Candidates Q&A: Economic development

Editor’s note: This is one of the key issue questions posed to Prescott City Council and Mayor candidates recently by the Daily Courier. The candidates were asked to answer a number of questions in 75 words or less. Voters will choose from among the candidates in the Aug. 29 primary.

With approval of a consultant contract in February 2017, the City of Prescott has renewed its push for economic development — especially for high-tech companies that could benefit from the proximity to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Consultant Jim Robb has made several presentations to the City Council recently, emphasizing Prescott’s potential for satellite offices of larger tech firms.

Council members have voiced support for the efforts, which they say would take advantages of existing assets, such as the local universities and outdoors amenities.

Candidates running for Prescott Mayor and City Council weighed in recently on how important they think economic-development efforts are for the community.

Do you believe economic development is important? If so, what would you do as a council member, or what should the city do to promote it?  If not, what should the city be doing as an alternative?

Mayor candidates

Greg Mengarelli: Smart growth is what we need. That means tailoring economic development to recognize opportunities and to create partnerships to nurture those opportunities. One of the top rated engineering schools in the country is located in our city. Yet, the talent that graduates from that school leaves Prescott to find jobs. Imagine developing a research park that specialized in all things related to aeronautical engineering right here in our community.

Mary Beth Hrin: Economic development is vital to Prescott’s survival for we cannot sales tax our residents, neighbors, and tourists as a way out of our public pension liability. We need economic development which does not conflict with our environment, add pollution, or traffic congestion. And while the government cannot create jobs, it certainly can foster an environment for economic development to flourish. I am a strong proponent of working with our local university and colleges for incubation and entrepreneurship to attract high-tech, low-water use jobs to the area. Additionally, with all the great assets this city has to offer, we certainly can promote Prescott to attract satellite offices of major tech corporations to relocate here as well.

Jean Wilcox: Economic development is absolutely essential to a thriving community and it must provide occupational and career opportunities for the generations that follow in order for Prescott to survive beyond our lifetimes. As Mayor, I would continue implementation of the council’s strategic planning goals, one of which was economic development. I support an economic incentives policy which can offer inducements to businesses and industries that fit into our way of life, with the resources we have to offer. Working with an experienced consultant and the city manager, I would promote our quality of place and our higher educational institutions to attract new businesses as well as a “buy local” effort to support existing businesses.

Council candidates

Greg Lazzell: Economic development has been and is happening. It’s called the free market. We can never be all things to all people.

Alexa Scholl: Economic development is critical to the longevity and health of our community. Without a workforce and job opportunities, our economy will not be long lasting or healthy. The city should work to bring high paying jobs to the area. This can be done by proper marketing and working together with the private sector. Economic development in Prescott needs to be smart and strategic for it to be successful and helpful to our community.

Joe Viccica: It is imperative that we start refocusing our efforts on economic development, and having Jim Robb with his high tech development expertise on the team was a great step in the right direction. Our city’s population is growing older. By 2025, it’s estimated nearly 75% of our country’s workforce will be made up of millennials. Every high paying job we can bring to Prescott equals more consumers buying goods which equals more money in the general fund.

Steve Blair: Economic development is absolutely important. Continue to be the cleanest and best quality of life city in Arizona and the southwest. We need to continue to promote quality of life. That is the big deal.

Connie Cantelme: I believe the city should set aside some money for advertising. We currently have no fund to promote our city. I believe economic development is one of the most important issues at this time.

Phil Goode: Of course economic development is important for the viability of Prescott. BUT such development needs to be the right kind. High tech development that has low impact on traffic, congestion, and water resources can provide well-paying career opportunities for our young people and the health of Prescott. Supporting the continued efforts of Prescott’s economic development team to attract high tech satellite facilities is a goal I strongly support.