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Economic development focuses on jobs

Posted 4/3/13

The Town Council showed it is ready to move on a proposed economic development plan by approving the proposal unexpectedly at its March 21 meeting.

The plan’s main goal is to attract new …

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Economic development focuses on jobs


The Town Council showed it is ready to move on a proposed economic development plan by approving the proposal unexpectedly at its March 21 meeting.

The plan’s main goal is to attract new businesses that add local jobs to the economy.

The council was to have considered a request by Town Manager Ken Buchanan to appoint an ad-hoc committee to develop an implementation program for the draft economic development plan.

“I’m tired of rehashing and re-evaluating,” Vice Mayor Tait Elkie said. “It is time to see action.

“I believe we already have a working plan.”

Buchanan said they would need to get a working structure before the plan could be implemented.

Instead of authorizing an ad-hoc committee, the council directed Buchanan to work with the town’s Strategic Planning Advisory Commission to initiate the plan.

Buchanan said he will be asking the council to contract with someone to assist with business attraction. He said the town needs to be looking at how to create jobs in the community.

“I’m pleased the council had the foresight to adopt the plan so we can go forward,” Buchanan said.

He added that he has great confidence in SPAC to assist.

“They have the expertise to help,” he said. “A couple of (SPAC commissioners) do this for a living.

“I just hope they have the time.”

Economic development is both an operational priority and strategic planning goal for the town.

The plan outlines priorities for business attraction.

“Attracting and retaining quality, well-paying jobs help to diversify the economic base and fosters a live/work atmosphere,” the plan states. “Attracting and developing business activities that create wealth and revenues in Fountain Hills is required to achieve the community’s vision of long-term economic sustainability.”

The basic economy is one that provides living wage jobs in the community that bring people to live and work in town. They in turn, whether they live here or not, will spend some of their wages within Fountain Hills, maintaining the “non-basic” economy.

The Economic Development Plan targets several areas for business attraction.

These include professional, technical and scientific services; healthcare, medical, biosciences and wellness; finance and insurance; and arts, entertainment and recreation (tourism).

“These sectors offer higher wage professional positions that match our labor force and build upon existing regional cluster,” the plan states.

The non-basic ventures are those that keep the money circulating within the community such as retail, restaurants and grocery stores.

“A vibrant, sustaining economy will not occur without a healthy blend of both basic and non-basic activities present,” the plan states.

Livability has always been Fountain Hills’ greatest asset, and that is what brought people here during the ‘90s and early 2000 years.

In the wake of the Great Recession, homebuilding is no longer a strong economic engine. Fountain Hills needs to focus its energies now on attracting the businesses that will provide the jobs in the future, Buchanan said.

Putting Fountain Hills on the map with branding, marketing and communications will be important going forward.

“The council has given us the areas we can now focus on,” Buchanan said.