More than 700 people paid $50 a head to attend this morning’s State of the City breakfast address by Mesa Mayor John Giles at the city’s convention center. The sold-out crowd heard that, overall, “the state of our city is very good.”
“Mesa is actually a really big deal,” Giles said, citing Mesa’s recent move to 36th largest city in the United States after standing at 38th for a long time.
“We added over 2,000 jobs last year to the economy and the sales tax revenue continues to grow,” Giles said. “Getting better is more important than getting bigger.”
The downfalls Giles outlined is the need for more police and firefighters “so we can continue to provide a safe city and we hope to get that with voter approval” and the increase the city has seen in its homeless population.
Giles plans to continue his drive for more diversity and inclusiveness throughout the city with the One Mesa pledge (http://www.mesaaz.gov/city-hall/mayor-council/mayor-john-giles/one-mesa-pledge) and continuing his vision of NextMesa (http://www.mesaaz.gov/city-hall/mayor-council/mayor-john-giles/nextmesa).
“NextMesa is my way of suggesting that we not be satisfied with what we have now, but to go to the next level,” he said. “If we focus on high quality of life, we can grow from there.”
Giles emphasized the 2017 successful focus of improving city parks and bike trails for the good of all children in Mesa through Park Bond monies.
“To me, this is one of the great reasons to live in Mesa,” he said. “Our improved aquatics programs and parks are a great reflection of who we are as a community.”
At last year’s State of the City address, Giles introduced Imagine Mesa, an interactive, digital forum that engaged city residents, businesses and visitors to share their ideas for shaping Mesa’s future.
“It was a huge success and garnered the largest audience in city history” at 67,111 and generating 465 new ideas, he told everyone this morning.
From park improvements Giles moved to reporting on the success of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, highlighting the recent SkyBridge Arizona announcement (https://mynewsmesa.com/skybridge-arizona-marks-new-era-cross-border-commerce-gateway-airport/), the nation’s first international air cargo hub to house both Mexican and United States customs.
Giles said when he served as a city councilman during the ’90s he had a vote on what to do with the old Williams Air Force Base in Mesa and “I’m happy to say that we stuck to a development plan and have come a long way after receiving much criticism back them. Now, the investment has paid off for our community in a big way.”
The next thriving city jewel in Giles’ opinion is downtown Mesa. He highlighted the growth of such new businesses as Cider Corps, the first dedicated craft cidery in Arizona, which opened last year on Veterans Day (https://mynewsmesa.com/veteran-owned-cidery-opens-doors-mesa-veterans-day/).
“Not only are they a great fit for downtown, it’s been a cool use of another historic building downtown,” he said.
Speaking on downtown, Giles mentioned the development of an “innovation district” (stay tuned to MyNewsMesa.com for more on this in coming weeks) and the search for anchor businesses and research institutes. That was a good lead in for him to announce last night’s City Council approval of an innovative partnership between Palladium Enterprises and CO+HOOTS to develop The GRID, a $60 million next-level, mixed-use residential, office and restaurant project on Main Street that will bring 500 new residents to downtown Mesa (https://mynewsmesa.com/cohoots-grid-announced-mayor-giles-state-city/).
“Downtown Mesa is on its way to becoming a diverse, innovative hub,” Giles said.
In conclusion, the mayor cited the city’s continued need for Pre-K education and its dedication to Mesa K-Ready, an innovative, family-focused program to improve kindergarten readiness.
“This is a serious issue we have to deal with and the Mesa K-Ready program we’ve kicked off will allow Mesa 4-year-olds a chance to succeed,” Giles continued. “Mesa has a history of taking on big challenges and we’ve done that here. I’m convinced when we invest in ourselves people will want to live in Mesa.”
Sally Harrison, president and CEO of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, in charge of today’s breakfast, said this is the first time the event has sold out and that next year they will be expanding the space at the Mesa Convention Center to accommodate everyone.
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.