Tags Articles tagged with "economic development"

economic development

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

DR Horton was granted an amendment to its planned area development in lots 1 and 8 in Tortosa for coverage increase.

Chop Block & Brew opened Aug. 7 at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino with dining and a lounge. It seats 159 and serves lunch and dinner.

In a capital-improvement project, Fire Station 574 received a permit for installation of new evaporative system in the bay at a cost of $100,000.

Walmart made interior alterations to replace fitting rooms and relocate an apparel fixture and added power to the fitting rooms. The project was valued at $20,000.

Suite D8 of Maricopa Fiesta at 20924 N. John Wayne Parkway, a former veterinarian office, received a permit to be modified into an open white shell at a cost of $32,000. The required demolition also received a permit.

The overpass project on State Route 347 at the Union Pacific Railroad tracks received a hauling permit. Ames Construction is the primary contractor.

Community of Hope Church applied to install a new fire alarm system at 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave.

True Grit received a general fire inspection for a planned bike event in September that may include a beer garden.

DRH Construction received a permit to turn a home garage into a sales office at 36878 W. Maddaloni Ave. in Sorrento.

Cobblestone Fiesta Center, Sorrento and the City of Maricopa all received permits for new signs. Burger King opened its doors at 20699 N. John Wayne Parkway. Along with Ross Dress for Less and Great Clips at The Wells received permits for temporary banners.

Verizon and AT&T received zoning permits to modify existing cell towers.


This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

The last five months of the fiscal year showed steady growth in Maricopa’s business activity. The city reaped more than $1 million each month from January through June and easily outpaced last year February through June. City Finance Director Brenda Hasler said that coincided with construction and the opening of more retail outlets. Edison Pointe, in particular, boasted new builds and six new openings to generate more sales tax for the city.

In fiscal year 2017-18 (Graph 1 in green), Maricopa took in $12.5 million in transaction privilege tax, often called sales tax. The previous fiscal year, the total was $11.2 million. Retail and construction continue to be the city’s highest earners.

As shown in Graph 2, the FY18 total is the highest for Maricopa since before the recession. The city has a way to go before returning to those money-generating highs. In FY08, the city collected $18.7 million in sales tax.

 

This item appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Taylor Earl talks to the Board of Adjustment about plans for an IHOP. Photo by Michelle Chance

The newest breakfast chain to express interest in serving up business in Maricopa appeared in front of a city board Wednesday afternoon at City Hall.

But, before planning department forwards the project for city council approval, representatives for the International House of Pancakes requested changes to a few of the city’s design requirements. The full-service, 4,764-square-foot restaurant is planned on the southwest corner of the Edison Pointe retail center.

A possible opening date was not discussed.

The Board of Adjustment heard arguments from IHOP representative Taylor Earl of Earl, Curley and Lagarde, a zoning and land use law firm in Phoenix. Earl requested the Board approve design changes that affect the restaurant’s proximity to nearby roadways, as well as the number, location and transparency of windows.

Earl said special circumstances warranted variances to certain commercial building zoning codes.

The layout of the 1.18-acre parcel of land where IHOP plans to open is “quirky,” according to Earl.

A large drainage channel, existing “monument” signage and public utility structures contribute to IHOP’s request to build the structure farther from Edison Road and John Wayne Parkway.

Rodolfo Lopez, senior planner with the City of Maricopa, said zoning code requires businesses to build close to main roadways.

Large, transparent windows aid in visual appeal, Lopez added. “Its purpose is to promote an environment through architectural and urban form design,” Lopez said.

The parcel, through the city’s zoning code specifications, would frame John Wayne Parkway and “celebrate” the building’s architecture.

Earl argued the parcel’s topography and shape make that difficult.

The westside features a sloping property line, and its northeast corner includes a “notch out,” or irregular shape, Earl said.

IHOP wants to limit the number of windows the city requires, mostly because of where the building would be situated on the parcel. Future patrons will enter the restaurant on its north end, nearest its parking lot.

Earl explained the kitchen will face south toward busy Edison Road.

The city prefers those windows exposed to roadways be transparent in an effort to embrace “people viewing” and window shopping, Lopez said.

However, Earl argued a clear view inside the kitchen and other back-of-house operations goes against the aesthetic intent incorporated in city zoning codes.

Earl also said current zoning would compromise the structure’s integrity and argued a need for fewer windows.

With those changes, the IHOP rep said the new eatery will still be easy on the eyes.

“I can tell you that this architecture is very well designed,” Earl said.

Board members passed IHOP’s requests in a 5-1 vote, with Vice Chair Thaddeus Holland opposing.

IHOP is asking for variances from the city code.

After the developer hinted months ago about a breakfast-oriented restaurant being interested in Edison Pointe, a major player is making early steps to build.

On behalf of IHOP (International House of Pancakes), the Romulus Restaurant Group has applied for a variance at the location at 20595 N. John Wayne Parkway.

Aug. 22, the city’s Board of Adjustment will host a public hearing for comments on the requests. The company is seeking a reduction in the maximum setback requirement and a variance of the code requirement of transparent windows. The board is then set to take action on the requests.

The meeting starts at 4 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

The IHOP chain is celebrating its 60th year in business, founded in July 1958 in California. It now has 1,650 locations. It is a subsidiary of DineEquity.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Dutch Bros. received a variance from the City’s Board of Adjustments July 17 to change the maximum setback on the property on John Wayne Parkway north of Fast & Friendly Car Wash where it plans to build a store. Tom Glissmeyer, director of development for Via West Group, said the existing water easement on the property was an impediment to complying with the setback standard. The variance increased the maximum setback 168 percent and places the front of the building more than 67 feet from the property line.

 Ross Dress for Less, ahead of its July 21 opening, installed a low-voltage, anti-shop-lifting system at the front door of its store at 205951 N. John Wayne Parkway. The store also received a permit July 16 for four signs with internal LED illumination.

Daycare owner Marie Garcia, 43595 W. Chambers Court, passed fire inspection June 27.

KB Home received a permit June 20 to remodel a home garage at 18174 N. Christopher Drive into a temporary sales office. The project is valued at $10,000. KB Home also received a permit for sales/construction office at 20209 N. Lauren Road in Homestead and picked up a temporary-use permit for its model home complex at 20181 N. Lauren Road.

