The Western Maricopa Coalition (WESTMARC) recently launched its bimonthly series, West Valley Hot Topics. The speaker series invites experts in a wide variety of fields to speak about the West Valley’s key issues of business attraction and economic development.
The West Valley Hot Topics participants met virtually to hear several speakers discuss the critical issues of population growth, transportation, water and 5G technology. The series is sponsored by SRP.
“Maricopa is the fourth fastest-growing county in the nation, and over the next two decades over 50% of that growth will happen in the West Valley,” said Sintra Hoffman, WESTMARC’s president and chief executive officer.
Maricopa Association of Governments Regional Analytics Director Anubhav Bagley discussed the explosive growth in the West Valley. Between 2014 and 2019, the region west of the I-17 had an 11% population growth, she said. The growth is equivalent to adding the entire city of Tempe to the West Valley. The majority of this growth is concentrated in Buckeye, which experienced an annual growth of 5.25% since 2010. Goodyear’s growth is 3.4%.
Buckeye Economic Development Director David Roderique said Buckeye is the second fastest-growing U.S. city in the past decade. Despite the pandemic, data collected by the city demonstrated a 26% increase in single-family residential permits in 2020 compared to 2019. There is also 2.1 million square feet of new commercial development.
“For us, the two most important things are water and transportation,” Roderique said. An estimated half of Buckeye’s budget goes to new infrastructure, such as water and transportation projects.
Long-term water availability for Buckeye and the West Valley is critical. Roderique presented on Buckeye’s largest infrastructure project: Jackie Meck Water Campus. The $100 million project started in 2017 and is projected to be completed in 2022. The project will improve water facilities and water infrastructure throughout the city. The Meck Water Campus will cover 5,000 acres of land and is projected to process 6 million gallons per day, with the ability to expand to 16 MGD in the future.
Transportation is another of Buckeye’s important investments. Arizona Department of Transportation is making improvements to I-10 between State Route 85 and Verrado Way. Improvements will include the Miller and Watson roads interchange, drainage, sound walls and a freeway management system.
“We are looking at significant long-term planning for transportation,” Roderique said.
Ronald Klawitter, principal of water systems projects at SRP, presented projects intended to improve the capacities and infrastructure of the Roosevelt Dam and Verde River Reservoir. Improvements also include a pipeline project that will enhance movement of water throughout central Arizona. Some of the West Valley cities are part of SRP’s service area.
The West Valley will experience significant investments in 5G technology. Verizon is projected to deliver 5G to 230 million customers across the United States. This includes the West Valley.
“We believe that 5G really has the ability to transform things like transit, utility, public Wi-Fi, emergency response, health care and education,” said Jennifer Weaver, Verizon’s manager of network business development.