Nearly 100 Canadian visitors to Fountain Hills joined Mayor Ginny Dickey and town staff for an appreciation breakfast at the Community Center on Feb. 6.
In her welcoming remarks Dickey said the town wants its Canadian visitors to know how much they are appreciated.
“We are glad you like spending time here, we love sharing our hometown,” Dickey said.
A town staff member was seated at each table and available to answer questions one-on-one.
Town Economic Development Director James Smith said they recognize the significant economic impact that visitors from Canada have for the community.
“We want to show our appreciation with this event,” Smith said.
R. Glenn Williamson, CEO and Founder of the Canada Arizona Business Council and Honorary Consul to Canada, was the guest speaker for the breakfast.
Williamson asked the audience how long each had been coming to Fountain Hills for the season. The majority indicated they had a connection to the community for 15 years or more.
Williamson continued with examples of the relationship between Canada and the State of Arizona. He noted that there are 450 Canadian companies operating in Arizona, and that includes EPCOR Water USA. Williamson led that company from 2012 to 2018 and he noted that Fountain Hills was EPCOR’s initial venture into the U.S. and liked what they saw. EPCOR is now the second largest private water company in Arizona. Williamson also noted that the three largest private water companies in the state are Canadian.
He also said that 50 percent of the mines in the state are Canadian-owned.
Visitors from Canada spend $1.5 billion (USD) per year in Arizona, and that accounts for just a four and a half to five-month period.
There are more than 200 non-stop airline flights between Canada and Arizona each week, most to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, but Mesa/Gateway is getting a larger share. Williamson said there are also an increasing number of private international flights between Canada and Scottsdale Airport.
The town was joined by the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) in sponsoring the event. The Arizona Coyotes provided six pair of tickets for a private box to raffle off for an upcoming game with Calgary. The Arizona Diamondbacks offered tickets for a regular season game this year for the raffle.
Dickey read a proclamation to declare Feb. 6 Canadian Friendship Day in Fountain Hills.
“I am proud to represent Canadians in the U.S.,” Williamson said. “There are a million visitors here and nobody notices. We come, spend money and are polite.”
Williamson also noted that Fountain Hills is the first community in Arizona to organize such an appreciation event for Canada.