The City of Glendale, Arizona is experiencing unprecedented growth in both commercial development and job creation. Glendale’s economic development strategies have focused on increasing its tax base while targeting the creation of high-quality job opportunities. To mitigate any significant risks that could adversely affect the city during an economic downturn, the city has intentionally diversified its industries, thus creating a broad and stable range of revenue sources.
To better understand the impacts of this growth and the impact on the community, the city commissioned a report from Applied Economics, one of the leading economist firms in the Valley. This type of report provides exceptional data, transparency and accountability for residents.
The report results tell an exciting story about how Glendale has changed in the past decade since coming out of the Great Recession. The pipeline of new projects is currently enormous, positioning Glendale to further cement its place as a growth leader, not just in the West Valley, but in the entire region.
The city has also refinanced significant portions of its bonded debt, improved its bond rating, and dramatically increased its general fund balance. Increased revenue streams have lowered the city’s cost to issue debt, providing for the city to improve the quality of life in the community by enhancing critical infrastructure, like roads, intersections, trails, parks, libraries, and other facilities.
“With our successful formula of focusing on commercial development and luxury workforce housing, Glendale has become a major job center, said Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps. “Based on our City Council’s forward-thinking policy direction, we’re strategically growing our city with the types of projects we can all be proud of. We want to be a community with the types of businesses that provide great jobs and good benefits which will continue to raise the standard of living for our residents.”
The report focuses on a variety of key areas, including demographics, workforce and commuting, fiscal sustainability, benchmark comparisons and real estate.
• Both the general fund revenue per capita and Bonded Debt per Capita have significantly outpaced the County average. In Feb 2022, the city was rewarded for these efforts when S&P Global ratings upgraded Glendale’s existing General Obligation (GO) debt to ‘AA’ from ‘AA-“. At the same time, the City’s long-term rating on existing appropriation debt was raised to ‘AA-’ from ‘A+’.
• Over the past decade, general fund revenue increased by nearly 40% from $174 million in FY10 (adjusted for inflations) to $241 million in FY20. Annual general fund revenues are $62 million higher in FY20 than in FY15, with only a 6% population increase.
• Due to the increased investment from major global corporations that selected Glendale for their operations, one-time revenues have also increased from $4.5M in FY18 to $37M in FY21 on track for $44M in FY22.
• The number of jobs per capita is a measure of balance between residential and nonresidential development. Due to development activity, Glendale’s increase in labor force will be significant through 2050. At a current ratio of 0.40 jobs per resident, Glendale leads all West Valley cities and is ranked fifth in the County with more jobs per citizen than both Mesa and Gilbert.
• Glendale added 21,000 new residents since 2010, with 64% of that growth coming since 2015.
• Another measure of growth is related to the average age of residents. Glendale boasts a higher-than-average population for those ages 18-24. This indicates that the number of working-aged individuals is also growing in the City, while those over 65 are lower than average.
• A significant amount of the growth has taken place in the Loop 303 area, following 17 completed annexations encompassing over 3,800 acres. Additionally, there are six active annexations in process that will be completed this year. Those will add over 700 acres to the City’s existing municipal boundaries. Construction sales-tax-revenue has increased by over 140 percent and planning and permitting fees increased by 192 percent year over year. Most of the annexations are industrial projects, many of which are already occupied and operational.
“Our economic development team has driven this effort, but there has also been a supportive team approach which includes our water, fire, planning and engineering departments supporting new initiatives,” said Kevin Phelps. “This dramatic growth turnaround in a relatively short period of time, combined with the fact we have exciting projects such as the Crystal Lagoons Island Resort coming to fruition within the next year, prove that Glendale is well positioned for the future.”