more than 11,000 employees as well as growth in the high-tech and service industries, particularly in banking. Today the Tucson economy is based on the arts, tourism, manufacturing and high-tech industries. Unique because of Tucson’s relatively small size is the fact that a ballet, symphony, live theater, and opera call Tucson home. Tucson’s dependably dry and sunny climate assures continuing growth in tourism, an industry that employs about 1 in 10 workers in the metropolitan area labor force and brings in well over 1.5 billion dollars annually. Manufacturing activity has doubled in the last 10 years and includes such companies as AlliedSignal, Weiser Lock, 3M, Burr-Brown, Environmental Air Products, Inc., Krueger Industries, Inc., and Raytheon Missile Systems Company. Marked changes have come about elsewhere in Tucson’s economic base, however, with copper mining being most deeply affected. Tucson has actively promoted expansion in the high-technology industry. The Milkin Institute ranked Tucson the seventh Best Performing City out of 200 Metropolitan Areas in large part because of job growth in the high-tech arena. More than 300 local companies are directly involved in information technology. Other growing high-technology areas are bio industry, aerospace, environmental technology, plastics and advanced composite materials, and teleservices. It is hoped that these industries will continue to be a catalyst, drawing companies to Tucson. Another factor in the renewed strength of Tucson’s economic base is the building or relocation of major corporations in the area. Industry leaders include Raytheon Missile Systems, IBM, Honeywell, Texas Instruments, Intuit, America Online, and Bombardier Aerospace. Tucson has become more involved in international trade and has developed close partnerships with Mexico. One development asset in Tucson is the city’s proximity to the Mexican border. The city actively encourages the growth of twin-plant or “maquiladora” industries locating part of their operations in Tucson. Increased expansion is predicted in the manufacture of electronics, aerospace, and computer component products. Items and goods produced: aircraft and aircraft parts, electronic equipment, steel castings and fabrications, flour, boxes, agricultural chemicals, aluminium products, radios, mobile homes, air conditioning machinery, creamery products, beer, liquor, saddles and leather goods, apparel, native American and Mexican novelties.