Pima County sends message to foreign investors: stay away - Inside Tucson Business: Guest Opinion

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Pima County sends message to foreign investors: stay away


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Posted: Friday, October 8, 2010 12:00 am

People keep asking why is Tucson and Pima County’s economy in such rotten shape?

There are obviously many reasons, such as the inability of local political and business leaders to speak with one voice to assist new companies in creating high paying jobs here.

But there is another message coming out of Pima County that is especially troubling in regards to economic development.

If you are a foreigner, stay away with your money.

Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, a rabid opponent of the Rosemont Copper mine project, keeps harping on the fact that the project is being funded by foreign companies.

Not long ago, Rosemont Copper announced it had landed a bunch of money for the project from a Korean company.

Carroll and other mine opponents immediately trashed the idea of foreigners putting money here.

If you were a foreign company or investor, and read stories coming out of Pima County that your money is not welcome here, what would you do?

Scratch Pima County off your list of good places to invest your money.

It clearly appears that part of the campaign against Rosemont Copper is to drive away foreign investment in that project.

Is that really a smart way to oppose a project no one in Tucson or Green Valley will even see?

The community has a richly deserved reputation of being hostile to virtually any kind of new development.

Given a choice of where to put their money, domestic and foreign companies have to think twice about even considering Pima County.

Fortunately — or unfortunately if you are Ray Carroll — one cannot relocate the copper deposits in the region. That we have mineral wealth here would be seen by many as a huge advantage for economic growth because a company cannot pack up the copper deposits and move them somewhere else.

We don’t have to sell our souls to have mineral development in the region. We could say “yes we want to develop these resources as long as important environmental issues are addressed.”

But instead, we have the NIMBY sector of the community saying “no way” and “stay away” and attacking the fact that people from other countries want to invest here.

Meanwhile, Republicans are also sending a strong message to visitors from Mexico to stay away with their money.

We can’t attract investment capital to our region if we are afraid of folks from other countries and we are afraid that foreign owned corporations can’t behave in our community in responsible ways.

Corporate xenophobia is bad for our economic development.

Contact Hugh Holub, an attorney who works in real estate development, public utility, water and environmental law, at HughHolub@msn.com.

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