An empty office space at 20924 N. John Parkway is being re-worked, with Desert Metropolitan receiving a permit for interior demolition. The work is valued at $7,800.

Jiffy Lube, being built at 37306 W. Merced St. west of Walmart, had a flow test for its underground fire line and hydrant June 27.

EdKey Inc.’s Sequoia Pathway Academy received the OK June 28 for factory-built modular classroom buildings at the campus, 19265 N. Porter Road. The classroom space is estimated at 62-by-70 feet with electric but no water or sewer. The project is valued at $30,000.

Community of Hope continued its remodel at 45295 W. Honeycutt Ave. with July 11 permits for remodel and relocation of factory-built building of three modular buildings, valued at $20,000.

Burger King, 20699 N. John Wayne Parkway, received a permit June 19 to install a fire alarm for its business, which opened July 21. July 17, it was granted a permit for eight grand-opening pennants to be in place until Oct. 16.

Legacy Charter’s new Sunrise Preschool received a permit July 3 for a fire alarm panel and smoke detector for its facility currently under construction at 19287 N. Porter Road. The project also received a permit for plywood signs on wood posts.

WingStop, to be located at 20555 N. John Wayne Parkway, received a permit for two internally illuminated wall signs, at a value of $2,388.

Maricopa Wells Veterinary Hospital was given approval July 5 for a temporary banner to be in place until Sept. 11.


This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

 

For those concerned with the status of development around Maricopa, the city’s Economic Development department is taking efforts to the next level.

The Maricopa City Council approved a $150,000 expenditure Tuesday to hire a customer analytical firm to help design and execute a plan to draw businesses to the city.

Council approved the $50,000 a year, three-year contract with the Buxton Company to provide “retail attraction data and psychographic profiles and resources” to assist in strengthening and executing a development strategy.

According to Buxton’s director of sales, Parker Key, the company specializes in a tedious analytical assessment to help private and public entities understand consumer trends and, more importantly, which businesses should be targeted.

“We go through this process of matching your community to a database of over 5,000 companies that we’re constantly studying,” Key said.

Simply put, Buxton acts as a type of filter, which, according to Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart, is a beneficial tool to increase the efficiency of economic development efforts.

“We’re not necessarily being strategic,” Airheart said. “We’re going after what is hip, hot, what we’d like to see, what we hear from our residents, what [council] tells us.”

That approach, she said, means the city could be “pursuing retailers that are perhaps not growing in the market, so it could be wasted efforts.”

Vice Mayor Peg Chapados expressed a supportive but critical sentiment toward the expense – “A partnership that we need to take a close look at but will be worth it in the long run.”

Councilmember Marvin Brown, who ultimately voted to approve the expense, echoed the Vice Mayor’s concerns, citing a contract the city had with Buxton 10 years ago.

“I can recall vividly in 2008 when a similar presentation was given to us… and I expressed to [council] at that point that I don’t think Maricopa had evolved enough and was mature enough to award an $80,000-dollar contract to Buxton,” Brown said. “And as a result, I was right, we got zilch out of that study.”

All on council voted to approve the contract, except councilmember Vince Manfredi, who felt the “considerable” growth Maricopa had experienced in recent years was done without Buxton, and the tool was ultimately just being hopeful.

“I’m not much of a hoper,” he said. “I hear flowery stories all the time and how well things can work for us. Then a year later, or two years later, I’m wondering why we spent $200,000 on something.”


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Photo credits: 1 David Durst; 2 Raquel Hendrickson; 3 Michelle Chance; 4 Vincent Manfredi; 5 submitted; 6 Jonathan Williams; 7 Raquel Hendrickson; 8 file; 9 file; 10 file.

Most-read stories related to business and economic development:

  1. Props 416/417 approved by county voters

Voters approved a countywide transportation project scheduled to begin next year. Unofficial results from November’s election showed Prop 416, Pinal County’s Regional Transportation Authority, passed with 57 percent approval. Prop 417, the half-cent sales tax that would support the transportation projects, also passed, albeit by a slim margin of less than 1 percent. Phase 1 of the RTA includes the widening of State Route 347 from four lanes to six lanes up to the county line as well as an east-west corridor.

  1. APEX and City Hall win in court, so far

Controversial legal battles brought forth by a political action committee and a Maricopa resident this summer challenged a conditional use permit approved by the city for the elite racetrack APEX Motor Club. The petitions aimed to stop construction of the track proposed on a parcel at the northwest corner of State Route 238 and Ralston Road. Courts threw out the resident’s suit for “lack of standing” and denied the PAC’s appeal in September.

  1. Maricopa job fair brings 45 employers to applicants

Hundreds of applicants arrived dressed for interviews this summer during a job fair hosted by Arizona@Work Pinal County. The event was held at the Maricopa Unified School District Administration Building and featured 45 employers.

  1. Firestone replacing Fletcher’s after acquisition

Fletcher’s Tire & Auto Service in Maricopa was one of 31 stores in Phoenix and Southern Arizona that became Firestone Complete Auto Care earlier this year. The local store moved into Maricopa Fiesta plaza in 2005 and began converting to Fletcher’s in April.

  1. Plans for Maricopa hospital on ice

Although Dignity Health announced it would build a hospital here in 2012, Maricopa is still without one five years later. The company bought nearly 19 acres on the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke roads with the intention of building a 34,800-square-foot emergency facility and hospital by 2016. The land has sat untouched since.

  1. Developer pitches apartments to council

Affordable, multifamily housing could solve Maricopa’s rental gap, according to apartment developer Englewood Group, which intends to develop apartments in the city. Construction of the proposed complex is still years out, however, as re-zoning could take until the summer of 2019. The city conducted a housing-needs assessment earlier this year, revealing a need for diverse housing options.

  1. Breakfast diner under construction, seeks employees

An opening date for the 4,041-square-foot Denny’s diner is still unknown, but as workers continue to construct the building, the company has advertised opportunities for job applicants. The restaurant is located near the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Smith-Enke Road. Construction began in September.

