SURPRISE, Ariz. — One Phoenix suburb is doing something right in enticing residents to live and work there.
Surprise has been ranked the fifth-fastest growing city in the U.S. by Wallethub.
The data analysis looked at 515 U.S. cities varying in population sizes. It looked not only at how many people moved to that city between 2009 and 2015, but also at its job opportunities and economy growth.
Finding Surprise in the top five came as no surprise to Sharon Wolcott, the city’s mayor.
“We’ve always known that Surprise had a lot going for it and that it’s a very attractive place to live,” she said.
Population numbers in Surprise have more than quadrupled since 2000, when only 30,484 people had a Surprise zip code. By 2010, the city’s population had grown to 117,000. Census estimates place the current population at 128,000, according to Wolcott.
“We never really stopped growing, even during the economic downturn,” she said.
She pointed to a continuing effort to create more jobs so residents in the West Valley city don’t just live there, but also work there.
“Ninety-one percent of our workforce leaves the city every day, going to another job in another part of the Valley,” she said, adding that her city is working to change that.
In the last five years, Surprise has seen more than 300 new businesses and about 1,000 new jobs, Wolcott said. Among those companies setting up shop in Surprise have been IRIS USA, Cobalt Medical Rehabilitation Hospital and MainStreet, which is slated to open this fall.
To entice new businesses to come to Surprise, Wolcott said the city is investing in infrastructure, while keeping the books balanced.
The city also looks to residents to help foot the bill for service improvements. The 2016 general obligation bond is seeking $63 million for enhancements across the city, including for permanent fire stations and road improvements. Voters will get to decide on Nov. 8 during the general election.
No other Valley cities made the top 50 in WalletHub’s rankings.
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