A blueprint developed by Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities is as good an economic development plan as Tucson has had.
It calls for all the right things: high-paying jobs, educational excellence, revival of downtown, private-public collaboration and building a livable community.
Platitudes, some will say. Heard it all before. Too obscure, too general, others will opine.
But it’s a good plan. It focuses on what needs to be focused on in this community, which has struggled mightily for a direction.
So now we have a direction, a road map, if you will.
But a road map is just that; it’s no good without a driver to move the vehicle down the road.
Success for the TREO plan, then, came not in its unveiling in a ceremonious gathering Wednesday afternoon at the Fox Theatre.
The key to success will be in the carrying out. And the key to the carrying out will be leadership.
Who will lead? In this town, governmental leadership often has proved itself lacking.
Business leadership, then, is the answer.
From where will it come?
Over the years, Tucson has had many economic development plans from an alphabet soup of economic development agencies. The problems are well-known, and today are not much different than they were last year or last decade.
What must change is the post-blueprint execution. And while many of the problems may lie at the feet of government – high crime rate, low educational achievement, outdated transportation network – business leaders must step up to lead change.
It is not encouraging that of TREO’s budget, just $3 of every $10 are from the private sector, with the rest coming from government. If businesses won’t support an agency charged with economic development, what leads anyone to think they will get behind that agency’s initiative to develop the economy?
TREO leaders say one key will be an annual report card they will produce showing how much – or how little – has been accomplished on each specific goal.
That, of course, is needed. But the important point of evaluation is more basic: Are Tucsonans ready to step up and drive the type of changes enumerated in the TREO blueprint? If not, this blueprint will be little more than one more report for the shelf.