  1. Peñascos closes after 11 years

The quiet closure of a family-owned restaurant in Maricopa sparked surprise reactions among residents in September. The building’s landlord said the “tenants abandoned” the building, but Penascos owner Rosalinda O’Hare disputed that. O’Hare said a variety of factors contributed to her decision to close the doors to her business, which opened more than a decade earlier.

  1. First gas station not on John Wayne Parkway approved for development

What will be the third Circle K in Maricopa received recommendation for a development review permit from the Planning & Zoning Commission in September. The 5,881-square-foot convenience store and gas station is planned on 1.8 acres at the southeast corner of Honeycutt and Porter roads.

  1. Residents await Edison Pointe

The 130,000-square-foot retail development broke ground at the end of July along State Route 347 and Edison Road, shortly before losing one of its larger prospects, Petco. It’s estimated Edison Pointe will create at least 100 jobs for Maricopans with confirmed businesses Ross, Goodwill, WingStop, Planet Fitness, Brakes Plus, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts and a nail salon. Stores are scheduled to open in early 2018.


This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.



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The Ak-Chin Industrial Park Board and Nice Creative have won a Golden Prospector Award and the City of Maricopa has earned a Golden Prospector Award of Merit from the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED), recognizing excellence, innovation and creativity in economic development.

The Ak-Chin/Nice Creative collaborative was honored for its “Santa Cruz Commerce Center Website.”

The LeaseAkChin.com website was created to encourage inward economic development investment in its industrial park, Santa Cruz Commerce Center, and to promote lease opportunities in other Ak-Chin-owned commercial buildings. The website builds its business case with a featured video, an impressive list of benefits, articles, testimonials, maps, research and more.

“We want to thank Nice Creative for their continued hard work and dedication in communicating the Community’s economic development opportunities,” Ak-Chin Industrial Park Board Chairman Charles Carlyle said. “Because of its diligence, Ak-Chin is attracting more inward investment interests that will help diversify our industry and promote our self-sufficiency.”

Nice Creative President Robin Reynolds was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the IPB and Nice Creative. “It is my great honor to help elevate prospects for the Ak-Chin Indian Community,”  Reynolds said. “I have a passion for bringing greater economic opportunity to tribal communities.”

The city of Maricopa was cited for its multimedia promotion, “Shop Local – Copa Bingo.”

Copa Bingo is an annual component of the city’s Shop Local Program. Played like traditional bingo, consumers visit local businesses and receive stamps on the appropriate business category. Once a row or column is complete, players can enter to win weekly prizes. Players learn about the variety of goods and services available in their community.

Overall, 10 Golden Prospector Awards and seven awards of merit were presented at AAED’s fall forum in Prescott Oct. 27.

An economic development mechanism received an updated agreement with the city Tuesday.

During a regular meeting, City Council voted to approve the new $125,000 agreement with the non-profit Maricopa Economic Development Alliance for fiscal year 2017-18.

The agreement is contingent upon several metrics that include MEDA having to maintain its private funding to the tune of $83,000. They also must increase media value by 10 percent and increase online exposure throughout the region.

According to MEDA, the organization will also continue to use online television spots to promote the city and help bolster a positive image and ultimately growth for the city.

Per their mission statement, “The Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) organization champions strategies and solutions that foster economic growth and prosperity in the city of Maricopa by bringing together the businesses, government, education and civic sectors to identify and advance forward-looking policies that facilitate investment, growth and workforce development.”

Other goals stated in the agreement include tackling flood plain issues, championing public education, helping prepare “shovel-ready” commercial and industrial property and improving the overall business climate.

MEDA claims to do this in a number of ways, the largest being support for the City of Maricopa’s efforts to bring businesses to the city through “deal-generating.”

MEDA Board Officers:
Chairman – William H. Stacy –– Electric District 3 – general manager
Treasurer – John D. Schurz – Orbitel – president and general manager
Secretary – James F. Kenny – El Dorado Holdings – president

Board Members:
Denyse Airheart – City of Maricopa Economic Development – director
Christian Price – City of Maricopa – mayor
Marvin L. Brown – City of Maricopa – vice mayor
Gregory Rose – City of Maricopa – city manager
Steve Chestnut – Maricopa Unified School District – superintendent
Jennifer Alai – Great Western Bank – Southern Arizona president
Brian C. Bernardo – Banner Health – senior director
Ron Fleming – Global Water – president
Bryan M. Hartman – Santa Cruz Ranch – president
Adam Saks – Ak-Chin Ultrastar Multi-tainment Center – general manager and COO
Bud Walters – Southwest Gas – Supervisor

Advisory Board Member
Lyle Frederickson – Great Western Bank – vice president

Vintage Partners Leasing Director Casey Treadwell speaks at the ceremonial groundbreaking for Edison Point July 31. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A project 10 years in the making hit another milestone Monday morning with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Edison Pointe, a commercial development south of Fry’s Marketplace, is scheduled to include Ross, Planet Fitness, Brakes Plus, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. The mayor, councilmembers, Vintage Partners Leasing Director Casey Treadwell and Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart participated in turning earth at the site where areas have already been prepped for foundations.

“We’ll be done with all of the main construction in February,” Treadwell said. “There will be some stuff that could actually open earlier.”

That includes Burger King, which is planned for the northwest corner of the property near Fry’s gas station.

“They’re way ahead of everybody else,” he said. “They’ve been chomping at the bit, but they’ve been very patient. They’ve spent a lot of money in order to go forward.”

Ross and other anchor establishments are expected to open in February and March. With a shared boundary, Vintage Partners has been coordinating with Fry’s during development.

“All of these properties are tied together in their agreements, so we had to maintain certain things for Fry’s,” Treadwell said. “In exchange for the help they’ve given us, we’re going to give them a little land so they can add another gas [island] at the end. It’s just a tiny piece.

“We had to get the property subdivided, which will happen next month.”

The property was planned for development in 2007 but became a victim of the recession. Vintage took over the project four years ago.

“We’ve all been waiting for this project for a very long time,” Mayor Christian Price said. “One of the things I think it’s important that everybody understands is how much work goes into a project like this… Just because you see this land sitting here, it doesn’t make it so easy to suddenly pop something out of the ground.”

