Is Phoenix poised for future growth? Local media has covered the numerous trips taken by Mayor Phil Gordon to Washington D.C. and outside countries including Mexico and areas within the Middle East. His travels have focused on economic development for Arizona and Phoenix. PCA Chairman Martin Shultz credits Mayor Gordon’s focus on the Downtown and Central core as the reason for key growth through significant development including Arizona State University downtown campus, TGEN, new hotel development, and CityScape, a billion-dollar investment that brought additional retail and office space to the Downtown core. Earlier in the year Mayor Gordon visited a Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) Buzz meeting to discuss Phoenix’s position internationally and why he feels to prosper locally, we must think globally.
Mayor Phil Gordon grew up in Phoenix and continues to live near the Downtown core. As a lawyer, Gordon credited his relationship with mentors from the Middle East that taught him that great cities have strong central cores. Gordon discovered that Phoenix had several assets Downtown that were distinct from many major metropolitan cities ranging from being a capital city to striving surrounding neighborhoods. When Gordon became mayor, he remembered the teaching of his friends in the Middle East and used this philosophy and the many assets in the downtown area to set up his office’s agenda. With the many projects the Mayor had, he is pleased to report that many have been accomplished.
So how is Phoenix? According to Mayor Gordon, it’s not bad. In the last 4 years, Downtown Phoenix continues to have consistent growth with increasing sales tax revenue and new business. Business is up almost 16%. Bars and restaurant sales tax is up 45% showing the good investment from the public and the increase in jobs.
However, on an international level, Mayor Gordon stated the immigration issue did hurt Phoenix although the issue has tempered a lot since the introduction of Senate Bill 1070. Mayor Gordon said, the “religion of United Arab Emirates (UAE) is dollars” so when National businesses are not interested in spending in Phoenix because of strife and protests, it is difficult to convince international partners to invest as well. However, Mayor Gordon said that Arizona has benefits that are important to international investors including high-quality higher education (Some leaders of UAE were educated at the University of Arizona), open space, moderate weather conditions, and a natural beauty (i.e. Grand Canyon, sunsets, and other natural assets).
Finally, through leaders like Mayor Gordon, Phoenix also has many personal relationships with international entities that will help growth in the future. There are many progressive nations that will look to invest and in the end, it will be about the relationships that have been established.
Mayor Gordon will be leaving office in 2011 and many candidates have started to campaign. PCA wants to insure that the new Mayor will keep a focus on the development and revitalization of Greater Downtown Phoenix. Please stay tuned for the upcoming mayoral candidate forum on June 13, 2011.