Tucson: Where Solar, Optics and Innovation Shine

Located only 60 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona. With a population near one million residents, the metro area is host to private and public employment, including the roughly 50,000 students and employees at the University of Arizona (U of A), a highly-ranked public research institution founded in 1885. Davis-Monthan Air  Force Base is located within the city limits, employing approximately 8,500 civilian and military personnel.


Blessed with the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert and an unsurpassed climate of 360 sunny days a year, Tucsonans embrace a rare lifestyle. Traveling from the valley floor to the 9,157’ Mt. Lemmon summit via a national Scenic Byway traverses seven of the world’s nine life zones. It is one of a select few cities boasting a ballet company, professional theater, symphony, and opera company. The community’s rich cultural heritage contains a unique blend of Native American, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American influences, evident in Tucson’s architecture, arts, entertainment and dining.

Greater Tucson has been dubbed “Optics Valley” for its concentration of firms and strength of the U of A program. More broadly, the region hosts and is building emphasis on biotech and other science clusters in the UA Tech Park, BioPark and Innovation Park, branding under the moniker, “Science City.”

Leisure and tourism represent key economic drivers for Tucson, with world-renowned health spas including Miraval and Canyon Ranch, 20 golf courses and numerous natural attractions, museums and cultural heritage.

Population & Age

Census data from 2010 placed Pima County’s population at 980,263. Arizona is the nation’s seventh-youngest state. The median age in the City of Tucson is 32.5, according to the 2010 American Community Survey.


More than 489,600 people are employed in Tucson’s civilian labor force. An estimated 1,200-plus high-tech businesses employ 50,000 people.

Tucson Regional Economic Indicators 2012


  • May 2012 – U.S. News and World Report “2012 Best High School Rankings” places two Tucson high schools, University High School and BASIS Tucson, in the Top 10 Best High Schools nationally
  • May 2012 – Two Tucson tech startups, MSDx Inc. and HJ3 Composite Technologies win Arizona Innovation Grants
  • May 2012 – Tucson named No. 1 outside bike town by Outside Magazine
  • August 2011 – Business Facilities Magazine named Tucson No. 6 on its list of the top 10 metro areas for aerospace/defense manufacturing
  • Summer 2011 – Research firm Headlight, LLC, ranks Tucson No.2 Medium Metro on its list of “Best Performing Metros”
  • February 2011 – Time rates Tucson as one of eight Intelligent Cities
  • May 2010 – Forbes ranks Tucson as one of America’s Most Innovative Cities
  • April 2010 – Tucson “The Solar City,” featured in Business Facilities Magazine April 2010 cover story
  • March 2010 – Sunset ranks Tucson as one of its “20 Best Towns of the Future

Barbi Reuter PICOR Tucson Commercial Real EstateBarbi Reuter, RPA oversees Cushman & Wakefield | PICOR’s operations, research, finance and marketing/social media activities, liaises with the global services platform, and serves as Associate Broker. One of 13 company Principals, she is active in industry and community leadership, through such organizations as Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Greater Tucson Leadership, Arizona Town Hall, and board work for the Tucson Girls Chorus and PICOR Charitable Foundation. 

Sources: City of Tucson, Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, DM50, Moody’s, Arizona Daily Star, University of Arizona, TREO.

Photo Credits: Ambalux, Lyn Sims 

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