Price said Vintage understands the community and what it wants.

“I’m excited to welcome these new retail amenities to the community because this is what keeps the residents here local and supporting these businesses,” Airheart said.

Councilmember Henry Wade praised Vintage for being “smooth and comfortable but impactful and effective.”

“I’m happy as a former Planning & Zoning commissioner to know that things actually do get done,” Wade said.

“When people ask us what cities we like to work with, Maricopa’s at the top of the list,” Treadwell said.

 

Vintage Partners is planning on breaking ground at Edison Pointe this summer. Photo by Mason Callejas

A long-awaited commercial retail project could be weeks away from breaking ground, according to both city officials and key players in the project’s development. The plan is to have a major clothing retailer, gym, multiple new restaurants and various other stores that could create 100 jobs or more in Maricopa by spring.

The dirt lot south of Fry’s Marketplace has changed hands a few times since the city slated the land for commercial development more than 10 years ago. Now, the area known as Edison Pointe is in the final stages of gestation, according to Casey Treadwell, leasing director at Vintage Partners the development group in charge of the project.

“After a lot of work and a lot of marketing over the past four or five years, we are moving forward with the project, pending our final construction loan approval,” Treadwell said. “We’re in line to have that in approximately three weeks, and we’ll start construction within a week after that.”

Despite losing one of its larger prospects – Petco – Vintage is hoping to commence construction at Edison Pointe by the end of July.

“We really hoped that we could get it done by the end of this year,” Treadwell said. “When trying to sign the leases for the tenants, which is required for the loan, we just kept running into roadblocks.”

The process of development is not an easy one, city Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said during a Maricopa Advocate Program meeting Thursday. Maricopa being so young and constrained in so many ways, it can be difficult, she said, to attract and solidify new development.

To Airheart, Edison Pointe is a milestone of sorts, which means job creation and economic growth. She praised Vintage for its efforts and willingness to take the chance on Maricopa.

“These guys [Vintage] have been aggressively trying to find tenants for the site,” Airheart said.

And, despite losing Petco, she said, “Vintage Partners believes in the project and believes that they will be able to attract another user to that site.”

There are still a few financial ducks to align before the project begins. However, both Treadwell and Airheart are confident in saying the project will soon be moving forward.

An exact date has not been set for groundbreaking. And though Treadwell could not speak to the opening of the individual businesses, he said Maricopans should be able to anticipate the project being completed in spring of 2018.

Signed tenants include Ross, Goodwill and Planet Fitness. Businesses in escrow for, or already in ownership of, property at the site include Dunkin Donuts, Brakes Plus and Burger King.

The lot south of Fry’s Marketplace has been slow to develop but now leases are being signed. Photo by Mason Callejas

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Nancy Smith. Photo by Mason Callejas

As Maricopa continues to grow, local leaders must grapple with the multifaceted and often erratic march of economic development.

To achieve economic sustainability, local governments, businesses and community leaders have developed a roundtable of sorts – the Pinal Partnership – where ideas can be discussed and projects can be developed to better serve all of Pinal County.

Recently, Maricopa City Councilmember Nancy Smith was appointed a seat on the Board of Directors at the Pinal Partnership, a position she hopes will help create prosperity for both the city and the county.

“Since there is no one from Maricopa on the list of board members, we need somebody,” Smith said. “So, I couldn’t turn it down, because we’re such a big part of Pinal County.”

The partnership, Smith said, will help the city attack some of its largest obstacles including transportation issues such as the widening of SR 347 and the redrawing of the floodplain.

Per its website, “Pinal Partnership was formed to bring together all the people and ideas that will ultimately lead Pinal County to its full potential.”

Smith said she appreciates the retail and food industries that thrive in Maricopa. However, she hopes to see healthcare support services and professional services also come to town, regardless of the transportation or floodplain issues.

Smith, who has served on the city council since 2014, works as a program manager for General Dynamics. She is in charge of making sure projects meet budgetary requirements, an aptitude she feels carries over to her political career as well.

“At General Dynamics, I’m responsible for making sure a program comes in on budget or under budget,” Smith said. For the city, she added, “that’s [also] my purpose.”

When Smith and her husband, former Maricopa Mayor and current Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith, first moved to Maricopa 13 years ago they didn’t immediately get involved in politics. Instead, they focused on their faith and working to promote their church – Community of Hope.

After the city gained its incorporation, the Smiths began focusing their political scope, closely following Maricopa’s first mayor and city council. Soon thereafter they became entranced with local politics and while her husband was mayor, Smith sat back and learned all she could about local governance.

In 2014 a two-year seat opened up on council, so Smith took the opportunity to get try out her political legs a bit.

“I thought, ‘that’ll just give me a taste of what it’s like, and I’ll be helping the community and serving the community as well,’” Smith said. “And, I fell in love with it.”

When offered the position at Pinal Partnership, Smith already knew Maricopa lacked representation in the partnership, thus making it an easy decision.

Other members of the board include Pinal County Supervisors Todd House and Steve Miller, Global Water President Ron Fleming, Apache Junction Councilmember Robin Barker, and the board’s chairman Jordan Rose of Rose Law Group.

Councilmembers and department heads mulled some of the challenges of creating economic development at a retreat May 9. Photo by Mason Callejas

As the city approaches its 14th birthday, officials are reaching for the stars, hoping Maricopa’s growth will not only accelerate but also happen in a sustainable fashion.

To achieve this, the city has engaged with a third-party consultant, IO.INC, to assess the city’s economic fortitude to ensure future development parallels the city’s 2040 Strategic Plan.

At a City Council retreat, representatives from IO.INC joined department heads, the mayor and city council to discuss their assessment and offer suggested plans of action to boost economic growth.

IO.INC’s president and chief strategist Ioanna Morfessis laid out the Economic Development Strategy for Maricopa she said was based largely on an analysis of “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats,” or SWOT.

IO.INC offered remedies, which echo the Strategic Plan, emphasizing three key objectives: improving city customer service to better support businesses, maintaining the assisted growth and sustainability and providing educational opportunities.

