Last week in "Here's Some Whine To Go With Your Cheese," we wrote about whining that some in the business community did at a recent Economic Development Forum that was hosted by the Town of Oro Valley and The Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce. It was a forum in which business had the opportunity to make a contribution to Oro Valley's 2015 general plan.
We felt that we needed to dig deeper. After all, "There were approximately 47 members of the business community in attendance at the forum, along with town staff, several council members and some "Your Voice Our Future" committee members. Certainly, there must have been more than complaining.
We found that there was. We asked for, we received and we reviewed a summary of and detailed notes from that meeting. Here's what we learned.
When asked, for example, how Oro Valley could create a downtown, one team suggested that the town look into Las Vegas' "Container Park.". What is that, you ask?
It is a gathering place that was created through the leadership of the Las Vegas business community. "The Container Park is the work of Downtown Project, the $350 million private redevelopment agency." (Source)
This is an inner-city project that was created to rejuvenate downtown Las Vegas. Essentially. It is a park that uses shipping containers for shops and entertainment activities. There are 40 shops and every shop is in a shipping container.
Innovative? You bet. Something Oro Valley could use to create a downtown? Who knows. Bold? Yes. Led by the business community. You bet.
Other ideas from the forum included:
- Education: thee theme of developing and fostering a relationship with Pima Community College and The University of Arizona came up frequently. "
- Annexation: Designate the fullest possible utilization for undeveloped State lands."
- Jobs: Create meaningful (our term for professional level) job growth and diversifying Oro Valley's employment base. Here, the "business incubator" concept we've previously explored was mentioned.
Clearly, the forum was a worthwhile endeavor.
What was missing?
Tucson's "Heavy Hitters" The money people.
For it is money and the prospect of making more money that drives economic growth.
Yes. One of the County's "heavy hitters", Diamond Ventures, attended. HSL Properties (La Encantada at Steam Pump Ranch) didn't come.
These are land people. And, in addition, there were many real estate people.
There should be far more to Oro Valley's economic growth than more homes.
Indeed, Oro Valley needs to attract significant businesses.
Yet, no one from the venture funding community attended. None were invited. There was no one from the Arizona Desert Angels investment group. They weren't invited. Two banks attended. Others were invited who failed to attend. No one from University of Arizona came, though they were invited.
Still, it would be good for the Tucson, county and State community to take a stronger interest Oro Valley, an interest beyond the obvious benefit of simply buying a piece of property intended for one use and then having it rezoned or re-planned for a more profitable use. That is not creative. That is lazy schlock. But that has been Oro Valley's history of business and economic development.
There are moneymaking, business opportunities galore in Oro Valley.
The Las Vegas business community built something of substance and value for themselves and for the community. It was something well beyond a "real estate" grab. Would you agree that it's time for the business community to build something wonderful in our town?