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Tue, Sept. 17

Column: Finding common ground is necessary

This is the first in a four-part series about the Central Arizona Partnership (CAP) mission, which is to advocate for responsible growth. Subsequent articles will explore more deeply relevant issues and possible management strategies associated with: 1) Healthcare, 2) Education, and 3) Water Resources.

The public-private imperative

Entering 2015, rural Yavapai County communities are ready and eager to participate in and plan for viable, long-range, sustainable economic development. Yes, the economy will continue certain cycles with or without Yavapai County, but we need to plan and prepare for growth, nonetheless.

This means finding common ground for community priorities and designing a decision-making process for local government that includes traditional economic impact and revenue-impact analyses. We need to reinforce these analyses with the addition of indicators that reflect the stock and flow of natural resources, community health, and educational attainment.

Planning for a resilient economy involves cost-benefit analysis that goes beyond monetary figures and delves into recognized variables, such as population by age, income growth (or livable wage calculations), labor distribution, high school graduation rates, access to civic engagement, and quantity, quality, and usage of waste water, all of which set the stage for a prosperous community.

Well-planned development can create a range of benefits for our community: a better return on public investments and increases in community health and welfare, for instance.

Unplanned growth can result in the deterioration of human, social, and natural capital, which can be difficult - if not impossible - to recover.

By focusing on leading indicators of health and healthcare, education, and water use, CAP seeks to encourage strategically aligned development projects for public and private investment that will increase the overall well-being of communities in Yavapai County.

Communities in the U.S. flourish when there is an understanding relationship between the public and private sectors that results in a functioning infrastructure, pleasing aesthetics, and public services.

Local government is funded by taxes paid by the private sector. Our economy is spurred by private sector spending on wages and supplies. Without appropriate consideration of the contributions made by the private sector to the well-being of our community, we will find ourselves in a budget crisis with demands for public services and no funding to pay for it.

Well-planned development forms the foundation for a community to grow and prosper at its own pace while nurturing the interdependent relationship between private-sector spending and the enhancement of public resources and goods.

About the Central Arizona Partnership

The Central Arizona Partnership (CAP) is a group of civic, business, and education leaders from Yavapai County who advocate responsible growth that balances economic and ecological sustainability, judicious management of natural resources, and truthful examination of and debate on growth issues in our region.

Over the years, CAP has facilitated public education forums, deliberation, and action to address issues of primary importance to our quality of life. Most recently, CAP envisioned and helped form the Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership (GPREP).

This collaborative of private businesses, municipalities, the Tribal Nation, Yavapai County Supervisors, and our three colleges has as its mission to attract new primary jobs and capital investments that will expand, diversify, and sustain our regional economy.

Steve Walker is VP Yavapai College and CAP Board Member.

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