Customer Service

The city made it a point in the Strategic Plan to assist businesses of all sizes looking to open in Maricopa. Unfortunately, Morfessis’ assessment found some businesses license applicants were dissatisfied.

City Councilmember Vincent Manfredi said things are inherently easier for bigger businesses. Those with legal help know how to navigate the licensing and permitting process, he said, whereas smaller businesses that lack legal assistance have little idea of the process.

“Economic Development should hold their hands,” Manfredi said.

After a couple of anecdotes of bad customer service experiences, Development Services Director Martin Scribner said he was not aware of any such incidents, or he would have corrected them.

As much as he would like to help everyone, he said, some people just don’t get it. For some of these businesses, he said, “it’s not just holding their hand; it’s breast feeding.”

Continuing the metaphor, Scribner said “sometimes they just don’t take.”

Sustainability

Trying to avoid any potential boom-and-bust scenarios, the city has made multiple efforts to invest in long-term developments for both small business and the larger light-industrial sectors.

These efforts are apparent chiefly in the project at Estrella Gin Business Park and in the city’s support of the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, neither of which has seen success.

Several aspiring renters at the Estrella Gin Site have been reluctant, citing high prices. The cost was lowered to around $9 per square foot annually, but comparative light-industrial space in Chandler can be found for as little as $6 per square foot.

Would-be tenants have also cited higher-than-average utility costs in Maricopa as a reason they would not want to develop in the city.

Questions were raised during the retreat about the return the city has seen on its investment in MCE.

At the April 18 City Council meeting, MCE Director Quintin Baker provided an update of his efforts, which seemed to be more nuanced than precisely measurable. Since joining the organization in November, Baker believes he has made improvements in the review process and in tracking growth of client businesses.

Baker has not, however, been able to provide specific client growth data, nor has he been able to provide details regarding MCE distribution of small business loans funded by the federal M-Loan program issued via the city.

To the former, Baker said they are helping businesses develop systems to track their growth. Baker said the M-Loans are simply “being reviewed.”

Aside from a lack of concrete assessment, Councilmember Peg Chapados indicated further concern she had with MCE considering neither Baker nor any representative from the organization was present at the City Council retreat.

Baker said he wasn’t made aware of the meeting.

Education

The demographic study conducted by IO.INC indicated around 37 percent of Maricopa residents possessed a higher education of two years or more. This fact, Morfessis said, is a good sign for businesses looking at Maricopa.

“If we can get them here, we have a qualified workforce,” Morfessis said.

Knowing considerable growth occurs around industries not dependent on college degrees, Mayor Christian Price suggested an emphasis on vocational and entrepreneurial training is equally important.

Utilizing a collaboration between local businesses, high schools and community colleges, he said, is just as important as having a high average of bachelor’s degrees.

Also, Morfessis said the city is seen by some as having a “love affair with charter schools.”

She claims this can be seen as a positive attribute when drawing in businesses with employees concerned about school choice, or a negative attribute as some view that support comes at the expense of the local public schools, a factor that could drive potential industries away.

Flood Plain

A fourth obstacle mentioned at the meeting – which, aside from string-pulling, the city has little recourse to correct – was the flood plain.

Much of Maricopa’s undeveloped land lies in that flood plain. For the past several months the city has been awaiting a final adjusted analysis of Maricopa’s flood risk under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s risk assessment.

If the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA deliver new higher flow rates, which the city believes they will, Maricopa will have to reassess their flood mitigation plan. That included channelizing the flood plain for a heavier flow. These efforts could double or triple the cost of the mitigation plan.

Morfessis and most city officials present concurred this reassessment is one of Maricopa’s greatest issues at hand.

“We have to solve this flood-plain problem,” Morfessis said.

Crossing his fingers, Price said the city might have people close to President Trump who may be able to help.

Morfessis said, “That’s great; maybe we can Trumpify it.”


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart is proud of the teamwork that created the Edison Road extension.

The Edison Road extension is complete.

Edison Pointe is finalizing leases.

Commercial development at Copper Sky may also see some stimulation in 2017.

Estrella Gin Business Park is still waiting for the light to shine.

City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting

Public Works Director Bill Fay will give an update on the SR347 Overpass, Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart will let you know the latest information on the Edison Pointe development, and the mayor and councilmembers will be there to answer your questions and listen to your concerns.

What: City of Maricopa Town Hall Meeting
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 6 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
Who: All residents are invited.

Pieces are in motion for construction of an overpass to begin this year. Developers are reviving nearly-forgotten subdivision plans. APEX Motor Club and Denny’s have shown plans to build in Maricopa.

Economic development in Maricopa is showing varying signs of progress this year as the city has studied approaches to growing the economic base of the community.

The improving economy has not necessarily created changes to the demographics of Maricopa. Denyse Airheart, the director of the city’s Economic Development Department, does not predict major changes to the methodology when the Economic Development Strategic Plan takes form this year.

“We target companies based off the assets of the community,” Airheart said.

That includes the youth (the average age of Maricopa residents is 33.8 years), income and education level of the population. Those selling points look much as they did three years ago.

A draft of the Economic Development Strategic Plan is scheduled to come before city council in April.

Maricopa may broaden its target sectors, Airheart said. Growth of employment opportunities within Pinal County, especially Casa Grande, may also impact the plan. But Maricopa is still selling itself.

Nailing down a description of Maricopa for prospective companies and creating a narrative of its future is not just a challenge for City Hall. Retail developers have had similar tests.

Edison Pointe

Edison Pointe, at the northeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Edison Road, is about a year behind leasing a typical development of its size, according to Vintage Partners leasing director Casey Treadwell. He said it has been difficult educating retailers on the attributes of Maricopa.

“I know it’s been frustrating for people wanting to see something going,” he said. At a Maricopa Advocates Program meeting in February, he predicted movement on the ground within a couple of weeks. But a month later, he said Vintage was still putting final leases in place.

Businesses he announced as part of the development are Ross, Burger King, Planet Fitness, Dunkin’ Donuts and Petco.

Mayor Christian Price has called it a game of enticement.

“The city’s doesn’t control economic development,” he said. “We can advocate for it and we can entice for it. We can go out and sell our wares as to why it’s a great place to be, but I can’t make somebody locate here.”

