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Mesa mayor: Good jobs a base for good communities

LISTEN: Mayor of Mesa Scott Smith Talks About Landing Apple

PHOENIX — When it comes to creating great communities, the work starts at the office, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said.

He told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Bruce St. James Show that a bigger company creating quality jobs provides a base for a good community, one where other workplaces will want to open.

“There really is a ripple effect and the community feels that and they experience it and they benefit from that,” he said.

While there is a prevailing myth that some companies choose to relocate based on saving money, Smith said that’s not the case. They choose a new home just like a person would.

“We choose our community because we can get the cheapest or least expensive whatever, we choose it because it’s a place we feel comfortable in, it’s a place where we and our children can succeed.”

For Smith, large companies like Apple reaffirm that his city is doing a good job of attracting businesses that create those stable companies.

“They don’t come into these communities without a lot of research and digging deep to find out if this is a place where they can succeed,” he said.

He added that companies don’t just come knocking. Luring some of the big guns takes a lot of work behind the scenes.

“Bringing someone like an Apple or some of the companies we’ve met is not a stroke of luck,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of hard work and planning that goes on.”

Smith said it took his city about five years to get Apple to open in Mesa. To do that, it had to come up with a long-term strategy that would benefit both companies and the city.

“That strategy is based on putting the right infrastructure in, having the right regulatory environment and having a city staff that believe that they’re there to facilitate business success and not regulate.”

Part of that strategy is called StartUp Mesa, a partnership between the city government and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce. Basically, the idea behind the program was to bring businesses into the city to work together for mutual benefit.

“We wanted to bring the business community inside the city so we could better understand what their needs were, what their complainants were and what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong,” said Smith, adding that the program helps the city clarify its priorities.