In April I wrote the mayor and council of my concerns about the town’s economic development efforts. Specifically, the many see-through buildings throughout the town, the numerous empty lots, the still empty commercial pads beneath the downtown apartments, the fact that 50 percent of businesses in Fountain Hills are home businesses and that Fountain Hills has a lack of substantial retail/commercial enterprises.
Hundreds of Fountain Hills residents on a daily basis leave our community to spend their shopping dollars elsewhere. The town has now hired a new economic development professional who will hopefully look at the entire scope of development with a focus on increasing commercial and retail development to bring not only new revenues into the town, but substantial jobs.
Now, when the town is close to raising the sales tax and increasing fees, it is imperative there be a serious effort to increase private revenues. What has passed for economic development in the past, redevelopment by the town, is not financially beneficial, job-producing economic development. It is just redistribution of town revenues.
Fountain Hills has many citizens commissions and advisory committees for numerous town endeavors. I would again strongly urge the mayor and council to appoint an economic development commission comprised of experienced citizens in the area of business recruitment/development to advise and assist town staff and council. The existing Long Range Planning Committee does not suffice as an economic development tool and relying on outside entities such as GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council) is not a realistic long-term winning plan.
Reports of a potential Fountain Hills hospital is a good start but, again, it seems the location is an issue. A perfect partnership, pairing a good project with the right location is what Fountain Hills residents are looking for.