Copper Sky

The City itself knows the irritation of owning commercial property that stands empty for years. It has property at Copper Sky intended for commercial development since the park’s inception. An effort to develop the land may soon be renewed.

“In 2014 we went out to bid, and it just wasn’t the right time, we believe, for the economy,” Airheart said. “We anticipate we would go out sometime in 2017.”

The conceptual plan includes mixed-use commercial, a hotel and a restaurant.

“What we envision there is a destination where people can go and enjoy themselves, where people can go and get an ice cream and sit and enjoy people-watching,” Airheart said. “As you know, we sort of don’t have that sense of place because of how quickly we sprung up.”

Edison Road

The City of Maricopa also owns commercial property at what is planned as the Estrella Gin Business Park. Luring companies to the site has been a struggle, but the six-year effort has produced a new roadway – the Edison Road extension.

Airheart calls the new road one of the proudest achievements of her department.

“All the partners had to work together to make Edison Road a project,” she said.

The road was completed in March and provides another bypass between State Route 238 and John Wayne Parkway. Using a federal grant, the city worked with private landowners and utilities for years to construct the road, which includes sidewalks, curb, gutter and a center median.

Estrella Gin

The road was created to access Estrella Gin, and that project has been a problem. The city contracted with The Boyer Company to market the flex space in the business park. That contract expires in June.

Matt Jensen, a partner in Boyer, said there has been a lot of interest from small companies needing only 1,200 square feet while the city is trying to market to industrial businesses. A couple of proposals have gone out to larger enterprises. There is also an ongoing discussion with the City of Maricopa about moving the fire department administration offices to Estrella Gin.

“That would actually be fantastic,” Jensen said.

Without leases in place, the city will not begin construction, but Airheart said the city is looking at “multiple options” if the contract expires without tenants being signed. She maintains a positive attitude about city-owned commercial property.

“A community that’s investing in itself means that it’s a healthy community. So we’re showing the development community there are investments to be made,” she said.


This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Photo by Mason Callejas
Photo by Mason Callejas

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Todd House is chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors will be looking at a long-term debt proposal to finance a project in Pinal County.

The long-term debt will be used to acquire land (or interests in land) for economic development purposes, which would be utilized for future industrial, manufacturing, distribution or similar activities and projects. In accordance with Section 11-254.04, Arizona Revised Statutes, the county could then provide assistance or undertakings, improvements, leasing or future conveyance to spur industrial growth by attracting business and corporate development, expansion or relocation to enhance the economic welfare and job growth for the County’s inhabitants.

The total estimated financing cost will be $73,428,125, not to exceed $31,800,000 principal amount and total estimated interest of $41,628,125.

A public hearing is scheduled to take place during the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Jan. 4 at 9:30 a.m.  The hearing will be part of the regularly scheduled meeting.

The public is invited to comment on this issue at the public hearing or by emailing:  newprojectscomments@pinalcountyaz.gov or mailing comments to:

Pinal County Board of Supervisors
c/o Sheri Cluff, Clerk of the Board
P.O. Box 827
Florence AZ 85132


The complete text of the required public notice is shown below:

 

NOTICE OF HEARING ON PROPOSAL OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA, TO INCUR A LONG-TERM OBLIGATION NOT SECURED BY THE FULL FAITH AND CREDIT OF SUCH COUNTY

For purposes of Section 11-391, Arizona Revised Statutes, the Board of Supervisors (the “Board”) of Pinal County, Arizona (the “County”), will hold a public hearing on January 4, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors’ Hearing Room, Administrative Complex, 135 North Pinal Street, Florence, Arizona, regarding a purchase agreement (the “Agreement”) to be secured by a pledge of amounts of certain general excise taxes which the County now or hereafter imposes, except for any taxes hereafter imposed for an inconsistent purpose; excise taxes and transaction privilege (sales) taxes imposed and collected by the State of Arizona, or any agency thereof, and returned, allocated or apportioned to the County, except the County’s share of any such taxes which by State law, rule or regulation must be expended for other purposes and vehicle license taxes distributed or deposited to the County’s general fund, except the County’s share of any such tax which by State law, rule or regulation must be expended for other purposes, to acquire land (or interests in land) for economic development purposes which would be utilized for future industrial, manufacturing, distribution or similar activities and projects so that, in accordance with Section 11-254.04, Arizona Revised Statutes, the County can provide assistance or undertakings, improvements, leasing or future conveyance of the same to spur industrial growth by attracting business and corporate development, expansion or relocation to enhance the economic welfare and job growth for the County’s inhabitants.  (More detail about the foregoing will be provided in analysis provided to the Board at the hereinafter described hearing.)  The Agreement is estimated to be in the principal amount of not to exceed $31,800,000 and, with total estimated interest of $41,628,125, to have a total estimated financing cost of $73,428,125.

The Board will receive oral comments at the hearing and will receive written comments at any time before adopting the resolution of intention with respect to the Agreement which will be considered no earlier than January 19, 2017 (the “Resolution”).  The Board’s mailing address is Pinal County Board of Supervisors, c/o Sheri Cluff, Clerk of the Board, P.O. Box 827, Florence, Arizona 85132.  The notice of such hearing posted on the website of the County includes an electronic link for submitting electronic comments at any time before adoption of the Resolution.

Dated:  December 15, 2016

/s/ Sheri Cluff

…………………………………………………………………………

Clerk, Board of Supervisors

Dan Beach was terminated as executive director of Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship as NACET streamlines its management.

The termination of Dan Beach as executive director of Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship surprised many, but no one more so than Dan Beach.

“It was hurtful to me,” said Beach, who was hired two years ago. “There are so many things we’re in the middle of.”

Election night, he was told he was being let go effective immediately by Scott Hathcock, the new chief executive officer of Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).

Beach said the only reason he was given was that NACET was streamlining management.

The City of Maricopa has a contract with NACET to operate the business incubator program known as MCE. It provides resources for start-up small business in Maricopa.

In October, the contract was renewed on a unanimous vote by the city council, with Maricopa investing $200,000. Also in October, NACET hired Hathcock as its CEO.

