Global connections; infrastructure improvements and new jobs highlight 2016 State of the City
Mayor Sharon Wolcott delivered the 2016 State of the City speech before a full house at the Colonnade this morning, where she highlighted recent success stories for Surprise and detailed what the city needs to achieve future progress.
The theme of this year’s speech It’s Our Time showcased how years of hard work and planning by city leadership has resulted in 300 new businesses and more than 1,000 new jobs over the past five years. Add in the millions of square feet for new retail, industrial and medical/office space and it represents a $50 million investment into the state’s economy.
Mayor Wolcott says investment in critical transportation projects, including the recent construction of the Bell Road Bridge over Grand Avenue, will serve as a catalyst for spurring new development, particularly in the City Center, the future downtown of Surprise, next to City Hall.
She also noted that partnerships with regional agencies and neighboring cities will continue to push for revitalization of the Grand Avenue Corridor in an effort to bring Bus Rapid Transit and better land-use policies to revitalize Grand from Phoenix to Surprise.
The city remains committed to a global strategy to increase its share of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). “FDI represents $240 billion of annual investment in the United States,” says Wolcott. “Another benefit of exporting these jobs into our community is that these foreign-owned companies tend to pay higher salaries and purchase supplies and services from other local companies.”
Mayor Wolcott says new studies are proving that much of the region’s high-skilled workforce lives in the West Valley, which should help more engineering and high-tech firms choose to relocate to the area where these workers actually reside. She continues to encourage the state to remain committed to career technical education and identify permanent funding solutions for Joint Technical Education Districts that provide local skills-learning to students and employers.
Mayor Wolcott championed the efforts of the Surprise Police and Fire-Medical Departments for keeping Surprise one of the safest communities in the entire country.
Citing the National Citizens Survey, Wolcott noted that 94% of residents agreed that investing in water resources, completing half-built streets; protecting the White Tanks and building new parks are a priority for the city over the next three years.
“We have plans in place to make great things happen in Surprise; however, we must explore new and alternative revenue sources to fund growing public safety needs and those projects that residents have told us are their hometown priorities,” says Wolcott.
She noted that over the past few years the city has stabilized city finances, strengthened budget reserves and enhanced the city’s presence, regionally, nationally and internationally.
“We are tee’d up and ready to go,” says Wolcott. “Surprise is well-positioned for even greater things over the next five years and primed to claim a full decade of progress.”