Friday, October 23, 2009

State of Mesa: Councilmember Scott Somers - District 6

We have a new edition of our series, "State of Mesa." We have offered each councilmember an opportunity to submit their own editorial on the state of their District to be posted on Mesa Issues. Here is Councilmember Scott Somers' State of District 6:

State of the District: Mesa Gateway Bucking the Trend

Mesa, along with the rest of the nation, continues to struggle with the downturn in the economy. Many economists are starting to say that we’ve hit bottom, but it certainly seems to be a marshy bottom as unemployment in Arizona continues to hover above 9-percent. In this environment, investments in economic development become increasingly important for our State and City’s long-term recovery and growth.

In many ways, southeast Mesa is bucking the trend of receding economic activity with the addition of new businesses and expansion of existing ones. This growth has created jobs and brought millions in private investment to the City.

Major aerospace employers now occupy the north ramp of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Cessna, Embraer, and Hawker-Beechcraft have or will soon create a combined $47M in capital investment with 260 jobs and an annual payroll of $16M.

Despite the decline in business and recreational air travel, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and its major tenant Allegiant Airlines continue to expand. The Airport Authority recently accepted a $9M Federal grant for the expansion of the Charles Williams Terminal. With that announcement came the addition of Allegiant’s 20th destination from Mesa. Allegiant employs 60 people at Gateway and funded an earlier $3M expansion of the terminal.

The Arizona Aerospace Institute was conceived to promote a global role for the State in aerospace research and infrastructure. We expect AzAI will soon plant its flag in Mesa. Mayor Smith and I are pleased to be among the founding members of the advisory board.

Manufacturing is beginning to seed itself near Mesa Gateway. Soon CMC Steel will open its doors. The company will recycled metals to create steel rebar. The mill’s capacity will be able to supply nearly all the steel rebar needs for Arizona. CMC invested $120M in our City and will provide 60 jobs with an annual payroll of $3.6M.

Healthcare services are expanding in east Mesa. Banner Baywood recently opened its new emergency room; Mountain Vista Medical Center is up-and-running offering improved cardiac and stroke services to the east Valley; and A.T. Still is expanding its medical education and services campus to begin construction on a specialty hospital.

Tourism initiatives in southeast Mesa are progressing. Last year voters overwhelmingly approved the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center. This project will bring 1200 resort rooms and nearly 500,000 s.f. of convention space to Mesa. Despite the down economy, Gaylord Entertainment was able to retire debt and raise capital, money that is reported to help with their expansion projects, most notably right here in Mesa. Gaylord will bring nearly $1B (that’s Billion) in private capital investment to Mesa – the largest such investment in Arizona history.

Don’t be surprised if you see a movie star in Mesa in the coming years. The Gateway Studios project located south of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport continues to move forward. While there are a few obstacles to overcome, this project promised to bring $70M in private investment to southeast Mesa, along with some notoriety.

Mesa is quickly being recognized for its innovation in planning. Recently, the Mesa Gateway Strategic Development Plan, which we’ve been working on for nearly 2 ½ years, received an award from the American Planning Association for “Best 21st Century Plan”.

I expect southeast Mesa will continue to see tremendous growth in Healthcare, Education, Aerospace, and Tourism in the coming years. Will continued diligence and innovative planning it can truly live up to our vision of a 100,000 high-wage job center.

1 comment:

Heath Reed said...

There is a lot of positive news coming out of the gateway area, even in this economy. The area has a lot of potential to be a great place. Now I do have to say, the city cant too much of the credit in receiving the APA award for the gateway plan, that has to go to DMB. They are the ones who got the city to move in this direction. If ol Hawker had his way, it would be an ugly industry area with wide roads and lots of asphalt for his company to pave. I do give Mesa Kudos for jumping in with DMB in creating a hybrid FBC that looks at a new way of desert urbanism. Now, it would be nice to see the rest of the city jump on board as they revamp the zoning code. Well, areas of change that is (ie, Downtown, Fiesta etc)