Recently, representatives from Elliott D. Pollack & Co. and IO Inc. presented an overview of their comprehensive 5-year Stategic Plan for economic growth in northern Arizona, including a SWOT analysis, comparisons to similar areas, and six overarching goals needed to sustain and increase the economic vitality of the region.
The strategic plan, commissioned by ECoNA, identified the workforce housing gap, slow population growth in the region, and anti-growth sentiment as the biggest challenges facing our area.
“No economy remains static; it either progresses or regresses,” said Ioanna Morfessis, President and Chief Strategist for IO Inc., who added that strategic plans like the one created for ECoNA were not about “growth for growth sake” but preserving the assets of the region while creating opportunities for the next generations to live and work here.
The strategic plan presenters noted that the housing gap is impacting not only people hoping to buy homes, but also renters, a majority of whom have to pay more than 30% of their income towards housing costs in Coconino County. That makes it harder for local businesses to find the workers they need, particularly younger workers who are currently in college.
“The workforce pipeline is here,” said Danny Court, Senior Economist with Elliott D. Pollack & Company, “but we don’t have a place for them to land once they graduate.”
The economic strategy roadmap identified six goals that should be collaboratively worked on in the next five years:
- Streghten and improve locational assets and business climate, including creating an inventory of “shovel ready” sites for development and implementing a confidential survey for businesses to establish a measurable baseline of perceptions and concerns about operating a business in the region.
- Invest in and build quality of life or quality of place necessities and amenities, including workforce housing and supporting the special needs of the commuter workforce.
- Develop and grow the region’s workforce through collaboration, education, and training.
- Expand investment in infrastructure and growth capacity.
- Invest in, expand, and evaluate economic development programs and resources.
- Strengthen existing and build new regional, state, and federal partnerships to leverage economic development opportunities.
Our committees and Executive Board will be reviewing the many suggestions contained within the Strategic Plan over the coming weeks to prioritize the activities ECoNA and its partners should pursue for responsible regional economic growth in northern Arizona.
Upcoming webinars to explore specific topics in the report will be offered in September. The webinars will be at 10 am. Each webinar begins at 10 am and you can attend by clicking on the links below.