Economic Development… a Blood Sport?

Nick Molinari, Class 26
City of Scottsdale

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

I’m no expert, but I would guess that economic development is challenging work.  The economy is on shaky ground and there’s enormous competition from every direction for business and tax dollars.  Is economic development really a “blood sport”, as Dick Bowers, Scottsdale’s longest tenured former City Manager, recently told Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 26?  You might be surprised.  I sure was.  I mean, those economic vitality folks I’ve met working for the City of Scottsdale over the years didn’t wear gladiator outfits or look vicious in any way.

As I’ve talked to my fellow classmates over the last week, I think there’s general consensus that Economic Development Day put some things into perspective for us.  We’ve had some inspiring moments already, indeed.  Community stewardship, social services, education, youth issues, the arts… they’re all important – critical to the character of our city.  But when it comes right down to it, everything starts with economic development.  Schools, city services, streets, infrastructure, support for those in need… it all rests on our city’s ability to create sustained economic drivers to support the system.

So, what does it take to get the job done in the bloody arena of economic development?  A few things stood out!

  • Economic development demands risk
  • Economic development requires a “get it done attitude”
  • Economic development is not a set of rules, but instead an idea and a vision

Scottsdale has some distinct advantages over other communities.  It isn’t difficult to tout our quality of life to prospective industries.  Our proximity to ASU and world class healthcare systems like Mayo Clinic and Scottsdale Healthcare make us a prime destination for a multitude of businesses. But, Scottsdale is a premier city because we take risks.  The Indian Bend Wash could have been a concrete drainage system, but instead is considered “an engineering wonder of the world” that defines our great city. To remain a leading destination for investment, we must continue to take those calculated risks in areas like the McDowell Road Corridor.  We must continue to be proactive and not reactive.

So, here are a couple of New Year’s resolutions for 2012 that I’ll be working on.

  • INFECT OTHERS!  Be advocates for our community, on any level you can. An advocate for Scottsdale as a destination – a destination for tourism, investment and growth.
  • GET INVOLVED!  If you think bold ideas will help mold our community to be better positioned for the future, let your voice be heard.  We certainly know what many think about a broad range of issues.  More power to them!  They go to City Council meetings, write articles to the newspaper and ensure their opinions are heard.  If you have ideas about bold initiatives, don’t stand on the sidelines.
  • SHOP SCOTTSDALE!  Sound easy breezy?  It should be, but actually it takes just a bit of thought.  If you live in south Scottsdale or the Downtown area, it’s pretty easy to drift into the Pavillions or Tempe Marketplace to shop.  If you are more of a northern bird, Kierland can be enticing.  While some of these areas may have a Scottsdale mailing address, none are actually in our city.  Scottsdale depends on that revenue to maintain the unique character of our city.  This is one thing you can do today that will have an immediate impact on our community.

To sum up his presentation, Mr. Bowers fittingly quoted Mary Kay Ash.  “There are three kinds of organizations.  Those that make things happen, those that watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.”  Scottsdale must continue to be a community that makes things happen!

What are your New Year’s resolutions to make the City of Scottsdale a more sustained economic destination?

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