Opinion: Public-private partnership forged will revitalize McDowell Road

Nearly 30 years ago the Scottsdale City Council had the foresight to establish the Scottsdale Industrial Development Authority, a nonprofit organization whose mission includes responsible economic development through business retention, expansion and attraction.

TIm Stratton

TIm Stratton

This public body spurs economic development by approving tax-exempt bond financing projects that benefit the City of Scottsdale, among other things.

As entities take advantage of the lower interest rates that tax-exempt IDA bonds provide, the IDA generates revenue through servicing fees on the financing. That revenue is earmarked for community support programs who share a similar mission to the IDA — sensible economic development and job creation.

When the Scottsdale Gateway Alliance approached the IDA for a $50,000 grant to execute a vision and planning exercise for McDowell Road, the IDA board approved their request after much deliberation and thought. This proposal fits perfectly into the type of community support programs the IDA finances. We believe this to be a natural partnership with local residents and small businesses dedicated to the revitalization of McDowell Road.

McDowell Road has been known by many monikers over the years, but it is time for a fresh, modern identity for the area. We have all seen the success city’s branding efforts have had on tourism and economic development.

A homegrown example is Roosevelt Row. Roosevelt Row was once an underappreciated part of Phoenix but has transformed into a vibrant, bustling point of pride for the city. I am not suggesting south Scottsdale mimic Roosevelt Row but instead establish its own unique identity.

The Scottsdale Gateway Alliance is the perfect private-sector driven partner to guide this effort. They have outlined an inclusive process that includes multiple stakeholder meetings, focus groups and extensive community outreach to collect communal input.

This isn’t a top-down approach but instead a genuine, authentic undertaking led by community and grassroots support.

Rebranding alone is not a panacea for robust economic development in the area, and to be clear, this effort is much more than the creation of a catchy slogan. This effort is a pivotal first step in proving to developers and investors that there is a strong commitment to the area from residents. This exercise will create a vision for the area, much like a comprehensive plan does for the city at large.

The IDA is excited about the opportunity to partner with SGA on this effort and we look forward to the economic resurgence of McDowell Road.

Editor’s note: Mr. Stratton is the treasurer of the Scottsdale Industrial Development Authority.

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