Only a Matter of Time Before Raytheon Moves its MDHQ Out of Tucson

Raytheon headquarters [Photo courtesy Raytheon]

In 1987, the mighty agri-biz & consumer foodstuffs giant, ConAgra, gave its historic hometown, Omaha Nebraska, a ‘Come-to-Jesus’ civic wake-up call; “get your urban act together or we’re outtahere.” The Omaha elite got busy, started taking names and kicking-ass, and turned it around. At least for ~30 more years; CA moved its focused HQ operations to Chicago in 2016.

Tucson will not be so fortunate with its #1 private employer, the globally-connected, armaments & technology behemoth, Raytheon.  Raytheon quickly moved its Missile Division Headquarters (MDHQ) to Tucson in early 2020, prior to moving its entire corporate HQ to the Washington DC Metro from Waltham, Mass. this year.

I can make the case Raytheon will move its MDHQ out of Tucson at the earliest opportunity, along with some significant pieces of its critical production processes.  The reasons?  Same ones I gave in If Woke Tucson Can’t Perform, Remaining Big Employers Will Leave.   It will become breathtakingly obvious to Raytheon executives, after crunching their own personnel data, and realizing the talent base just won’t be sustainable.

They will be joining past big employers like IBM, Burr-Brown, Texas Instruments, and many other sub-sub contractors who finally realized Tucson is a passive, desultory & luring oasis in the Southwest, but with bitter alkaline water.

It doesn’t have to be this way; but to avoid it, radical changes in the nature, outlook, and functions of local “leadership” will be needed.  I catalogued just the basics (and they’re really minimal in civic terms) in Tucson’s Flawed Institutions Fail Its Metro’s Potential.

Notwithstanding its critical role in the Ukraine War, but with the FAR LARGER aspect of a multi-trillion $$$ “Space Economy” set to commence, expecting the Raytheon MDHQ  to stick around is genuine municipal naiveté, writ large.   Furthermore, believing the self-serving PR swill from the University of Arizona’s meager (compared to major tech universities) space efforts won’t cut it either.  Time to get realistic about what UA really does bring to the table compared with others.

Tucson’s hidebound elite seems to think, “if we just yap-it-up with more meetings, [local] print PR, and conferences, it’ll [somehow] happen by osmosis.”  Yeah right.  Places in Texas, Alabama, and Colorado are throwing Ben Franklins at your nickels, dimes, and quarters.  They have more national political stroke in DC, and make their local academic, political, and ‘Woke’ bozos toe the line.  Tucson can’t even fix its road, street, and transportation messes, let alone its broad poverty & crime problems, while nearly ~40% of its Metro is unincorporated in corrupt Pima County, and its largest Pub-Ed system is a bloated government jobs scheme, a la the notorious Albuquerque Public Schools.  Gimmeabreak!

Sorry, I’m taking odds the Raytheon MDHQ is going to be leaving, the minute they see the incentives & conditions from those places that have investigated Tucson, and are more in keeping with the kinds of talent they need to attract, and the urban conditions in which that talent seeks to work & grow, play, and raise a family.

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

About Opinion By Bill Sellers 79 Articles
Sellers is a South Park Republican who lives in incorporated Oro Valley. His background is federal tech-transfer commercialization. Contact him at 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 which elected numerous conservatives. He has lived in the SouthWest & PacNorthWest more than 40 yrs.


  1. With Mark Kellys Chinese supported “Balloon outfit”so near by and having the potential to spy on Raytheon who could blame them.

  2. Well the lefty nimbys have been trying to close anything down that is not on their teams playlist. They have tried for years to close Hughes/raytheon, the air base and whatever else that doesnt meet the things they think are important. I dont know how they continue to build houses and empty malls here since there really is NO ECONOMY locally. At one time the whined about needing a rail system to East LA so tucson could be like santa fe to albuquerque, except there were no takers for such a boon doggle, so they built a trolly instead. Many small companies as noted in the article have come and gone and if they do get raytheon to move or the base to close down this town will be a ghost town in no time IMO. The graft of the local politician is immense but they can be bought for the cheap and this is at all levels in AZ gov’t. Just look at the 2 current senators one outright lies as to how ‘good and caring’ he is, the other sells her soul for campaign funds, the 1st is totally worthless and the 2d has some possibility but has lost much credibility.
    Where is catapillar who was to come to town, havent seen or heard of them in several years, the bean cannery that PC proclaimed was coming and never did, slime fast came and left in what a 2 year period? It used to be the 5 c’s were gonna make a liveable tucson, but they are also gone
    We need QUALIFIED people to lead and so far NONE HAVE stood up to try. All that supports tucson/PC now are all government related fed, state, local remember they had no idea on how they would survive when they pushed to be ‘baja az’ because they couldnt come up with another playlist. This time if ya VOTE, THINK 1st not just party line which has been the fact in the past.

    • CAT is downtown in a new building Rio Nuevo built for them, with some ‘clawback’ provisions if they leave. They were very surprised & not happy at the locals’ (incl Mayor RR & the CBD, Center for Bio-Diveristy) extreme opposition to mining, and have only done minimal investment in PimaCo. CAT’s another that could leave, along with Roche Tissue Diagnostics & Honeywell.

  3. Tucson is an ancient Indian word meaning “Truck stop”, and that’s fine with the local demigods, because gosh darn it, we like being a slum built in a wash.

  4. guess the question is ‘what brought HOWARD HUGHES here’ he was crazy and wanted a desolate place to live… how about a huge bombing test area of the desert to try out the flight characteristics of all the stuff they make? How about great flight weather – multiple bases that can function as training bases against each other in combat flight training – ground level super sonic flight training areas ; it’s crowded in many places with lots of unknown weather ; not so much here where that is very predicable for the most part. Maybe HQ will move – but not much has stopped this Air Force Defense plant from doing what they do, build it and they will come – and Tucson is full of rocket scientists of all types – engineers from everywhere is what professional Tucson is.. making them all move now- maybe – but I’ll bet they stick around in some form for some time – for sure beyond my time. The local government – just plain ol generic blah D blah; useless blind trash – can’t build a ballpark or a hotel.. but we have a great overpriced trolley that can’t turn right but you can stop and get a tattoo – if it were not for the UA this place would blow away.

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