If Woke Tucson Can’t Perform, Remaining Big Employers Will Leave


When we moved to Albuquerque in 1980, the following big technology & defense companies had, or were building, major facilities in the ‘Duke City’:  Siemens, Honeywell, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, GE Aircraft Engines, DEC-Digital Equipment Corp., Intel, Phillips-Signetics, Lasersonics, Ranchers Exploration (mining).  By close-of-business 1995, ALL WERE GONE, save for one—Intel, who’s FTE headcount was reduced by 80%.  Ditto, dozens of smaller suppliers.

What happened?  In 1 word: “Culture”

It wasn’t the remoteness, or the utility expense, it wasn’t for lack of complementary infrastructure, it wasn’t for lack of military or federal R&D spending, or a lack of test facilities, it wasn’t the income or property taxes, the housing choices or the overall transportation matrix, certainly not the incredible climate, the incredible scenery, the incredible mountains, or amazing cultural diversity, etc.

People didn’t want to live there because it went to crap.  And word was out; it got more & more difficult for the bigger companies to find and keep good employees or managers.  For 5 years, I had a ringside seat to this slow rot, as a board member of the NM Association of Commerce & Industry.

The ‘culture’ had turned against them; urban ugliness was everywhere, unmaintained roads, streets, buildings decaying rapidly in the desert, urban filth & trash, crime and a lack of public safety skyrocketed as liberal and/or corrupt judges turned-on the revolving doors.  “Breaking Bad”, filmed exclusively in Albuquerque a few years later, got its own free giant film studio, matching its nihilistic theme.  Such-a-deal!  Art imitates life. Municipal government became an exercise in who could summon up the greatest victimhood.  Boo-hoo.

As the big employers closed, local government employment ballooned, on the back of the state’s expanded, (and breathtakingly anti-business) gross receipts tax (outlawed in AZ).  New Mexico became 2nd in the nation in per capita local government employees.  And they’re heavily unionized; NM is not a right-to-work law state.

Albuquerque Public Schools became an obscene, morbidly-obese monstrosity, so large it had its own caucus of elected edu-crats in the NM Legislature.   A survey of those companies that left, done in the late 1990’s, pointed to this exact education phenomenon as a critical & major reason for leaving.  Employees making good salaries didn’t want to send their kids to crap public schools that were just government job schemes.  But the Albuquerque culture would never allow APS to be broken up.

And yet, this was the exciting & dynamic city that just 20 years before, had attracted a young Bill Gates and Paul Allen to found Microsoft there in 1975.  How wild is that?

So, whodunnit? Answer: the Hard-Left.  They tailored their victimology message to the New Mexico Latino culture, emphasizing xenophobia (Outsiders!) and a fatalistic passivity (Que será, será).  Unlike truly great American Latino cities, i.e. San Antonio, Miami, San Diego, others (even a regenerated El Paso)…. Albuquerque went inward; it ceased to look outward and embrace the future.

If Tucson doesn’t think this can happen to them; they need to re-read my piece on the rapidly changing demographics here.

Sellers is a Southpark Republican living in incorporated Oro Valley; his background is federal technology commercialization

About Bill Sellers 68 Articles
Sellers is a South Park Republican who lives in incorporated Oro Valley.  His background is federal tech-transfer commercialization.  Contact him at readbill19@usa.net Sellers is also a grad of Clemson’s Architecture School and the University of NC School of Business. He was a founding member of the Albuquerque Friday Morning Breakfast Group (’82-’96) which elected numerous conservatives. He has lived in the SouthWest & PacNorthWest more than 40 yrs.


  1. It seems to me that ya’ll are beating the wrong horse. Yes, the City of Tucson is run by radical Dems, but that city is physically small and it’s borders are basically built out. No, the NIMBY attitude isn’t all from Tucson, the County government is at least as anti-business and the well off residents in the foothills, OV, and Marana aren’t volunteering their neighborhoods for massive traffic either.
    Here’s your Tucson reality…
    Tucson is just 100 miles from a kick-@$$ business megalopolis.
    Call it the Blob, the Valley, or just Phoenix (my favorite), Tucson just can’t compete.

  2. You didn’t mention the primary reason why so many tech jobs left ABQ: global outsourcing. Jobs were sent to India, China, Taiwan, Russia, Czech Republic, etc…

  3. So Mr Sellers is actually a contributor to the decline as a board member for his NW Industry group. How can we trust his view on things here when he either contributed to the decline in NM, or let it happen.

  4. Mr Sellers’ experience in Albuquerque and New Mexico has been eye-opening to me. No wonder in my quest to find a home, I’ve been advised to stay away from New Mexico! what a disaster.
    And although Phoenix seems to have a somewhat decent outlook – if you take away the leftist city council and the MBOS – the presidential “election” farce spotlights huge problems here.
    The absurd leftist ‘mindset’ present in the PTB in Tucson will prove the town’s doom. No wonder when I look on Zillow, it seems all of Tucson is ‘for sale’ – its been that way for several years.

  5. This has been tucson for years, but to begin with there never were any large business’s in the area. As a kid I remember them saying we dont need business we have the sun. They thought it would continue with dud ranches and low level minute mart type business for ever. People could have jobs as maid in hotels (which have also basically disappeared) and be happy. The 5C’s didnt matter (cotton, cattle, copper, climate, citrus). But they have managed to drive them all away with pc type regulations and the supposed care of the poor and down trodden. Yes I am a native, I am 74 years old and I remember seeing them drive out motorola who owned at the time most of the north side of town. They wanted to open a manufacturing plant for electronics up that way, the NIMBY’s said no way. take it down south and we can commute there! Well they did. they went to nogales (dont think there there anymore and probably finally overseas). They drove out some others which I cant remember, but I do know one was a well known nationally regarded gunsmith. I think he finally went to the dakotas. burr-brown is another that went away, and they have tried to drive DM away. Can you visualize the ghost town this would be if that happens? Lose DM and then Hughes at same time, although the bone yard would still be here just no AD people. As it is now dont know where all the traffic is going to/from or who can afford the housing being built since there is no real economy except for local gov’t job at Ua, tusd etc.
    The street in front of my house has not been repaved in over 30 years and they are slow to fill the pot holes even, yes it is an older neighborhood, but when the crooks dont care what do you expect?

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