New report says that Rio Nuevo is improving - Tucson News Now

New report says that Rio Nuevo is improving

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A new independent audit of Rio Nuevo, which came out Tuesday, said that the district is doing a better job with our money.  But it said that the Tucson Convention Center needs more money than Rio Nuevo has for improvement.

An independent review by Johnson Consulting out of Chicago, done for the state, said that the new Rio Nuevo board "has significant performance improvement" over the past, which in those times brought federal investigations and revealed hundreds of millions of dollars spent with no accountability.

Now, the main mission of Rio Nuevo is improving the Tucson Convention Center.  Even the out of state independent firm said that the TCC needs more than what Rio Nuevo will ever have in funding if the center will be competitive as a world-class destination.  Figures from $40 million to $100 million were mentioned.

While the intent of Rio Nuevo was to use our state tax money in downtown Tucson to spur investment and development to help the economy, for some, that seems to be happening.  A travel program was expected to show Wednesday night at Sacred Machinery Museum to showcase Tucson.  The museum owner remembered when downtown was not a destination.  She said that things have come a long way downtown but that improvements like to the convention center must not be forgotten.

"You know it's just part of being in a big city.  We need to start acting like a big city and treat downtown Tucson like a big city.  And, you know, embrace it, give people a reason to come down here," said Paula Catherine Valencia, owner of Sacred Machine Museum. "I think they can.  I think they can.  But I think it is going to be a lot of it is going to be just keeping them accountable."

As for the Tucson Convention Center, Rio Nuevo chair Fletcher McCusker said that he'll be meeting with the city and county about how to pool resources if they're going to bring the TCC up to speed.

For the full audit analysis, click here.

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