Question: As a leader working with our business community, what do you see as the priority for local municipalities in working with the Arizona State Legislature in 2013 to build business and strengthen our local economy?
Marie Lopez Rogers
Mayor, City of Avondale
President, National League of Cities
Over the past year, beneath the headlines about downsizing and layoffs, mayors, business leaders and state officials have been discussing strategies to expand global economic linkages as viable sources of local economic growth with our neighbor, Mexico. California and Texas are far outpacing Arizona when it comes to imports. How are they doing it? First, they established a rapid, efficient and safe means to get goods and people through their borders. The Mariposa Port of Entry at Nogales is one of the 10 busiest cargo ports along the U.S.-Mexico border, and suffers a major bottleneck for freight and wait times that are some of the highest in the country. Arizona needs to improve its infrastructure at the border, and more resources in Customs are desperately needed. New Mexico created tens of thousands of jobs and moved from 38th to second in the nation in export growth with their recent improvements. It is my hope that Arizona State and U.S. Congressional legislators will recognize this need and work with us to improve our borders. After all, we are all border cities.
Marie Lopez Rogers was elected Mayor of Avondale in 2006, after 14 years as councilmember. Growing up picking cotton in fields where her City Hall now stands, Mayor Rogers never imagined that she would help guide the Valley’s transformation. She is Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Council, and President of the National League of Cities, which serves as a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities and towns.
Mayor, City of Mesa
President, The United States Conference of Mayors
Cities are the economic engines of our state that drive our overall success. If Arizona is to reach its full potential, cities and the state must work together to create an environment that enables businesses to prosper. This can happen only if their hands are not tied by burdensome regulations. Our legislators can help local government build a system that makes Arizona the most business-friendly state in the country. We need to empower and strengthen businesses by increasing collaboration between business and government, expanding access to capital, providing entrepreneurship education and removing barriers to success. As cities, we can share our experiences and best practices, build off of our wins and recognize that our competition is no longer other cities or states, but other countries that are finding ways to compete with American businesses. Working together, we can complete the toolbox we need to bring opportunities to Arizona. It’s time to work together to find a way to build a better economy for Arizona.
Mayor Smith just began his second term and is credited with stabilizing the city’s finances and putting Mesa on a positive fiscal path that withstood the recession. Recently, he led the effort to bring four legacy colleges to downtown Mesa and establish the Mesa Center for Higher Education. He is president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors — marking the first time an Arizona mayor has led the organization.
City of Chandler
As the mayor of one of the state’s largest cities (4th; 3rd in Maricopa County), my top priority is communication. Keeping an open dialogue is critical with those who represent us. Heading into the upcoming session, I have been meeting with members of our delegation to discuss our thoughts and concerns. As a former state senator, I understand the challenges they face. I also believe the state legislators who represent Chandler do an excellent job. We all encountered some tough tests during the recent recession. As we pull out of the economic fog, it is vital that the state no longer go after funding sources for cities like state-shared revenues (an agreed-upon portion of state tax revenues that are funneled to municipalities) or highway-user revenue funds (known as HURF funds). I also remind our representatives that, while the state creates broad economic policy, development occurs mainly at the city level — where we have created solid infrastructure and developed strong work forces and quality-of-life communities that attract employers.
Mayor Jay Tibshraeny began his 5th term as mayor of Chandler in January 2011. The Chandler native served in the Arizona State Senate from 2003-2011. His service in the community includes work with the Chandler/Gilbert Association for Retarded Citizens Advisory Board, Child Crisis Center Advisory Board and ICAN Site Advisory Committee. A small-businessman and a citrus grower, he holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Arizona State University.
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