Blog Posts Tagged ‘economic-development’

Mesa City Manager Chris Brady

Mesa City Manager Chris Brady at "Celebrate Mesa" event with wife Shawna and daughter Whitney

Mesa City Manager Chris Brady at “Celebrate Mesa” event with wife Shawna and daughter Whitney

At the Arizona City/County Management Association’s Winter Conference Awards Ceremony, Mesa City Manager Chris Brady  was awarded the John J. Debolske Award, the highest honor that ACMA bestows upon an active Arizona city or county manager.  The namesake of the award, Jack DeBolkse, was the Executive Director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns for 40 years, and was an advocate for the council-manager form of government.

Chris was recognized for his 25 years of service to the local government profession, and most notably his outstanding accomplishments in Mesa by partnering with the Mesa City Council, city staff and our residents in creating transformational projects to build a better Mesa.  As city manager, Chris steered Mesa through some of the most difficult economic times in recent history.  He made certain that Mesa would be in a stronger position to progress during and after the recession. Even during these times, in 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013 the city was successful in having Mesa voters approve bonds for public safety facilities, utility infrastructure, streets, parks and cultural facilities to enhance the lives of Mesa residents.

Mesa has recently achieved great economic development success in extending light rail through downtown Mesa which will open in 2015 with another 2-mile extension planned to open in 2018;  recruited five liberal arts colleges to Mesa,  housing some of them in once vacant buildings; retained the Chicago Cubs and just opened the new Cubs Spring Training Complex and adjacent spectacular Riverview Park;  came to an agreement with the Oakland Athletics to rehab the Cubs former stadium so they can begin Spring Training in 2015; and brought an Apple manufacturing facility to Mesa. Through Chris’ leadership, these successes have gained Mesa national and international recognition as being tactically bold and forward thinking.

Chris was also recognized for creating a leadership pipeline, fostering the next generation of local government leaders and ensuring the future success of the city of Mesa by developing all levels of the organization. Chris regularly meets with college students to share his expertise, has created internship and full-time employment opportunities for recent college graduates, created the Executive Manager Program which rotates four city employees per year through the city manager’s office, and regularly shares Mesa’s best practices with other communities at national and state conferences.

“This is an incredible and unexpected honor.” Brady said, “I have devoted my professional life to public service and my experience in the city of Mesa over the last 8 years has been both challenging and rewarding. The community, city employees and elected officials have worked hard to bring many successful projects and initiatives to fruition.”

Goodyear to Provide Space for ASU Entrepreneurship Program at New Library

When the new Goodyear branch of the Maricopa County Library system is completed near the end of this year, it could include space for the business leaders of tomorrow to work and brainstorm through a partnership in an incubator program with Arizona State University.

During the Goodyear City Council work session on July 8, Tracy Lea, Venture Manager at Arizona State University’s SkySong incubator center unveiled its Alexandria Model, a program that is planned inside an approximate 1,000-square-foot room in the new Goodyear branch library to serve as an entrepreneur and innovation center for those pursuing ideas and business projects.

City leaders were excited to see the presentation for the program, which will help to provide entrepreneurs the tools, resources and mentors to get on the pathway of development. Goodyear City Council will vote on finalizing the agreement with ASU and the county for the center sometime after it returns from its summer break next month.

“We appreciate SkySong because we know of its successes,” Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord said. “I’ve heard of and seen the successes there, and we look forward to having our successes here.”

Having a business “incubator” in Goodyear is one of City Council’s initiatives and the city’s Economic Development Department has been working with SkySong in south Scottsdale to make center a reality in Goodyear for six months.

SkySong’s Tracy Lea said the center also could have a military focus.  Luke expects to see $260 million of construction over the next decade and other support businesses are expected to open with the arrival of the F-35A fighter pilot training program next year.

During the meeting, Lea said, “The Alexandria Concept will create a wonderful pipeline for development.  “It’s been extraordinary working with this group of people in this city, and I believe this is such a rich environment for this to take flight. The West Valley has some amazing growth right now. Goodyear is creating a terrific growth pattern in and of itself.”

The library, budgeted at $1 million, will include 9,600-square-feet that will feature a 1,600-square-foot multi-purpose room in addition to the 8,000-square-feet of library space.

The library will replace the current one at North Litchfield Road and Van Buren Street.  Design work for the new library is on schedule to be completed by the end of July and construction beginning as early as August.

Glendale’s Future Economic Development Plans

Westgate Entertainment District just landed its largest office tenant since opening seven years ago. Memphis-based pest-control company Terminix will open a call center in October, bringing an estimated 250 to 300 employees. Read more about the city’s new economic development plans below.

