The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has named Goodyear this year’s winner of the Best City for Business Award for its business-friendly customer service and sharp acumen in attracting a wealth of industry to its city limits.
The annual award is given to a city or town that shows it can drive economic development, reduce regulatory burdens on business, and work with the business community to improve the local quality of life.
Goodyear more than fills those shoes, said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Chamber who will be presenting the award tomorrow, Oct. 14, during the annual Chamber Awards Luncheon.
“On behalf of Arizona job creators, we want to thank the city’s leadership and commitment to creating an environment where communities can flourish, and businesses can grow and thrive,” Hamer said.
No longer a sleepy golf town
Once a sleepy golf town for retirees, Goodyear has transformed itself into an economic force in attracting industry. Alongside strategic planning, competent, hardworking staff and a “supportive council,” two important factors helped drive growth, Mayor Georgia Lord said.
Elimination of bureaucratic red tape and the ability to quickly meet deadlines for industry.
“When companies decide they are going to plant themselves in Goodyear, we’re very aggressive about delivery dates,” she said. “They’re very challenging. I think of Microsoft and the kinds of companies coming in and you have to be on top of things.”
Over the past two decades, the city has become adept at advertising its Foreign Trade Zones, airport and prime location near major freeways.
The rewards? Distribution centers, data centers, warehouses, aviation and aerospace companies, healthcare facilities, restaurants, entertainment venues and much more. It has become a powerhouse for bringing big names to town including Microsoft, Amazon, McLane Foods, Macy’s, and Chewy.com.
Lord is the real force
Lord credits the economic development staff, city managers and council members who have worked as a strategic, cohesive team; the institution of a “lean” program to eliminate regulatory red tape; and a talented and hardworking staff that is able to juggle the demands of rapid growth.
Many will say the real force behind it all is Lord herself. Maybe it was her single mother who worked in politics and took her campaigning door to door year after year when she was a young child. Maybe it was being a military wife for 57 years. Or her many years working in real estate.
But whatever it was, the city started to jump when she stepped into civic life in the early 2000s.
She first became chair of the Goodyear City Center Technical Advisory Committee, which was responsible for crafting Goodyear’s downtown strategy. In 2005, she became a member of the city council.
Eventually, she moved up to vice mayor and then mayor. Now 84, Lord is finishing out her final term as mayor.
As she heads out, she will witness the cherry on top, she said. After decades of trying, Goodyear is finally getting a new city hall. The project will include a library, two-acre park and Class A office space — the newest and highest quality buildings on the market.
Award is endorsement from business community
The Best City for Business award was first introduced last year by Susan Anable, vice president of public affairs for Cox Communications to recognize economic development excellence. Anable is the immediate past chair of the Chamber’s board of directors.
Winners of the award are selected by a committee that includes business leaders from Arizona’s utility, manufacturing, commercial development, small business, retail, and restaurant industries. The committee analyzed data and city practices to assess how well it engages and works with businesses in areas like:
• Efforts to streamline processes
• Clear expectations on permitting and approvals
• Competitive fee structures
• Effective communication with stakeholders
• Knowledgeable and responsive economic development and development services staff
• Transparency in the public notice process
• City leadership and city manager effectiveness
• Flexibility in allowing businesses time to correct code violations
Prominent women in Arizona also being honored
The 2020 Awards Luncheon is the Chamber’s annual legislative wrap-up event that features an awards ceremony. In honor of the centennial celebration of women’s suffrage, the Chamber is also honoring four outstanding community and business leaders who champion business issues.
This year’s winners are:
• Senate President Karen Fann
• Rep. Regina Cobb, Arizona state representative
• Cara Christ, director, Arizona Department of Health Services
• Maria Baier, Phoenix Suns senior vice president of public affairs
All will receive their awards during the virtual event tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
For more information or to register, visit: Arizona Chamber 2020 Awards Luncheon.
This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.