City Hall was apparently not informed ahead of time about the decision to terminate Beach.

“It was a surprise to us,” said Dorothy Wolden, economic development specialist with the city.

She said city staff was told Hathcock would be in town but did not know the nature of the visit. Wolden said NACET reached out earlier to inform Maricopa of the implementation of a new program.

“They haven’t done anything outside the contract,” Wolden said. “We would have preferred to be informed ahead of time.”

Hathcock was not available for comment.

“This is my reputation,” Beach said. “I’ve worked hard and we’ve done a phenomenal job here. I love Maricopa. It’s an incredible, awesome place.”

Beach himself told the city what happened in his meeting with Hancock Tuesday afternoon.

Two important events involving MCE this month are Maricopa Shark Tank on Monday and Maricopa Marketplace on Nov. 26.

“It will be business as usual as much as possible,” Wolden said. “We understand there’s some uncertainty.”

Her understanding is that Christine K. Bailey, executive director of NACET’s Chandler office, will be brought into the Maricopa office part-time. The structure of MCE is expected to be more clearly laid out on Monday.

After the contract was renewed in October, some residents and council members raised questions about MCE’s services and accomplishments. That resulted in a Nov. 2 report compiled by the city Economic Development Department and MCE.

The report, which was not given to NACET, expanded on information Beach gave in his presentation before the council approved the contract. It included a June executive report breakdown of MCE’s activities.

That data showed 78 clients, four of which are resident clients, and 80 prospective clients. Wolden said questions were raised about how the agreement with NACET was structured. Residents also asked about details on accountability.

Wolden said the new program to be implemented by NACET will have a “more measurable matrix.”

The contract with NACET does not give the city involvement in the hiring and firing process of directors. Wolden said city staff is watchful of program changes and whether they fit into Maricopa’s vision of its business incubator.

“Maricopa businesses don’t have access to a lot of resources. That was the catalyst for the creation of MCE,” Wolden said. “It’s been the go-to place for small businesses.”

The Edison Pointe development by Vintage Partners includes four major retail spaces, four mini major spaces and four pads.

The Maricopa City Council heard a presentation during their work session on Nov. 1 pertaining to a developer’s reimbursement request for public improvement expenses to the Edison Pointe development site.

The empty retail lot is next to Fry’s Marketplace.

Vintage Partners Leasing Director Casey Treadwell formally requested reimbursement of costs incurred while developing public improvements on John Wayne Pkwy and Edison Road. The improvements are necessary for private development of the 15-acre site but ultimately will be part of public roadway.

The developers have been marketing the project for approximately four years and are close to securing the leases needed to move forward. However, some of the potential tenants have been hesitant to sign their leases until the developers shore up an agreement with the city about public improvement.

“If this reimbursement is in place, we do think that we can execute the final leases with the tenants over the next few weeks and get this project on schedule to deliver and open in the fall of next year,” Treadwell said.

Five major tenants are firm in their intent to lease or purchase property at the Edison Pointe site, Treadwell said. However, two potential major tenants are holding out pending a decision on the reimbursement.

If everything goes well and reimbursements are agreed upon, Treadwell is confident the development could break ground before the end of the year, though he does recognize the agreement could make or break plans for development.

“Without this it would probably push the project into 2018 if we can do it at all,” Treadwell said.

The council went into executive session to discuss details of the request. After returning to the council chambers, Mayor Christian Price and the council advised city staff to pursue negotiations with Vintage Partners and to continue to work out an agreement regarding the reimbursements.

Potential tenants at Edison Pointe, according to Treadwell’s presentation, include a pet supply store, restaurants and other “soft goods” (or clothing) stores.

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Central Arizona College.

Maricopa is a growing community that offers residents and businesses the experience of a small-town, rural atmosphere, tremendous quality of life, proximity to Phoenix and Tucson, and convenient access to major markets throughout the Southwest. To remain economically healthy over time, the City must recruit, retain and nurture the growth of a wide range of sustainable and competitive businesses.

The Economic Development Element of the City’s proposed General Plan, Planning Maricopa (Proposition 415), is a guide to establishing a fully integrated municipal economy with opportunities for residents to live, work and play. The citizens of Maricopa envision an economically prosperous, dynamic and sustainable community – one that offers a government structure that is welcoming and supportive of business and employment growth. Since the City’s incorporation, this vision has been a goal in the effort to ensure Maricopa is more than yet another bedroom community in Arizona.

Planning-Maricopa-John-Wayne-RetailJobs, revenue and financial stability contribute to a municipality’s economic health. The Economic Development Element seeks to promote these attributes by planning for increased household incomes, improving the community’s jobs-to-housing balance, and by attracting expanded retail, commercial and industrial businesses. Approximately 60 percent of all businesses in Maricopa are home based businesses. The proposed General Plan guides decisions that will create new office and retail space that gives local businesses a place to expand and remain in Maricopa.

Another goal is to create and further cultivate local business resources such as the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) and Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) to help Maricopa businesses gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Planning Maricopa integrates the General Plan elements in ways that leverage land use, transportation, and public facility decisions to enhance economic development opportunities for the future. These opportunities also include engaging and building upon local resources such as the Central Arizona College, USDA Arid Land Research Center, and the U of A Agricultural Center to expand Maricopa’s economy in the research and technology related industries.

Planning-Maricopa-USDA

U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center
U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center

Maricopa Proposition 415 – Planning Maricopa is on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot, early voting begins on Oct. 12. Maricopa registered voters are encouraged to learn about the ballot items before placing a vote. Visit www.planningmaricopa.com to view Proposition 415 in entirety and make an informed decision this November.

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Part 4

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.

Pinal County’s unemployment dropped more than 1 percent over the last year.

Data released Thursday by the Arizona Department of Administration show January’s jobless rate was 5.6 percent. That number a year ago was 7 percent.

Unemployment was 5.7 percent in December.

In 2015, the lowest jobless rate recorded for the county was in May, and also 5.6 percent. Back then, the labor force was 155,526. In January, there were 160,052 people in the county’s labor force.

