Economist Jim Rounds told attendees at WESTMARC’s annual board of directors meeting if the right balance is struck, the economy and spending numbers will improve.
“We’re going to see a larger share of growth occur in the West Valley, but not everything is a given,” he said. “Just because an organization forecasts this, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen unless you have proper planning.”
Rounds was the keynote speaker at the February 8 meeting that brought together business owners, council members and school board directors to discuss potential West Valley growth.
Rounds said growth funds infrastructure, but, in turn, infrastructure is needed to fund growth. Economic planners must try to lure businesses to the West Valley and perhaps pay for infrastructure so the area can grow.
Case in point: The recent Super Bowl in Glendale made a more than $700 million economic impact. He urged leaders to ponder ways to increase that number.
Rounds addressed the recent stock market drops, and said the West Valley will not see any economic changes in the immediate future.
“Now is a really good time to start thinking about fundamentals,” he said. “A balanced budget is an economic development tool.”
He predicts an economic downturn and failure to plan ahead can make the downturn more severe than it needs to be.
Next on WESTMARC’s agenda is identifying West Valley residents and what jobs they require, and how to bring them to the area.
In a follow-up interview, Rounds spoke about what West Valley residents can expect in the near future: “moving up in terms of volume of these base sector companies that create all these other additional business opportunities in the region, where it was lacking in the past.”
That will create amenities that allow the West Valley to attract highly paid workers, who will move into desirable neighborhoods. In relation to the West Valley, Rounds said, “It’s like there was a void that’s suddenly filling in.”
Rounds had advice for West Valley leaders.“They still have a lot of work to do,” he said. “You have to keep pushing because everybody else is trying to advance their position, too. Everyone else is going to be competing with the West Valley, and not just in the state. I’m talking about out of state, too.”
Among the audience members was Glendale City Councilman Jamie Aldama.
“The reason why I come here today is to hear about the economic forecast, so we can go back to our cities and develop an economic plan that benefits our citizens,” Aldama said.
Mustang Aviation President Kevin Pettite thought Rounds’ comment on planning was insightful. He wished Rounds had elaborated on the current market situation, instead of glossing over it. He added there was probably more information that could have been provided.
Pettite also expressed what he admires about WESTMARC and how it stands apart from Phoenix. He felt that Phoenix gets a lot of attention and developing the west is important. “What’s happening in Phoenix is going to be redevelopment. Whats happening out here is new development and new opportunities for companies to come in,” he said.
Peoria Unified School District board member Kathy Knecht liked Rounds’ comments on how all the aspects of building an economy have to play in harmony with one another.
“If you give one place you have to take from another and there are unintended consequences for any decision that policy makers make.” Knecht said.