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  • Aerospace cluster a dominant local jobs driver

    Feb 22, 2013 | Read More News
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    A revamped federal mapping tool shows that when it comes to producing local jobs, aerospace and defense is far and away the most robust industry cluster in the Tucson area.

    The aerospace cluster is responsible for more direct jobs locally than any other cluster, according to an analysis by the U.S. Cluster Mapping website, which relies on U.S. Census data and is supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Harvard Business School.

    In Pima County, business services weighed in as the second healthiest driver of employment, with tourism in third, according to the tool designed to help local policymakers gauge industry strength by showing concentrations of related firms, suppliers and support services associated with various fields.

    Here’s why it matters: It’s typically more effective to build upon existing concentrations of industry than trying to create new ones. It helps target investment where it makes the most sense. And it’s easier to focus on common needs to be addressed and synergies to be nurtured - such as in areas of workforce training or research development - if companies share some interdependence across a network.

    Pima County’s Economic Development Plan has several key pieces to build jobs across the spectrum of industries, but a few important ones include measures to protect and expand existing aerospace jobs, while also laying the foundation for a new aerospace/defense research and business park. The plan also envisions taking advantage of our location on major trade routes with Mexico, and proximity to highway, rail and air transportation that would enable expansion of the transportation and logistics industry cluster.

    The traded clusters referenced in the report bring in money from outside the region, which are considered the best industries to support, compared to local clusters, which primarily or exclusively serve local residents.

    “We are heartened by the stimulation we’re seeing in other sectors as well, including technology and biosciences, but this website is one more independent resource confirming that the aerospace cluster provides high-paying jobs that are absolutely vital to this region’s long-term prosperity,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

    To check out the new U.S. Cluster Mapping website, please visit:
    To learn more about Pima County’s economic development plan, please visit:
    The Pima County Bond Advisory Committee, meanwhile, is working to give shape to the next bond election, anticipated in 2014. To watch for upcoming public meetings, please visit