Tim Kanavel, manager of Economic Development for Pinal County, said employers are moving to Pinal County, including a new casino in Dudleyville. His department is targeting job sectors that include aerospace and defense, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, natural resources and health services.

“It’s important we have the workforce for the types of businesses we’re bringing in,” he told the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce at its monthly breakfast Thursday.

During 2015, the city of Maricopa’s unemployment fell from 6.0 in January to 5.3 percent in December. Casa Grande saw more dramatic shifts, starting with 6.8 percent and climbing as high as 7.5 percent before dropping to 5.4 – coinciding with the opening of Tractor Supply Company.

The state’s unemployment dropped from 5.9 percent in December to 5.6 percent in January.

Arizona Department of Administration research administrator Doug Walls said the loss of 48,600 jobs was typical in Arizona after the holidays. In the post-recessionary years of 2010-15, he said, “the average job losses in January were 51,300.”

He said the biggest losses were in trade, transportation and utilities, which dropped more than 18,000 jobs. The only job sector posting gains for the month was in financial activities, which picked up 200.

For the year, Walls said, Arizona showed job growth of 3 percent. Nine of 11 jobs sectors showed gains overall. The biggest growth occurred in education and health services with 19,700 jobs.

Professional and businesses services gained 17,300 jobs since last January. Despite the predictable January losses, trade, transportation and utilities picked up 13,900 jobs year-to-year.

Pinal County's unemployment rate in January matched the state's.
Pinal County’s unemployment rate (orange line) in January matched the state’s (green line).

Estrella Gin ‘most exciting project’

The Estrella Gin Business Park needs to be 60 percent leased for the developer to break ground. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Yvonne Gonzalez

Maricopa is headed toward a year of growth, with unemployment down and consumer spending up.

Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said Maricopa, like the rest of the state, is growing continually.

“If you’re looking at the economic factors across the state, you’re noticing that there is no one city that is booming, but every city is growing at a steady pace,” she said.

The city just participated in the mid-decennial census, and Airheart said officials are hoping the data shows a population that gets Maricopa very close to the 50,000 mark. That would do quite a few things for the city, she said, like showing growth and bringing additional revenue.

Pinal County Economic Development Director Tim Kanavel said the county’s economy will pick up in 2016, a continuation of the current trend he’s seeing.

The unemployment rate is 6 percent, down from a record-high 13.2 percent in 2009.

He said the county is working to keep job creation at pace with workforce growth, but it’s falling slowly behind.

“We gain 8,000, 9,000 people a year that we can count,” he said.

The workforce of 128,000 in 2009 has grown to 156,000 people.

“That is tremendous growth,” he said. “Even though we are gaining all these new people, our unemployment rate keeps going down. We’re doing a pretty good job of job creation in this county.”

Kanavel said Maricopa is among the communities he expects to play a large role in Pinal’s growth.

“They wanted to be simply a bedroom community, but that’s changed within the last few years,” he said. “They’re beginning a lot of economic development that they probably wouldn’t have before.”

Airheart said Economic Development is “truly pursuing those high-wage jobs” that will allow people to live and play in the city.

“While retail is aggressively growing in Maricopa, that’s not necessarily the stuff that we are actively pursuing,” she said. “We’re really pursuing industry that will be able to provide salary wages.”

Retail growth is tied to attracting employers that add high-wage jobs in the city, she said.

“People move for quality of life, and that’s a big, big deal,” she said. “Overall, while it’s not our main focus today, it truly is a complement for the overall economic development of the entire city.”

Salt Lake City-based Boyer Group is recruiting businesses to move into space in the Estrella Gin Business Park, which needs to be 60 percent leased for the developer to break ground.

Airheart said the park would be a place for industries looking to enter Maricopa as well as home-based businesses looking for more space to boost growth.

“Because of our workforce, because of our location, this is going to be the most exciting project I think in 2016,” she said.

A timeline from the project is made uncertain, Airheart said, with tenants needed before construction can start.

“It all just depends on the businesses that sign a lease,” she said.

She said Maricopa is working on a new five-year strategic plan intended to be in place for 2016.

The city’s current strategic plan defined goals and industry clusters to focus on.

“The new strategic plan is going to be economic development 2.0,” she said. “So we have the foundation laid down.”

With the next strategic plan, the city is asking what else can be done.

“It’s really going to outline our success for the next five years,” she said.

Chipotle’s opening last summer signifies growth in the fast-casual concept, according to Airheart.

“For Chipotle to enter the market, it just says that the time is right for Maricopa,” she said. “Now we have other high-end restaurants, while they might still be fast-casual, looking at Maricopa.”

In mid-December, Maricopa Planning & Zoning commissioners gave the go-ahead to a development review permit for the proposed Edison Pointe retail shopping center. Airheart said the project will bring 130,000 more square feet of retail space.

“Retail across the state is doing well,” she said. “Consumer spending is up, and we’re able to see that in Maricopa.”

Airheart said it’s extremely exciting working with a city council that is pro-business and knowledgeable about the community and its needs. Officials are committed, she said, to aiding businesses joining Maricopa’s market.

“The biggest thing to remember is that the city is young,” she said. “It’s 12 years old, and while the community members need and want all these amenities as well as opportunities, they’re coming and it takes time and it takes diligence and it takes dedication.”

The story was published in the January issue of InMaricopa News.

Denyse Airheart is now the economic development director for Maricopa.

City of Maricopa Economic Director Denyse Airheart stopped by our InMaricopa studio to discuss the state of Maricopa’s economy, as well as what her department is doing to expand it in the future.

Airheart has been the interim economic director for Maricopa since April, but she was able to drop the “interim” portion of her title when City Manager Gregory Rose announced her promotion to director during the Maricopa City Council meeting Tuesday night. She was also recently named as one of five women for the Arizona Business Magazine “Generation Next” list of women under 40 years old making an impact on business in Arizona.

“We’re making some changes in Maricopa,” Airheart said. “Maricopa is going to look different in the next five years. I know we keep hearing that, but we are really on the cusp of something that’s going to be revolutionary for the city.”

Airheart believes the city will be able to bring in more jobs and more industry over the next few years. Maricopa city staff is currently targeting technology and professional services to expand the city’s variety of jobs available to its residents.