Arizona: Rural Destinations

Major Industries

AGRICULTURE

  • Arizona’s top five agricultural commodities by market value include vegetables ($764+ million), dairy products ($762+ million), cattle and calves ($700+ million), greenhouse/nursery ($315+ million) and cotton ($224+ million). (2012 Ag Census)
  • Arizona’s food and agricultural exports exceeded $1.4 billion in 2014; major categories include cotton, fresh produce and dairy products. (Trade.gov)
  • Arizona’s farm land encompasses 26.2 million acres. (U.S. Census)
  • Of the 19,600 farms in Arizona, more than 16,000 are in the state’s 13 rural counties, accounting for 85 percent of the state’s agricultural base and 80 percent of the $3.2+ billion market value of Arizona’s agricultural output in 2007. (U.S. Census)
  • Arizona ranks second in the U.S. in head lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, cauliflower and broccoli production. Yuma, Arizona is the winter lettuce capital of the world, supplying 90 percent of the country’s winter green leafy vegetables. (University of Arizona)
  • As a leading cotton grower, Arizona’s cotton farms generate enough cotton to produce 100 million pairs of jeans— or enough for 30 percent of the U.S. population. (National Cotton Council)

NATURAL RESOURCES


Mining

  • Arizona’s copper mines produce 65 percent of all U.S. copper, and the state is the sixth-largest producer of copper in the world. (Arizona Mining Association)
  • There are 27 major mines in Greater Arizona producing copper, gold, lime, uranium, coal and cement. Combined, these mines account for a $4.87 billion impact on the Arizona economy and are responsible for 51,800 jobs direct and indirect jobs. Direct mining jobs paid an average annual wage of $115,000, compared to $51,000 for all Arizona workers. (Arizona Mining Association)

Potash

  • The Arizona Geological Survey estimates that there are between 682 million and 2.27 billion metric tons of potash in the Holbrook basin of east-central, Arizona; in total, the U.S. has a total of 6 billion tons of potash.
  • Potash mining in northern Arizona has the potential to produce up to 2.5 billion tons of potash, a vital crop nutrient that supports the world’s agricultural, food supply and mining markets. Potash also is used in a wide variety of industrial applications, including metal electroplating, producing oil well drilling fluid and aluminum recycling.

Forestry

  • With more than 2.4 million acres of pines in four national forests, northern Arizona is home to the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest on the continent. (Northern Arizona University)
  • As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the potential for reintroducing industry into the forests is significant. Among the most promising forest-based economic development opportunities is the biomass sector, which uses the byproducts of forest management to produce bio-based products including lumber, composites, furniture, ethanol and energy feedstocks.

AEROSPACE AND DEFENSE

  • Arizona is a leader in the country’s aerospace and defense industry, and communities in Greater Arizona are significant contributors to the state’s A&D sector. Nearly six percent of the state’s gross product can be attributed to A&D, the third highest concentration in the nation. 
  • More than 52,000 of the state’s jobs are directly attributable to the A&D sector, totaling more than 150,000 when accounting for the multiplier effect of indirect and induced jobs generated by this sector.
  • In 2014, Arizona’s A&D exports were valued at $3.23 billion, the 9th highest among all states. Additionally, the exports:
    – directly support 17,400+ export jobs
    – amount to 15.3 percent Arizona's total exports
  • Greater Arizona is a significant contributor to Arizona’s leadership in A&D. There are an estimated 1,600 direct A&D jobs in Greater Arizona, creating an additional impact of more than 6,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs.
  • In 2013, transportation exports outside of Phoenix and Tucson totaled $749 million and were 20 percent of the state’s exports in this category.
  • Yuma is currently home to the Marine Corps Air Station which will be the location for the Operational Testing and Evaluation Squadron for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, an initiative that has been 3 years in the making with over half a billion dollars invested

Military Assets

  • Arizona’s military bases account for nearly 100,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs and output of $9.1 billion.
  • Key missions include munitions training, intelligence, unmanned aircraft systems, artillery testing, vehicle testing, air training, electronic warfare and others. Five military bases are located in Greater Arizona, representing a significant share of the total statewide economic impact of Arizona’s military assets:
    • Greater Arizona’s military installations include Fort Huachuca, Marine Corps Air Station—Yuma, Yuma Army Proving Grounds, Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range and Camp Navajo Garrison Training Center.
    • Fort Huachuca accounts for $2.4 billion in annual economic impact for the state of Arizona; Yuma Proving Ground accounts for $425 million annual economic impact, and Marine Corps Station—Yuma accounts for a $500 million annual economic impact.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Training/Testing Leader

The Arizona Test Range Complex (AzTRC) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems draws upon the abundant and distinctive strengths of Arizona, combining multiple range locations in Greater Arizona into a comprehensive range complex. The AzTRC leverages the state’s diverse geography, vast airspaces, 340 days of VFR flying weather, air traffic control experience of unmanned flying operations by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, expertise of the UAS Research Consortium, and the collaboration of academia, industry and government:

  • The world’s largest UAS training center, located at Fort Huachuca, has trained and certified nearly 12,000 members of the military in UAS operations over the last decade. The training center supports more than 20 programs of instruction, operates 24 hours a day, and flies more than 5,000 hours per year.
  • Greater Arizona is home to a Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott, America’s top-ranked aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical college.

ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS

Greater Arizona is home to some of the world’s leading observatories that contribute to national security, global navigation and scientific discoveries:

  • The University of Arizona’s Mount Graham International Observatory draws scientists from around the world to conduct advanced research in astronomy and astrophysics.
  • The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope is situated on Mount Graham, where Vatican scientists research planetary sciences, stellar astronomy, extragalactic astronomy and cosmology.
  • The Heinrich Hertz Sub-millimeter Telescope Observatory, jointly owned by the University of Arizona and the Max Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (Bonn, Germany) is sited at Mount Graham International Observatory. This sub-millimeter wavelength radio telescope is one of the world’s most accurate radio telescopes. It explores sub-millimeter wavelength astronomy, considered by some to be the last wholly unexplored wavelength frontier.
  • The Large Binocular Telescope, also at Mount Graham, is the world’s most powerful telescope, one of the world’s most advanced optical telescopes, and the world’s largest single-optical telescope. The Large Binocular Telescope represents a major breakthrough in astronomy, providing images 10 times sharper than those from the Hubble Telescope. The Large Binocular Telescope’s light-gathering power enables astronomers to observe extremely distant and faint objects such as ancient galaxies and quasars that will assist in unraveling the evolutionary history of the universe.
  • Established in 1894, the Lowell Observatory is one of the oldest observatories in the nation. Scientists at Lowell discovered Pluto in 1930.
  • The United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NFOS) is the national dark-sky observing station for the U.S. Department of Defense, providing optical and near-infrared astronomy. Located at the Lowell Observatory, the NFOS is also the official time keeper for the U.S. Department of the Navy. Its science provides protection oriented services for all branches of the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • The Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer is located at Lowell Observatory’s Mesa Anderson Station, providing space imagery and astrometry that allows for the safe positioning, navigation and orienting of the world’s orbiting satellites.

VINEYARDS AND WINE

  • There are three established wine grape-growing regions in Greater Arizona, with more than 80 bonded wineries and 1,000 acres of planted vines. (AZ Wine Association)
  • There are nearly 40 licensed tasting rooms in Arizona that generate nearly 140,000 visits annually. (AZ Wine Association)
  • At Yavapai College, plans are underway to create the Southwest’s premier academic center to support the wine industry and prepare qualified professionals in viticulture and enology. Yavapai College offers formal coursework in viticulture and in 2013 added enology and began planting its 17-acre estate vineyard.
    • Additional plans call for a sustainable teaching winery, which will produce 3,000 cases annually. Housed in a repurposed structure, this teaching winery will establish a teaching model for sustainability in the wine industry.
    • Among the sustainable features: net zero for water usage; provision of sufficient natural light into the working areas to operate during daylight hours without the need for artificial lighting; and a planned photovoltaic array that could make the winery net zero for electricity.

BIOSCIENCE AND LIFE SCIENCES

From leading edge research in genomics, biodefense and public health, to best-in-class health care, bioscience and life sciences are flourishing in Greater Arizona:

  • TGen North, the Translational Genomics Research Consortium, is working on ground-breaking epidemiologic research related to pathogens important to medicine, public health and biodefense.
  • Medical device manufacturing is 64 times more concentrated in Greater Arizona’s Flagstaff community than anywhere else in the nation because of the long-time presence of leading firms in this sector, including W.L. Gore & Associates, the creator of GORE-TEX® and other innovative, life-saving products.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

Arizona is a world leader in the renewable energy sector, and many solar and hydroelectric power installations are located throughout Greater Arizona. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Book ranks Arizona second among all U.S. states in photovoltaic energy generation:

  • Total renewable electricity installed across the wind, photovoltaic, biomass and hydropower facilities in Arizona equated to 4,843 MW in 2013.
  • In 2006, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). These rules require that regulated electric utilities must generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025.
  • Utility-scale solar generating installations are located or being built in Mojave County (340MW CSP), Maricopa County (300MW PV), Kingman (200MW CSP) and Picture Rocks (100MW PV). (Solar Energy Industry Association, 2015)  
  • Wind-power installations in Greater Arizona include the Dry Lake Wind Farm, located in Navajo County. The existing Phase 1 and recently completed Phase 2 generate 128 MW of power from 61 wind turbines. This windpower facility represents Arizona’s first turbine-powered, commercial-scale wind energy project. Additionally, a new wind-power installation—Red Horse Wind Farm—is under development in Cochise County, where 26 wind turbines will generate 50 MW of power.
  • Nova Power LLC purchased a former biomass plant in northern Arizona; the new enterprise will convert forest-thinning byproduct into power, producing at least 24 megawatts of power for Arizona’s utilities.
  • The Willcox Greenhouse GeoThermal Well uses a 4,000-foot-deep well to tap geothermal water to heat its greenhouse operations.