A piggy bank

Each year, the Western Maricopa Coalition hosts the Economic Development Summit. Amid the coronavirus, it was only fitting that this year’s summit was titled “2021: A Year of Transition. What’s on the Horizon for the West Valley?”

The expert speakers shed light on how to manage one’s workforce in this new environment and how to adapt to changes in various West Valley industries. 

Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat kicked off the event with a virtual welcome and announced Peoria was voted the No. 1 city in Arizona to live, work and play. 

“We recognize that the long-term viability of our city is dependent upon our commitment to economic development and helping our community, as well as our region, realize the fullest potential,” Carlat said. 

In what could have been a four-hour conference about how businesses and industries have struggled during the pandemic, the focus remained on the West Valley’s new way of doing business and managing work teams. 

Arizona Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez was the opening speaker. Gutierrez explained how his team had to adapt to the pandemic and how Glendale rallied behind him. 

One of the biggest challenges, Gutierrez admitted, was deciding how to keep the fanbase happy and safe during COVID-19.

“Our No. 1 goal in bringing fans back was to create an experience in which they felt safe, they felt they could be there and enjoy it and enjoy it with their families, enjoy it with their children, with their loved ones. And I think that was something that we felt very, very strongly about, that we did accomplish that. We were able to open up as soon as the season commenced for the 2020-21 season, which was in January, and it was a sprint,” he said. 

Gutierrez acknowledged the challenges his organization, as well as the entire West Valley, have faced in the last year but said he’s confident for the future of both.

“My family, my wife, my son, this is where we live. We want this place to succeed,” Gutierrez said. “This is very top of mind for us in order to be successful, to reach out to this community to be present and not just sort of be around, but to truly be embedded in this community. To be embedded, not just for you, as elected officials or the nonprofit community, but to young people and to the business community.”

The rest of the conference was separated into three panels, each with a focus on ways to benefit the West Valley during the pandemic. The panel topics included returning to work post-pandemic, trends in employment, and growing West Valley industries and the area’s opportunities.

Various speakers focused on the cities they represented, including Goodyear City Manager Julie Karins, who homed in on its growth. 

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and there’s a lot of things that we can take into the future. Goodyear continues to grow. We did not slow down during the pandemic, so we had to manage this on top of the incredible growth that we already have going on in our community,” Karins said, adding that, now more than ever, “it’s a great time to be in Goodyear.”

In each panel, the consensus was clear that the West Valley is destined for continued growth, making it an exciting time for businesses and residents. 

Bobbie Mastracci, the designated broker and principal with Phoenix West Commercial LLC, stuck to the hockey theme in honor of Gutierrez, stating, “The West Valley is where the puck is going.”

For the future, Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said the West Valley can expect more developments as the population continues to grow and industries continue to develop strategies to be successful during the pandemic. 

“What’s been announced in the last few months, or even in the last six months, unparalleled level of capital investment,” Camacho said.

“What’s coming in the next 12 months is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and I think the history of our state.”

Info: westmarc.com