Our View: It sounds like such a great idea, it’s difficult to believe no one has thought of it before. Build a new research institute dedicated to a poorly recognized bedrock of the Arizona economy — the aerospace industry.
It sounds like such a great idea, it’s difficult to believe no one has thought of it before. Build a new research institute dedicated to a poorly recognized bedrock of the Arizona economy — the aerospace industry.
Locate it near a business anchor with plenty of growth potential, some place like Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport, and near an existing enterprise that already emphasizes hands-on innovation such as Arizona State University Polytechnic.
Convince industry leaders such as Boeing, Honeywell and Raytheon to invest in a collaborative development to keep pace with global competition for technology upgrades. Watch as this facility attracts other aerospace companies to the East Valley and fuels the creation of new businesses based on its discoveries. Become a national and international hub for research in a field that is only gaining in importance.
In concept, the Arizona Aerospace Institute is an incredible prospect for Mesa and the future community to be established by DMB Associates at the 3,200-acre GM testing site. The idea for this “transformational investment” got its start from efforts by House Speaker Kirk Adams, R-Mesa, to convince Boeing to not move its Mesa research and manufacturing facilities.
The notion started to take off after Mesa leaders realized the pending relocation of an Air Force research lab could make available 300 scientists with unmatched training and experience.
Over the past 18 months, Adams, ASU and Science Foundation of Arizona have put together an advisory board filled with aerospace movers-and-shakers and people with plenty of political influence. There’s every reason to believe this group could launch a world-class facility that would elevate Arizona’s aerospace industry into the stratosphere.
There’s a big catch, of course, and that’s how to pay for it. In a meeting Friday with the Tribune, backers of the proposed aerospace institute wanted to postpone that question. But these supporters are making comparisons to the Translational Genomics Research Institute, which came about only after former Gov. Jane Dee Hull cobbled together a $100 million funding package by tapping state agencies and universities, Phoenix city hall and nonprofit foundations.
Such sources couldn’t possibly make a similar commitment today, no matter how smart this concept might be. That’s means a strategic plan that the advisory board will develop over the next six months will have to start much smaller and should focus on gathering resources from those who would benefit the most — the aerospace industry itself.