Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton delivered his third State of the City address Wednesday and outlined his plan to take the nation’s sixth-largest city into the future.
“We’re a big city, but a new big city still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up,” Stanton said as he laid out ambitious goals regarding Phoenix’s place in the global economy, its dependence on construction, and the role of transportation infrastructure.
“We’re still feeling the (recession’s) effect yet haven’t done enough to move forward,” Stanton told a few hundred business and government leaders at the downtown Phoenix Convention Center. “I refuse to accept that as our future. ... We can change our destiny.”
The first-term mayor called for an ideas-based economy and pledged to double exports to Mexico in the next five years as well as doubling the city’s exports worldwide in the next 10 years.
Stanton said Phoenix will host an international trade summit in May, open its first trade office in Mexico City later this year, and provide new city services to help companies sell their products abroad. Stanton said he planned to travel to Mexico on Thursday — his eighth trip to the country in less than three years.
Stanton said Arizona’s exports to Mexico were up 12 percent in the last year, but that didn’t compare to recent gains by neighboring states. For 2007-12, Stanton said, Arizona was the only state to see exports fall.
“Look, we have to be honest with ourselves,” he said. “We have to accept that our challenges aren’t cyclical but, in fact, have been building over decades.
“Today’s global economy, it’s rooted in innovation. And innovation is anything but business as usual.”
Stanton said that Phoenix’s economic success also depends on our region’s ability to prepare for significant long-term population growth.
“The 17 miles of rail we have, it’s great,” he said, noting the city’s Transit 2020 funds will expire in five years. “But to prepare for our growth, we have to triple the miles of light rail in Phoenix over the next 30 years.”
None of Stanton’s talking points were specific to Ahwatukee, and notably absent from the nearly 40-minute speech — as well as from the “Phoenix by the Numbers” information graphic handed out to those in attendance — was any mention of the city’s $26 million to $52 million budget deficit projected for the next fiscal year or the city’s recent credit-rating downgrade.
“It was a very uplifting speech, but now we have to make ideas reality,” said Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, an Ahwatukee resident.
DiCiccio, who’s invested in the city’s international trade, was in Mexico City with Stanton on Thursday.
“I do want to hear his thoughts on how he plans to get there. What are the exact fundamentals, and how is he going to monitor exports?” DiCiccio said. “He gave a similar uplifting speech a year ago and didn’t finish what he said he was going to do then.”
Other notable points of the address:
• Stanton said next year’s Super Bowl in Glendale will be the safest Super Bowl ever.
• Stanton announced the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management will move from north Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix this summer.
• The mayor applauded the adaptive re-use projects, particularly in the city’s urban corridor, that took off after he and the City Council adopted new permitting policies and began to waive fees for plans to make new, productive uses of older buildings.
• Stanton said Phoenix’s Access to Care Ordinance brought in $300 million from the federal government to save health care jobs and improve care.
• The city’s Shop Local policy, which Stanton put into place after taking office, has increased the value of procurement contracts to local businesses from $50,000 to more than $2.3 million in two years.
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