Corey Woods

by Corey Woods

What most notably stands out about your leadership style or what is an example of leadership success you can share with our readers?

It’s my goal as a leader to work with others in a collaborative fashion. It’s important to our community that our city council works in partnership with our residents, businesses and nonprofits. Bringing all voices to the table for a robust conversation almost always results in a better outcome. 

A successful example of a collaboration is the City of Tempe’s Hometown for All program. This effort was born out of a need to create more affordable and workforce housing opportunities. I worked diligently on housing issues during my two terms as a councilmember. Since that time, affordable housing has become a national issue, not just a regional one, so we as a city have accelerated our efforts. I had conversations with our city staff and city councilmembers to ascertain which methods might work best and pass legal muster, especially when traditional tools that other states use have been prohibited in Arizona. Our resulting program, Hometown for All, allocates 50% of certain permitting fees paid to the city to buy land and buildings or to otherwise incentivize the creation of affordable housing. In less than one year, we’ve raised more than $6 million. I’m really excited about the future opportunities that this very collaborative process has brought us. 

What impact has COVID-19 or the disruptions of the past 18 months had on you as a leader?

It’s clearly challenging to start your term in the midst of a global pandemic. Regardless of circumstances, residents still expect to live in a high-quality city with well-run services. As a council, we had to figure out a way to deliver that.

Early on, we worked with the private sector to identify employers hiring and bring them people looking for work. We provided small business loans and grants to those trying to stay afloat or expand. We helped in every way we could.

The work of the city couldn’t just come to a halt. Innovation came out of necessity with an eye toward serving the public. We shifted to virtual programs and meetings. Our city council is now back to meeting in person, but we’re still employing a hybrid format to accommodate people who are either not ready to gather or who may not be able to attend in person for work or other reasons. I think this is one of the innovations that will stand the test of time.

What do you feel we can be doing as a business community to empower economic growth here?

Continued partnerships with our education community — ASU, Maricopa County Community College District, our local K–12 school districts — are all very important. High-quality educational opportunities are critical to our local and regional businesses. Almost every business entity that talks to us about locating in Tempe is extremely impressed with our schools, from pre-K through college. 

Housing is obviously a critical issue as well. Recently, I met with a group of hotel managers. The top issue they brought up was a lack of affordable housing for their employees. Hoteliers are able to recruit people but retaining staff is a challenge because of commute times, gas prices and all the factors of living further away from their jobs. Restaurateurs and retail shop owners would likely share the same opinion. Attainable housing is critical to a thriving economy and business community. 

Maintaining partnerships with our business community is vital. Those open lines of communication keep you connected to the policies, culture and climate needed to maintain a healthy, prosperous economy.

What is new and notable for your company’s near future that will impact our economy?

We are in the process of starting a new BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) manufacturing program. Working with two Tempe-based co-manufacturing spaces, we will provide grants to cover the cost of space, raw materials and equipment and offer a network of business coaches. 

This program will not only start new businesses, it will help them succeed. We know there are so many creative entrepreneurs in our community who can benefit from this opportunity, and diversification of business ownership is healthy for a community.

Name of Leader: Corey Woods
Position of Leader: Mayor of Tempe
City Name: City of Tempe
No. of Years as Mayor: 2
Main Local Office Address: 31 E. Fifth St., Tempe, AZ 85281
Phone: (480) 350-4311
Number of offices in Greater Phoenix: 1

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