The City of Tempe & The City of Chandler’s Efforts in Economic Development

Great things to look forward to in the city of Tempe and the city of Chandler. There are two articles below featuring future economic development plans for each city. Read how these developments will impact their communities and create more opportunities for citizens.



Cottonwood Business Assistance Center

BAC outdoor photo

By Casey Rooney, Economic Development Director

The city of Cottonwood Business Assistance Center (BAC) has been successfully servicing the needs of local businesses for over 2 years. The BAC is a partnership between the city of Cottonwood, the Northern Arizona Council of Governments, Yavapai College and local businesses. The city Economic Development and IT Departments are located at the BAC. The Cottonwood Economic Development Council (CEDC) also calls the BAC their home office. The CEDC is a private, public economic development partnership.

The BAC provides business consulting services. A typical person might enter our doors looking for information regarding opening a new business. We will sit down with this person(s) and discuss their concept. Their business concept will often times lead us to work with our customer to develop their business plan. Sometimes, training needs are identified. Regular training classes are conducted in subjects such as QuickBooks, excel, Photoshop, and general business development. You could consider the BAC as a business connection service where we connect the business with the resources they need to move forward. Between all of our partners we have access to an amazing amount of creative business consulting talent.

In addition to mentoring businesses, we provide office space on a short to medium timeframe. A budding business can come in, occupy an office, and use our technology such as computers, Wi-Fi and printers for business purposes at little or no cost for an hour or an entire day. We have several business housed in our facility for 6-12 months. We charge a modest fee to longer-term occupiers of office space. We have incubated and graduated several business. These businesses leave our facility and move into the commercial office market where they pay market rate for their new space. Our facility is designed to help startups with every advantage they need to start and be successful. The process works!

The city of Cottonwood took the lead, working with the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization to develop a revolving loan fund to help support our BAC clients. One business recently borrowed $150,000 and another deal is about to close for $50,000. Between these 2 BAC client businesses we are creating approximately 35 jobs. That’s economic development!

The BAC can also be categorized as a virtual incubator. Home based businesses use our very professionally appointed board rooms to conduct business. Rather than meet clients at home they can use the BAC for important and strategic face-to-face meetings.

We presently house four full-time businesses in the BAC. One of our businesses is actually two businesses in one office with the same owner. Jamie Fulmer is the CEO of Fire Mountain Wines and Blue Stone Strategy Group. Jamie will be opening a wine tasting room shortly in Old Town Cottonwood. His Blue Stone Strategy Group is a business consulting company where the primary clients are tribes located throughout the United States and Canada. His consulting company employs approximately 20 high level business consultants. His story is a success story.

The wine industry is an emerging industry in Arizona and Cottonwood is the economic center of activity in the Verde Valley. The Verde Valley Wine Consortium (VVWC) is a trade association for the local wine producers, tasting rooms, etc. VVWC is headquartered at the Business Assistance Center.

All of the companies that graduated out of the BAC and all the present companies located at the BAC continue to be successful. That is a pretty good batting average.

Gilbert Recognized as First Arizona Economic Development Organization Accredited by IEDC

By Gilbert Staff

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) announces that Gilbert, Arizona has been recognized as the first Arizona economic development organization, the second municipality and one of just 35 economic development organizations in the nation accredited by IEDC as an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO).

“The Gilbert Office of Economic Development displays the professionalism, commitment, and technical expertise that is deserving of this honor,” said IEDC President and CEO Jeff Finkle.

The AEDO program is a comprehensive peer review process that measures economic development organizations against commonly held standards in the profession. The program consists of two phases: a documentation review and an onsite visit. Each phase is designed to evaluate information about the structure, organization, funding, programs, and staff of the candidate economic development organization.

Earning the AEDO designation tells the community and prospects that the Gilbert Office of Economic Development has attained a measure of excellence assuring that their trust is well-placed and their business is in good hands.

“In Gilbert, economic development is not an afterthought,” said Mayor John Lewis. “It is at the forefront of the community’s strategic plan in which all employees play a role in the economic development effort. The AEDO designation reinforces Gilbert’s commitment to ensuring excellence in all of our business practices for our community, clients and our stakeholders.”

“As a business leader in the town of Gilbert, I’ve had a number of opportunities to work with the Gilbert Office of Economic Development and have always found them to be excellent partners in economic development,” said Todd Werner, CEO of Banner Gateway Medical Center and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Banner Gateway Medical Center and Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center understands that by having a strong municipal partner that knows our business needs and our industry trends are paramount in today’s global business environment.”

