We are looking at a new day in Gilbert, Arizona.
Yes, we are already nationally recognized as one of the best places to live in the nation, and we know we operate at a high level of efficiency that provides a great quality of life for a significant value.
But there is a lot of excitement to come, and 2012 is a great year to start. Gilbert is at “half time,” you might say. In regard to residents and actual build out, we are two-thirds there. But we have a significant milestone that we are focused on achieving, and that is building our economy, and, in turn, building our identity.
Gilbert is full of promise and is not a place that is just home, it is a place with potential for providing high-paying jobs for the visionaries who live here. This is a community that has a lot of opportunity that we can achieve with some hard work and focus. That is what 2012 will be about, as we look to implement specific initiatives that I will share with you, and focus on building a strong economy.
Let’s start with the economy. As you know, we have a strategic initiative that we build from our growing identity as home to internationally renowned experts and facilities in the bio-medical and life sciences. We are fortunate to be home to professionals who make international headlines for their work to save lives. We have a strong work base of highly educated residents, particularly in the sciences. We have a General Plan that lays out strategic locations and even provides a vertical overlay allowing for some mid-rises, which are attractive opportunities in appropriate regions for potential employers. We have boundless potential, and the staff to put in the work needed to see it to fruition.
This year we have seen a growth in the economy, as our sales taxes continue to rise, at a steady pace. We also saw a significant increase, as you know from my prior updates, in new home permit activity. We ended the year with 121 permits in December, for a total of more than 1,500 new homes begun and built in Gilbert during 2012.
I have spent significant time with our dedicated staff, reviewing how our community can continue to support our quality of life, and get to that next level, and I plan to roll out a series of initiatives in 2012. I will update you on each initiative as we move forward. Among the first will be a digital communications plan, and a strategic effort to reach dramatically more residents with news and information about their town. The Town Council approved a communications manager position last year, and this month we are posting the job listing for that manager who will also serve as our Chief Digital Officer. I am looking for a visionary leader who has the talent, experience and belief that we can put ourselves on the map as a leader in proactive and engaging communications. We hope to have this new leader on staff early this year, so we can strengthen our ability to fulfill our promise of a culture that demonstrates the strength in transparent government.
The State of the Town Address
The year 2011 was an important one, and I encourage you to attend Mayor John Lewis’s State of the Town Address, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 19, at Town Hall, 50 E. Civic Center Drive, for the annual review of the year and a look forward to 2012. There will be a reception at 6 p.m. with refreshments.
A Hero’s Welcome
One of the accolades Mayor Lewis will touch on is our Town’s receipt in 2011 of the coveted Freedom Award, signifying our support for our staff members who are sent abroad to serve our nation. On Thursday, January 12, we will honor one of those staff members, Army Captain Edward Miller, who is also a Gilbert Police Officer, and recently returned home from Iraq. I encourage you to join us in what has become our hero’s welcome, at Town Hall, 50 E. Civic Center Drive. You can nominate your own Gilbert hero upon their return, at www.gilbertaz.gov/operationwelcomehome.
Gilbert Giving Back
Lastly, I wanted to end this week’s update with a thank you for your involvement in our community, and best wishes for the new year. Our staff truly considers themselves part of a community family. Over the holidays, the Gilbert Fire Department and Gilbert Police Department collected thousands of toys to distribute to our local children. We thank you for your support in those efforts.
~ Patrick Banger, Town Manager