Growing a downtown, building community wealth, enhancing public transit via autonomous vehicle options and highlighting ways to maintain a Connected Surprise, were all addressed in Mayor Sharon Wolcott’s 2018 State of the City speech, Monday night from West-MEC’s Lightbox.
Speaking to over 100 audience members and more through Facebook Live, Mayor Wolcott talked about how the city has performed well in previous years to build the foundation that will allow the city to grow responsibly in the future for all generations.
Mayor Wolcott detailed the attributes for what is required to create a true downtown- from walkability to comfort and access. She expressed the city’s desire to work with the private land-owner to achieve a Downtown Surprise that creates a sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
She championed how the voter-approved Decide Surprise GO Bond election will provide much-needed infrastructure in the areas of Public Safety, Traffic Congestion Mitigation and Pavement Preservation.
And she honed in on the importance of technology in moving Surprise forward. “As we continue to grow Surprise, it will be imperative to keep up with technology and innovation to remain competitive in the future,” she said.
She introduced the city’s new Economic Development AIMS tool, which focuses on Advanced Manufacturing; Innovation; Medical Travel; and Signature Retail in growing the city’s employment base of high-wage earners.
She also discussed how autonomous vehicle technology is a game-changer in meeting public transit needs; and expressed the city’s exploration into bringing this technology to Surprise.
The recent agreement between Surprise, Buckeye and Maricopa County was a highlight of her speech in how agreeing to preserve open space surrounding the White Tanks and planning for sensitive development in the area are critical components to maintaining quality of life in the Northwest Valley.
She applauded the public, private and charter schools; and Ottawa University for their strategic efforts to educate our future workforce.
“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again - Economic Development begins in Kindergarten and our education partners are doing some amazing things to grow the future workforce,” she said.
She discussed the importance of voter-engagement in the May 15th Water Election, that if approved will grow the city’s surface water allocation by 38%.
Mayor encouraged residents to “carry it forward” and find new ways to be part of growing the community in whatever fashion possible.
“Voting is an important way to engage, she said. “But, another great way is to roll up your sleeves and get to work with your community members.”
She referenced options to volunteer at the Senior Center, a school, a local non-profit, city commission; or for the younger residents to join the Surprise Youth Council.
“By making the right decisions today, we can be sure to build a city for those that are not even here yet - the future generations of Surprise, “ Mayor Wolcott concluded. “Our fore-fathers and mothers did it for us. How humbling it is to be in a position to pay it forward.”
The event was sponsored by the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce and hosted by West-MEC.