Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher welcomed nearly 100 phoenix business and political leaders to the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s recent Day at the City event in his signature fashion: casting praise upon his city colleagues for their work in providing top-notch services to residents and unparalleled support to businesses.
In his typical style of reflecting the spotlight away from himself, Zuercher undersells his own direct role in the city’s success, especially considering that he essentially functions as a CEO with a workforce of 14,500 and a customer base of more than 1.5 million. However, like many successful C-level executives, he is focused on the services and initiatives under his watch. Chief among those is creating an environment for entrepreneurs and businesses to grow and thrive.
“We want you to be able to concentrate on doing what you do to make this community better, which is growing your businesses, creating jobs and creating an environment where people can thrive and prosper. We want to be a support for that,” Zuercher said. “We’re successful when businesses and families are successful.”
Looking out over an assembled crowd that included Phoenix City Council members Bill Gates, Kate Gallego, Daniel Valenzuela, Jim Waring and Thelda Williams, Zuercher used an a restaurant analogy to describe his view of the city – a pillar of strength and dependability that provides the foundation (a dinner plate) on which to build the items that are the real draw – professional success and personal happiness (the meal).
“When you go into a restaurant, it’s very rare that you would say ‘wow, those plates are really gorgeous, I’m glad I’m here for that dinner plate,’” he said. “You’re there for the food. The city is that plate, and the businesses and the people are the meal. The role of the city is to be that support, that function that creates the environment for the people and the businesses of Phoenix to succeed.”
Zuercher closed his remarks by encouraging attendees to express their challenges and concerns during their breakout group sessions because few are offered what the Chamber’s annual Day at the City event provides – an engaged, back-and-forth conversation with city council members where questions are asked and answered.
“A day like this is critically important to us,” he said. “We make ourselves better because we listen to the opinion and voices of our business community.”
Breakout sessions – Top 5 Takeaways
Economic Development – Councilwoman Kate Gallego & Councilman Bill Gates
“State funding is much less than it used to be. Prop. 104 provides several billion dollars for roads, light rail and the bus system, which is important for us to have a more connected city. That has been very exciting to me. We’ve had many deals come because of it.” – Kate Gallego
“We don’t have the financial incentives that some other states have. We can either view that as a disadvantage or we can embrace it. Do we want a business here because we wrote them a huge check? That’s not a sustainable relationship and as soon as those big checks go away they’re going to go away.” – Bill Gates
- Proposition 104 is the most important economic development tool created this year. It will provide billions for transportation, which is directly linked to economic success.
- An increasingly diverse economy provides multiple opportunities for job growth so one down sector can’t depress the entire area.
- Getting the right people in the right places is a big focus for the city’s economic development department. Hiring Christine Mackay is a prime example.
- Removal of business roadblocks is a key effort at the city. If you are experiencing any, the city wants to know.
- All city procurement services now exist in one place online to encourage small- and medium-sized businesses bid to provide city services.
Transportation – Councilwoman Thelda Williams
“I’m a big believer that transportation is a key, a basic need, it not only helps our businesses but it protects our neighborhoods. It’s the public’s city. We rely on their comments, suggestions, priorities and commitment to making these projects happen. It’s their money,” – Thelda Williams
Proposition 104 passing was vital to Valley transportation projects including street maintenance, new bike lanes, more buses and light rail expansion.
Street resurfacing is one of the city’s biggest challenges in transportation. Phoenix now has a large number of streets that are beyond just resurfacing.
1,080 miles of new bike lanes built with Prop. 104 money need to be coordinated and placed with safety as a key consideration. Rapid bus service will also greatly expand.
The younger generation wants increased public transportation options, owning and driving cars isn’t as high a priority as it used to be.
Communicating transportation needs to the city council is critical in getting attention to the right areas.
Community Development & Wellness – Councilman Daniel Valenzuela
“I’m accessible! Don’t be afraid to call or email me with a great idea for FitPHX that can improve the program. We want to continue to make it interesting to achieve a more dynamic program. FitPHX is for the common good of the city and it helps to have strong buy-in from the community. It’s an important initiative for all of us.” – Daniel Valenzuela
- FitPHX events are good for both personal and economic health while also showing off our Phoenix’s great transportation infrastructure, architecture, parks and local businesses.
- Wellness is our most important commodity. A health community = a strong economy.
- Active workstations at Phoenix libraries feature treadmills that allow library-goers to burn some calories while they are reading, doing homework or just using a computer.
- Phoenix has many natural geographic features and infrastructure, year-round pleasant weather, and a grid-like city layout that all provide opportunities to stay healthy for folks of any age or athletic level.
- Proposition 104 enables greater features for residents and visitors, such as the addition of 1,000 miles of bike trails and shaded sidewalks for people who like to walk or jog. That moves closer to being a safe, multi-modal city.
Public Safety – Councilman Jim Waring
“Stay vigilant especially during events like the recent Super bowl. It is important for public safety officials be able to work alongside other police forces and with people at the state and federal level,” – Jim Waring
- Public safety accounts for 70 percent of a city’s general budget.
- Police officers receive 1-2 years of training before they are ever on their own in the field to ensure they are able to provide quality service to the community.
- Reach out to public safety officials when you see suspicious activity.
- Human trafficking is a real problem that should be addressed at the local, state and federal levels.
- Safebiz.com will provide emergency preparedness training to employees.
-written by Josh Coddington, marketing and communications manager.