Photo caption: Speaking at the Arizona Association for Economic Development forum in Prescott were speakers Joyce Grossman, AAED executive director; Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli; Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski; Payson Mayor Craig Swarthgood; Flagstaff Mayor Coral Evans; and Casey Rooney, economic development director, Cottonwood, who served as the AAED emcee. All noted the importance of positive economic development to sustain healthy communities.
Views about economic development were shared by four mayors during the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) forum in late April at the Centennial Center in Prescott.
Tim Elinski, Cottonwood; Coral Evans, Flagstaff; Craig Swarthwood, Payson; and Greg Mengarelli, Prescott, described aspirations for their communities for the next few years.
Common among the mayors was that all four are newly elected and have not previously been mayors.
An even larger commonality was agreement about the need to support existing businesses and to attract new and potentially new businesses. They also stressed the need to create better jobs for young people within their respective communities.
All agreed that a fiscally strong education system is a necessity in sustaining strong communities.
An estimated 70 attendees from communities throughout Central and Northern Arizona were at the event including our Publisher, Elaine Earle.
Prior to introducing the mayors, Casey Rooney, director of economic development for the Town of Cottonwood, thanked forum organizers for creating what he termed, “a genuine enthusiasm in creating and stimulating an economic climate that will result in increasing diversity of business growth and development throughout the region.”
Cottonwood Mayor Elinski said his priorities included continuation of beautification in historic “Old Town,” which has become a tourism attraction.
“I have introduced a new mission statement — ‘inspiring a vibrant community’ and providing our citizens with a solid economic future,” he said. He noted the Verde Valley is becoming popular as a grape-growing and wine- producing area.
Flagstaff Mayor Evans said she sees Flagstaff’s future connected to its strong scientific (USGS) and astronomical base and an increasing interest in regional health care. She supports strengthening the relationships with higher education, industry and tourism.
Payson Mayor Swarthgood said he wants to focus on improving health-care facilities and services. He also wants to continue improvement of the Main Street area.
Mayor Swarthgood said a Canadian developer is considering building a sports preparatory school for aspiring athletes.
Prescott Mayor Mengarelli cited priorities he hoped would increase economic prosperity. They included attracting new high-tech business and industry, expansion of Prescott Municipal Airport, bringing business back to the Prescott Gateway Mall and strengthening relationships with institutions with campuses in Prescott (Yavapai College, Prescott College, Northern Arizona University-Yavapai, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University).
Mengarelli said he was confident that as communities cooperated, the entire region would benefit because of jobs and a healthy economy.
AAED Executive Director Joyce Grossman, who organized the forum, concluded, “It is apparent that all of these mayors ran on a strong economic development platform. We are delighted to have them share their vision for the future with us, and we wish them continued success.”