“Economic development” is a catchphrase in Arizona, but the town of Sahuarita plans to construct a tech center to put a foundation behind the idea.
The town will build the $4 million Sahuarita Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center, called SAMTEC, on vacant land. It has already attracted two companies to occupy the center on a lease, beginning in 2019.
It will rely on a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
It will join the University of Arizona's Tech Park and other tech centers in the metro area, but it won't amount to competition, said Bruce Wright, associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona.
“This really broadens the opportunity for us to both grow and attract technology companies,” Wright said.
It also provides the opportunity for the two local businesses that will inhabit the center when it opens to remain local. Hydronalix and Control Vision are looking for similar high-tech robotics and engineering companies to join them.
Hydronalix has 22 employees and is poised to grow, said Anthony Mulligan, president and CEO.
"The new center is going to be a milestone for us to grow tremendously," he said.
Control Vision President and Owner Daniel Crawford said his company is bursting at the seams, and his next three hires may have to sit in hallways because he's running out of space. That's a sign of growth, but it also illustrates his eagerness to move into a bigger space, he said.
The news comes as another effort to boost small businesses into medium-sized businesses loses federal funding. Find out about that, and more, in this episode of Metro Week:
Sahuarita Businesses: Two businesses in Sahuarita will be the first to move into a new tech and manufacturing facility there. We visit Hydronalix with Anthoyny Mulligan and Control Vision with Daniel Crawford to find out what tech products they make, and what they’ll get out of moving to the new facility.
Sahuarita Tech Center: Victor Gonzalez is the economic development director for the town of Sahuarita. He explains how the town made plans and got funding the Sahuarita Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center (SAMTEC). He says it is an important step on the town’s goal to no longer be a bedroom community where people commute to other places for work.
Startup Tucson: Startup Tucson is losing federal funding to help entrepreneurs develop their businesses. We visit a Tucson business called R Bar that makes energy/snack bars. The owner, Brian Cornelius, went through the Startup business incubator program and explains how that helped get the business off the ground. The CEO of Startup Tucson, Justin Williams, talks about the services it can provide without this funding.
Analysis: The director of Tech Parks Arizona, Bruce Wright, explains the regional impact of adding a tech center in Sahuarita on the overall efforts to encourage economic development. He also shares what options small businesses have now that Startup Tucson has lost funding for its mentorship program.