Gilbert’s attainment of the AEDO designation could not have been accomplished alone. State and Regional partners including the Arizona Commerce Authority and Greater Phoenix Economic Council as well as business ambassadors including Banner Gateway Medical Center, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ernst & Young, Heliae, Howard S. Wright, LGE Design Build, Maricopa Community College District, Orbital Sciences, Salt River Project, and Unicon contributed to Gilbert’s achievement.

“Congratulations to Gilbert’s economic development team in its steadfast pursuit of receiving this distinguished designation – the first AEDO designation for the state of Arizona,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority. “This announcement is a testament to Gilbert’s ongoing commitment to best practices and continues to highlight Arizona’s commitment to excellence in economic development.”

“As the Gilbert Delegate to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council Board of Directors, I am pleased to have been part of Gilbert’s IEDC AEDO accreditation process,” said Ron Butler, Arizona Managing Partner of Ernst & Young. “The AEDO certification is a milestone for both Gilbert and the state of Arizona. Gilbert’s dedication to achieving the highest standards of excellence through the process is a testament to the community’s desire to be collaborative, innovative and truly best in class.”

Maintenance of the AEDO status is required every three years and is accomplished through documentation submission and/or onsite visits by a team of the AEDO subcommittee.

The Town of Marana Providing Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability to Residents

By Todd Henderson, Utilities Management Assistant

In May 2009, the town of Marana implemented Cartegraph software, an asset management system that gives staff the ability to track the condition and value of assets and create a proactive work management and inventory control system. This system gives the town the ability to create an enterprise-wide asset management tool that increases efficiency and transparency.

The Utilities Department began implementing Cartegraph by creating a work management system while Public Works simultaneously started collecting and rating town assets. One year later, the roles were switched; Utilities collected all of its assets and Public Works created a work order system. Both departments kept track of every asset’s maintenance history by attaching work orders to the relevant assets in the system.

Four years later, the town is realizing significant savings by virtue of proactive maintenance schedules versus reactive response. An example includes the Pavement Preservation Program adopted by the Town Council that was created from the numbers generated by Cartegraph’s pavement rating system. This program assists the town in identifying and scheduling treatments that preserve roads years past their normal lifespan and saving the town millions of dollars.

A fully implemented asset management system that tracks labor, equipment and materials saves municipalities money and provides efficiency, transparency and accountability to residents. This type of progress and innovation is reflected in the town’s strategic plan and is one of the driving forces behind Marana’s success.

The City of Glendale’s Efforts in Economic Development

The city of Glendale’s economic development efforts have initiated exciting new projects for its citizens to look forward to.  Specifically, St. Joseph’s Westgate Medical Center is under construction in near the Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue. The $44 million Dignity Health facility is scheduled to open in early 2014 with phase one including a 60,000 square-foot hospital on 35 acres with an emergency room, 24 inpatient beds, two operating rooms and diagnostic services.

The city also welcomes ZyTech Building Systems, a Canadian company that chose Glendale for its first US headquarters after working with GPEC and the Arizona Commerce Authority.  ZyTech, located at 8205 N. 67th Avenue, is a provider of roof trusses, floor systems, wall systems and lumber packages to home-builders and contractors for track housing, custom homes, multi-family, commercial and large span projects.

In addition, North Glendale is home to the new Arrowhead Cadillac which is currently under construction at 83rd Avenue and Bell Road.   The 55,000- square-foot luxury car dealership is a $16 million investment by the Van Tuyl Group, Inc., which provides management consulting services to the largest group of privately held dealerships in the United States.

The city’s economic development continues to better the community and the environment for its residents and local businesses.

Flagstaff’s Economic Development Program Supporting Responsible Growth

By Sean Ahern, Economic Development Manager

This month’s focus for the city of Flagstaff’s Economic Vitality Division is economic development. The economic development program is housed in Community Investment and staff is located at City Hall. Community Investment along with the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport and Convention and Visitors Bureau make up the “business outreach side” of city hall, and are all economic drivers for our community. Economic development staff’s primary focus is to retain and strengthen existing businesses, while helping to grow and attract new, innovative businesses for our community’s economic health and sustainability.

On a national level, the competition for jobs has never been more competitive. Many traditional regional employment opportunities have declined in the past decade due to outsourcing, technology and changing consumer habits. Historically, California has been the place for innovation and business growth California’s innovative businesses well trained and educated workforce, progressive college system, and access to global transportation hubs have created tremendous wealth, jobs and successful businesses throughout the Golden State. Fast forward to today when the business climate in California has become increasingly unfriendly with increased taxes, aging infrastructure and stiff regulation making many business owners consider relocating to a more business friendly state. As taxes, regulation and costs have increased in California, so has the competition from surrounding western states to attract California businesses to their respective states.

Texas, Utah, Nevada and Arizona compete daily on attracting California businesses to their state. Additionally, a number of multi-national and east coast companies wish to locate their expansion operations in affordable states neighboring California because of the high costs associated with California. Businesses with these needs play a very important role in Arizona’s attraction efforts because of our proximity to California, talented workforce, available land, access to markets and overall business friendly environment.

In Flagstaff, city economic development staff work closely with the Arizona Commerce Authority and our regional partner the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA), to market and attract businesses to the greater Flagstaff area. Flagstaff has always had an identity problem in clearly articulating perception versus reality with business owners and investors outside of Northern Arizona.  Flagstaff is often thought of as a sleepy, mountain town with little in the way of commerce and innovation. The city and its partners are working hard to change that image while supporting responsible growth; through a new imaging campaign, using market analysis tools to statistically show the power of our market, offering site tours to business owners interested in learning more about Flagstaff’s business climate and increasing connectivity with key stakeholders across the region.

Recently, the city worked with ECoNA’s business attraction team to attract and eventually locate IML to Flagstaff. IML is a multi-national plastic manufacturer who was interested in expanding to the west coast. The city of Flagstaff competed against 10 cities for IML’s business; ultimately the city of Flagstaff prevailed as IML’s choice because of our proximity to California, workforce, quality of life and professional response to IML’s needs during the selection process. Currently the city is working on a number of potential locates that would provide high wage low impact jobs to the community, many of these coming from California.

Flagstaff is the economic engine of northern Arizona, and attracting new businesses is only part of the economic cycle. Retaining, expanding and supporting the needs of existing businesses are extremely important in protecting our local economy and financial security. Our neighboring states are not only looking to California for new businesses, they are also looking at Arizona companies. Recently Flagstaff lost Southwest Windpower, and their high paying engineering and manufacturing jobs to Colorado. Protecting and growing established industries and providing assistance to newly established companies is where the economic development staff spends a great deal of time.

Staff provides assistance to local businesses through a number of channels. Recently a “business assistance kiosk” was developed at City Hall that provides: one-on-one needs analysis, planning and design review, incentive and grant overview, market and demographic analysis, workforce and business advocacy.

A great example of the advocacy and assistance that is provided to the community is the recent receipt of a $100,000 rural grant award from the Arizona Commerce Authority for the continued expansion of Joy Cone, a low impact high wage employer. Joy Cone came to the city with a need to expand their operations by decommissioning their aging incinerator and building an additional batter room that would require five new employees. Joy Cone is leveraging the $100,000 rural grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority with $900,000 of their own capital for a $1 million dollar expansion project. This is the third year in a row that the city of Flagstaff has successfully partnered, assisted and managed the rural grant program with T-Gen North, Machine Solutions and Joy Cone.

As business advocates the city’s economic development team help a number of businesses with everything from custom one-on-one needs analysis assistance to helping established businesses navigate city hall. Visit us online at to learn more about our services for the entire business community.



Marana’s Strategic Plan to Lead and Promote Innovative Thinking

By Curt Woody, Economic Development Manager

The town of Marana adopted its strategic plan in 2008 and updated it in March 2012 to provide Town Council and staff with a guiding document and flexible tool to lead and promote innovative thinking. The strategic plan provides initiatives and action strategies that challenge us to find specific ways to attract and maintain career-oriented commerce. The town implemented two policies in 2012 that reflected those initiatives. The first was a joint venture between the Marana Chamber of Commerce and town management to collaborate on a business retention program that involved onsite contacts with more than 600 businesses. These businesses were surveyed to identify the positive and negative aspects of conducting business within the town. The sign code ordinance was identified as an area that needed improvement. As a result, there are portions of the code that are being revised.

The Marana Job Creation Incentive Program was the second policy adopted to address the economic development initiatives. Originally approved in 2010, the program was revised and reintroduced last November. Reducing the requirements from a $2 million investment and 25 new jobs to a $1 million investment and 10 new jobs (salary of $40,000 a year or more) broadened the scope of the program. The company may apply for rebate of the construction sales tax generated by this investment to be spent on any number of six elements identified within the program.

The town of Marana strives to create and identify best practices that complement the guiding principles within our strategic plan. This culture of excellence is prevalent in all departments and aspects of the town’s goals.