Raytheon Missile Systems

Employment, jobs and payroll. In the end, that’s what every business is about.

When a new business opens, its impact on the economy can often be directly linked to the number of employees it hires. And in Tucson, the need for new jobs is on the top of every politician’s mind.

Like most municipalities around the country, most of the top employers in Tucson are government entities. But there is one exception consistently at the top of the list.

Raytheon, which builds missile systems and a lot more for the military, has consistently ranked either first or second in the city with employment hovering around 10,000 people.

And at Raytheon, the jobs aren’t just any jobs. Filled with engineers, military specialists and thousands of factory-line workers, Raytheon also pays very well and offers top benefits.

It’s no wonder both the city of Tucson and Pima County have publicly made protecting Raytheon and allowing the business to expand one of the top priorities for the local government entities.

Year after year, Raytheon and the University of Arizona are at the top of the employment listings. In 2014, the university edged to the top. But with budget cuts forced by the state Legislature, the positions could flip flop in 2015.

David-Monthan Air Force Base, Pima County, the U.S Border Patrol and Tucson Unified School District add to the government presence at the top of the list of employers. But Walmart, Fry’s and several healthcare operations bring the private sector back into the loop.

And then there are a few surprises.

Tucson Electric Power, which has no government affiliation, has close to 1,200 employees in Tucson and almost 4,000 in the region. Asarco, which primarily mines for copper, has more than 2,000 employees in the region, although the company admits its employment numbers have slipped in recent years.

And somewhat surprising, a couple of real estate companies have also moved to the top of the list. Long Realty has more than 1,000 employees in the Tucson area and Tierra Antigua Realty has more than 700 employees.

The picture these companies paint together is one of hope and promise in the economy. Despite trying times, the private sector has begun to rebound. Jobs are creeping back, and even real estate companies have survived and thrived since the recession of 2008.

These companies also have similar stories. They started small, persevered and grew into the giants they are now. Year after year they added jobs, made improvements and became more valuable to the Tucson economy.

More jobs are always needed, good jobs especially. But as these private sector companies show, there is hope.