Ariz.) Jan. 25, 2007–
A new research report says the overwhelming
amount of economic activity in Arizona occurs within incorporated cities and
towns. That is particularly true in Peoria, where city officials have invested
dollars, infrastructure and staff time to create jobs and balance the local
The report, produced by the Economic and
Business Research Center at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of
Management, calls municipalities “the economic engines of Arizona.” According to
Doug Coleman from the Arizona League of Cities & Towns, which commissioned the
report, it “clearly demonstrates that the state’s robust economy is not
occurring by accident, but as the result of mayors and city councils making
economic development a policy priority, as well as making investments that
attract business and improve the quality of life.”
In Peoria, planners have been working for more
than a year to implement a land-use plan for commercial development in the
future Loop 303 corridor – 32 square miles in the city’s vast, northern Mesquite
District. Much of their effort has focused on extending infrastructure, such as
water and sewer lines, to the area.
“If we want to grow and thrive as a major city
and be a player in the Valley, we need to make plans now,” Mayor Bob Barrett
told the Peoria Chamber of Commerce shortly after taking office this month. “We
want to have corporations and headquarters of companies locate in the Loop 303
City officials, who work with the guidance of
an Economic Development Advisory Board comprising seven members of the business
community, estimate that up to 116,000 jobs could be created in the Loop 303
corridor over 25 years.
The effects of planning ahead are demonstrated
in Peoria’s 83rd Avenue entertainment district. A number of
restaurants, an ice skating facility, a dinner theater, a movie theater and
230,000 square feet of office space have sprung up on land the City Council had
the foresight to purchase in the 1980s to capitalize on the development of the
Peoria Sports Complex.
So, what has focusing on economic development
done for Peoria lately?
The $12.9 million Peoria Center for the
Performing Arts poised to open in the city’s historic Oldtown has made the area
more attractive for developers. A mixed-use project on Washington Street across
from Osuna Park is in the works, as is a retail development between the park and
Grand Avenue. In addition, the city is moving forward with the Cotton Crossing
road project which, among other things, will connect 83rd Avenue to a
Wal-Mart that will go up at 81st and Peoria avenues. That
infrastructure investment is key to another new project --
Peoria Place, a 127-acre mixed-use development just east of the city’s Municipal
Campus that will add commercial, retail and residential activity to the area.
But the city isn’t concerned solely with
attracting developers. It also can help smooth bumps along the path to
completion. When construction of a shopping center in southwestern Peoria hit a
snag, “We redid the development agreement and worked with them to get it done,”
said Steve Prokopek, Peoria’s Economic Development director.
Since Peoria created Prokopek’s department,
efforts to attract business have had a huge impact:
Completed projects have generated about $190
million in capital investment, $2.3 million in annual sales tax revenue and
Projects under construction represent about
$219 million in capital investment, $9.5 million in annual sales tax revenue
and 7,400 jobs
Projects scheduled to begin this year are
expected to generate about $94 million in capital investment, $3 million in
annual sales tax revenue and 1,500 jobs.
Steve Prokopek, Economic Development director, 623-773-7738.