Tucson lands new firms

June 15, 2004

By hammersmith

Tucson has added a handful of new bioscience-related outlets in recent weeks with the announcement of a new VA pharmacy, the relocation of small optics and pharmaceutical firms, and plans to build a new cancer center.

VA Pharmacy: A mail-order pharmacy of the Department of Veterans Affairs will soon be built in south Tucson, and could employ up to 200. The pharmacy will be one of seven facilities in the nation that provide mail-order prescription services, together reaching more than 3 million veterans. Construction will get underway this summer on the 80,000-square-foot facility, and is expected to be completed in December.

Spencer Ralston, associate director of the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, told the Arizona Daily Star that the facility will initially employ about 100 pharmacists and technicians. Salaries will range from $70,000 to $90,000 for pharmacists and $27,000 to $43,000 for technicians.

Optics firm: A growing high-tech optics manufacturing, research, and development firm from Santa Fe, N.M., will begin operations in Tucson on July 1, according to the Tucson Citizen. Optical Insights, rated the fastest-growing tech firm in New Mexico, has applications in agricultural inspection, food safety, drug discovery, temperature measurement, and eye examinations. The firm currently has seven employees.

Cindi Vernold, the company president, said Tucson offers a larger, more qualified labor pool.

“We have been having difficulty because we can’t attract people from outside New Mexico to come to Santa Fe,” Vernold told the Citizen. “Tucson has larger population than Santa Fe, and there is a two-year degree program for optics technicians at Pima Community College.”

Pharma: A small pharmaceutical firm, ProlX Pharmaceuticals Corp., signed a seven-year lease on a 6,500-square-foot office near the University of Arizona, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The company will renovate the facility to add laboratory space, a scarce resource in Tucson. The firm, which announced plans to move to Tucson from Pittsburgh in 2002, develops drugs that fight cancer by inhibiting the activity of proteins that prompt tumor cells to grow.

PlolX has four employees and is expected to grow. It has been using temporary space at the Greater Tucson Economic Council and lab space at UA.

Cancer Center: The University Medical Center announced plans to build a cancer center on the site of the old Tucson General Hospital. The facility will offer a one-stop center where cancer patients can see physicians, receive care, and have access to resources such as cancer research, support groups, and other services, according to UMC Chief Executive Officer Greg Pivirotto in a statement mentioned in the Arizona Daily Star. Tucson General, vacant since 2001, will be demolished this summer and fall as the master plan is developed. Construction will begin next year, with the center’s first phase scheduled to open in spring 2006.

For more information:

Cancer center will go up at Tucson General site,” Tucson Citizen, 06/03/2004

VA pharmacy to create 100-plus jobs in Tucson,” Tucson Citizen, 05/27/2004

Tucson getting VA pharmacy,” Arizona Daily Star, 05/27/2004

Young optics firm relocates to Tucson,” Tucson Citizen, 05/21/2004

Pharm firm lands in Tucson,” Arizona Daily Star, 05/13/2004