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  • TREO president: Supply of qualified workers will determine our economic future

    Aug 09, 2013 | Read More News
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    The supply of qualified workers has become the number one driver of the local economy, the president and CEO of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities told the Pima County Workforce Investment Board on Friday, Aug. 9.

    TREOThe first question that companies considering relocating to Tucson ask is “Do you have the qualified workers to fill our company’s demand?” Joe Snell of TREO said.

    Although the Pima County One-Stop Career Center does a “great job” of providing job training and retraining, a “skills gap” exists, Snell said.

    He presented a clip of a May 3, 2013, CBS Evening News report that featured Accelerate Diagnostics CEO Lawrence Mehren talking about the need for better educated, more skilled workers.

    “Our ability to attract and retain qualified workers will determine our economic future,” Snell said.

    He praised County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, Supervisors Chairman Ramón Valadez and Supervisor Sharon Bronson for their instrumental efforts to bring the company here earlier this year.

    Accelerate Diagnostics was one of 10 companies that TREO helped to relocate or expand here in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Fiscal year 2012-13 was “the strongest year we’ve had since the recession” and had a $2 billion economic impact, he said.

    K-12 education is also a top consideration of companies looking to move or expand here, Snell said. They want to make sure the K-12 system can produce the future workforce.

    TREO will be focusing on improving regionalism, educational achievement and infrastructure, and reducing the “talent gap” over the next five years, Snell said.

    “Logistics is one of our top targeted industries,” he said. Snell said he supported the County’s proposal for Interstate 11 west of the Tucson Mountains, which would capitalize on our location between the ports of Long Beach, Calif., and Guaymas, Sonora, and the rest of the country.

    He also said the community needs to support efforts to bring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter here to ensure the future of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Training Wing.

    “We’re going to have a BRAC (Defense Base Realignment and Closure) by 2015,” Snell predicted. “We could be on the chopping block.”

    Pima County provides $500,000 a year to TREO to support its regional economic development efforts.

    The Pima County Workforce Investment Board is authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor and appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to provide recommendations on local workforce policy and oversight of the Pima County One-Stop Career Center. One-Stop connects eligible job-ready youth, adult and dislocated workers with employers in local growth, high-demand industry occupations. It includes representatives of local businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions.