Twenty-two visiting Mandela Washington Fellowship recipients introduced themselves during the city council meeting Tuesday. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A senior vice president assured the Maricopa City Council that the Greater Phoenix Economic Council was getting participants a 7-to-1 return on investment.

The council agreed Tuesday to continue a relationship with GPEC by spending $27,825 for its regional economic development program.

In a wide-ranging evening that involved a visit by Mandela Washington Fellowship recipients and a signing of thank-you cards for Maricopa’s first responders, the council advanced some efforts to boost economic development.

Brad Smidt, VP of business development for GPEC, said his organization had been instrumental in bringing major employers to the area.

Councilmember Henry Wade requested specifics.

Smidt acknowledged the new businesses were “not specifically in Maricopa” but did set up in surrounding communities. He used Tractor Supply in Casa Grande and Continuum Business Park in Chandler as examples.

When Wade asked what the city can do differently in the next few years to get businesses into town, Smidt highlighted the need for infrastructure.

Maricopa, he said, has to “have investment areas ready to go.”

Members of the Maricopa City Council Peggy Chapados, Henry Wade, Marvin Brown, Bridger Kimball and Mayor Christian Price sign cards for the Maricopa Police Department and Maricopa Fired Department to express their gratitude during a July 19 meeting. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Members of the Maricopa City Council Peggy Chapados, Henry Wade, Marvin Brown, Bridger Kimball and Mayor Christian Price sign cards for the Maricopa Police Department and Maricopa Fire Department to express their gratitude during a July 19 meeting. Residents can drop by City Hall to sign the cards for first responders until Aug. 15. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said more companies are looking for build-to-suit opportunities. That seeming trend is behind the city’s attempt to create the Estrella Gin Business Park. That is planned as a build-to-suit complex on 51 acres off of an Edison Road extension that does not yet exist.

To alleviate that situation, the council approved four contracts on Tuesday’s consent agenda related to extending Edison Road to State Route 238. That involved up to $4.6 million for a construction contract with Achen-Gardner Construction, a $340,000 agreement with Electrical District No. 3 for lights and power along the road, up to $44,695 for the EPS Group for construction inspection services and a $24,000 addendum to a contract with Ninyo and Moore for material testing services.

Achen-Gardner is expected to begin construction in August. The project may take about nine months. The city had wanted to have the business park in place more than two years ago, but ran into roadblocks, especially the road itself.

“It’s frustrating at times,” Mayor Christian Price said of the city’s efforts to attract businesses. “You spend dollar A and get result B. Economic development is the hardest thing to deal with.”

Price said it is important that Maricopa take a regional approach to development. Participating in GPEC, he said, is part of that. The $28,000 contract, he said, provides “a lot of bang for the buck.”


The Mandela Fellows spent time with Maricopa city government recently and on Tuesday introduced themselves to the council. Twenty-two Mandela Fellows participated in the Young African Leaders Initiative.

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