The first, the Economic Development Strategic Plan, will assess changes to the economy that may have resulted from Covid-19, the housing crisis or other local and global factors, and then work to identify strategies to maintain and improve a robust, prosperous and resilient economy in the years to come. It will set the economic development course for the city for the next five years.
The second, a Workforce Development analysis and plan, looks at the composition of the workforce in Flagstaff and in the areas around it. It will focus on who makes up our workforce, where they live, what skills they have and what skills they need. While much of the responsibility for workforce development sits with partners such as the State of Arizona, Coconino County and workforce-oriented non-profits, the City Council recognized the community challenges in this area and directed staff to assess what role the City of Flagstaff should play or how we can best support these efforts.
To accomplish these goals, staff completed a competitive process that identified two impressive firms to bring their knowledge and expertise to bear on the issues. Stiletto, Make a Point, has been retained to drive the economic development strategic process forward. Keen Independent Research was identified and contracted to support the Workforce Development Analysis. As these two issues and community processes will obviously influence and impact each other, Stiletto and Keen have been working together to align the plans and share data for more efficient and effective efforts.
With these activities, city staff are grateful for the willingness of our community partners to provide their valuable time to join focus groups and share their expertise and insight. Also, 500 members of the public answered the call to complete the economic development survey that was released in early January. A variety of perspectives were presented. The insight and context those surveys provide will be instrumental in determining the most critical opportunities and challenges facing the community’s economy, and in determining the best investments of the city’s Economic Development Bed, Board and Beverage tax allocation.
One thing we do know already is that Flagstaff has great companies and institutions here that deliver great jobs. We have large, international manufacturers and a thriving entrepreneurial community of small businesses that deliver incredible growth and prosperity. Institutions such as Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College provide jobs directly and also develop our workforce for the jobs and skills of the future. Tourism remains a major economic driver, and alongside it, Flagstaff has stronger bioscience and astronomy sectors than most other communities in the Untied States. This city has a highly educated workforce and is positioned well for measured and manageable growth.
Processes such as the ones that the City of Flagstaff is undertaking currently are important to ensure strategies are driven by data and reflect the experiences and perspectives of the community. It is exciting to be taking a deeper look at the present to better prepare us to impact the future effectively and intelligently. FBN
By David McIntire
David McIntire if the community investment director for the City of Flagstaff.