Where is Scottsdale today? Where do we want it to be in the future? What is the common ground that will lead us to that vision of the future?
Those were some of the questions discussed at Scottsdale Forward 2015, held Fri., March 27, at the Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center.
Rep. David Schweikert (AZ-R) and former Sen. John Kyl (AZ-R) keynoted the annual forum, providing a unique perspective of Arizona at the national level.
“Scottsdale Forward celebrated its fifth year of bringing economic development content to the business community and the public,” said Rick Kidder, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce. “Each year, the forum also serves as an advocacy call to action for attendees to ensure that Scottsdale and the region remain competitive and attractive as business environments.”
Designed as a program that ultimately leads to actionable outcomes, Scottsdale Forward 2015 featured some of the greatest talent in economic development, presenting issues and trends in business attraction, retention and expansion.
Differing from other forums where results are brought about by only high-level stakeholders, Scottsdale Forum extends all the way to the grassroots level — dedicated members of the general public have just as much a say and just as much an opportunity to bring about change as business and political leaders.
Furthermore, Scottsdale Forward creates a springboard to action based on agreeing viewpoints rather than dissecting divergent opinions. The ultimate goal is to develop consensus on addressing the economic development direction of the city and the region.
Over the years, Scottsdale Forward has been an integral part of highlighting or developing economic development strategies and initiatives for the Scottsdale Area Chamber. For example, the chamber developed the Oasis Initiative as a result of Scottsdale Forward. The Oasis Initiative is a novel “connect the dots” outreach program targeting visiting business executives. Instead of Scottsdale serving as little more than a place to attend a conference to get away from the cold, the Oasis Initiative seeks to showcase the city as a vibrant place where companies outside of the area can do business.
Scottsdale Forward also creates Focus Initiative Groups, which meet during summer to provide actionable items for the chamber to address. Some of initiatives examined in previous years include workforce issues, plans for an innovative rental car center in Scottsdale, and groundwork for a concierge mobile phone application for relocating employees and their families.
Representatives from several state and regional economic development organizations also took part in the 2015 program.
Danielle Casey, director of Scottsdale’s economic development office, presented the city’s new economic development master plan, and highlighted some of the impressive wins transforming Scottsdale into a technology and medical innovation hub.
“Scottsdale: The Family Feud,” a presentation of the different visions for the city, region and the state, was central to the event. More than 1,000 responded to a variety of questions regarding Scottsdale through a powerful online survey instrument, identifying where we are alike, rather than where we differ. The goal of the survey was to provide a strong framework for collaboration in the city to address the future.
Presenting sponsor for Scottsdale Forward 2015 was Salt River Project, with keynote sponsors CenturyLink, Cox Business and DMB Associates Inc. Additional support was provided by APS, Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, Cigna Healthcare, Scottsdale Healthcare, Wells Fargo Bank, Arizona Bank & Trust, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Control Technology Solutions and FirstBank.