INTERVIEW BITES

Craig McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande
Casa Grande is the heart of Pinal County, and the place to live, work and play in Arizona. It’s the fastest-growing city in the state, the No. 1 light-industry corridor in Arizona and has a thriving local business community and downtown area featuring boutique hotels and winery/distillery tasting rooms.

Our full-time population is approaching 200,000 people, with winter visitors reaching 50,000 annually. We have two beautiful community centers with a connecting bike and walking trail system. There are four 350-room hotels/resorts and five public golf courses.

I see Attesa located in the City of Casa Grande and employing 5,000 people; Dreamport Village as the largest employer with 15,000 employees and PhoenixMart becoming the third-largest sourcing center in the world with 6,000 employees.

The Loop 303 south runs east and west through Casa Grande, connecting through Maricopa and Buckeye to the west and Coolidge, Florence and Apache Junction to the east and north. I-10 is four lanes in each direction heading north to Chandler and south to Tucson. And life is good in Casa Grande!

 

Donna McBride, Councilwoman, City of Casa Grande
Quality of life means different things to each of us. It reflects who we are as a community. While there are certainly different opinions of its true definition, we should allstart with the same foundation — respect for one another, embracing how we are more alike than different and the responsibility to mentor our youth by setting good examples of citizenship.

While these qualities sound simple, they are essential for sustaining a strong economy, successful workforce and a safe place to raise our families.

 

Jon Thompson, Mayor, City of Coolidge
The City of Coolidge engaged community members nearly five years ago during the kickoff of the 2025 General Plan Update. The experience and opinions of this diverse gathering developed a long-ranging vision for our community, which addresses the questions asked by Golden Corridor LIVING Magazine. In short, it is to have a warm, inviting and beautiful city with prospering individuals, strong families and active seniors. It will be a well-planned and managed city with strongand capable leadership.

The area’s cultural and recreational programs will flourish, and it will be the epicenter of educational excellence. We will have attracted quality businesses and industry, creating jobs to keep our young people working, prospering and growing a strong tax base that is reinvested in the community. We will continue to be a wise steward of our natural resources and will continue to be capable of delivering the necessary public services to support new growth. Our accepted laws and regulations will be sensitive to business and promote quality development.

To realize our vision will require continuous engagement by governments, private industry and business partners, nonprofits, schools, residents and religious institutions in this rewarding work. Community leaders are actively engaged in regional planning efforts to develop critical infrastructure that will improve major transportation systems in Pinal County, connecting this region to the urban areas of Pima and Maricopa counties.

We will continue to work toward our vision for the future, and will always seek the community’s input in moving in that direction.

 

Cindy Schaider, Retired Director, Casa Grande Alliance
Where do I see our community in 20 years? It will look very different, both by who lives here and what it looks like. Right now, it is attractive to seniors as a second-home community. It has that small-town feel, but plenty of amenities.If the four major projects on the books all go through, Casa Grande will be home to a much more ethnically and culturally diverse population.

The type of people who visit will be recreation seekers, rather than winter residents. And the community will be doubled in size. Growth is sometimes exponential. None of those things are bad, just different. I predict an exodus of residents seeking a smaller community.

 

David Snider, Governing Board Member, Casa Grande Elementary School District, former Pinal County Supervisor
What can we do to improve quality of life in our community? To-date, our city mothers and fathers have rightfully invested heavily in infrastructure. However, it’s now time to invest in quality of life elements that will truly make Casa Grande a great place to live and raise a family. These include actively supporting (financially and otherwise) community groups like the Veterans Center/HOHP, the Casa Grande Valley Historical Society, The Casa Grande Art Museum and the Casa Grande Youth Commission – just to name a few.

 

 

Matt Herman, Councilman, City of Casa Grande
What do I see as our greatest need? I believe that our greatest need in our community is education and workforce development. Casa Grande and the surrounding communities are doing a great job of attracting new industry and employers. We need to make sure that we as a community, have the available trained workforce that can help them succeed as a business. This will be accomplished by everyone working together — the City of Casa Grande, Pinal County, the school districts, Central Arizona College, AZ@work and local community groups, like Achieve60AZ. These types of partnerships and coordination will help lead us in the right direction for the betterment of everyone in the future.

 

Bob Jackson, former Mayor, City of Casa Grande & Judee Jackson, Governing Board Member, Casa Grande Elementary School District
Exciting new job opportunities are coming to Casa Grande and the surrounding region. Companies like Lucid Motors, Attesa and PhoenixMart are moving forward with ambitious plans that will create new employment opportunities. The number of job opportunities will exceed numbers beyond what Pinal County communities have ever seen.

Not only will there be thousands of new jobs available, they will require skill sets for which many in our local workforce are not prepared. Efforts to develop a qualified-worker pipeline are critical for the success of these new employers.

We are serving on the Achieve60AZ Pinal Committee, an initiative to step up efforts to build a more highly-educated population. Our goal is to contribute to the statewide effort of increasing Arizona’s educational attainment. The statewide goal is to reach 60 per cent of adults with a professional certificate or college degree by 2030.

Achieve60AZ Pinal is an alliance of people representing, business, education, government and philanthropy to re-energize regional collaborations to prepare our local workforce for jobs coming to our region through education.

 

Lisa Fitzgibbons, Councilwoman, City of Casa Grande
What can we do to improve quality of life in our community? First, we need to work with our fire and police to continue to make Casa Grande a safe place to live and raise a family. Second, bringing good jobs to our community is vital to enhancing the quality of life. We need to make sure our residents are able to live and work in Casa Grande. Third, we need to provide first-rate services to all of our community members, so they stay active and involved. Building the community center, increasing hiking/biking trails and maintaining and improving our city parks will help improve the quality of life for everyone in our community.

 

Mark Vanderheyden, Executive Director, Seeds of Hope
What can we do to improve the quality of life in our community? We must continue helping individuals develop workforce skills that will allow them to seek meaningful employment in our community. Too many employers have said our workforce is not trained in basic skills to get and maintain entry-level jobs. Many of our better-paying jobs are filled by people who live elsewhere. Schools and nonprofits need to work together to reverse this trend. Soft skills need to be taught and developed, which will allow employers the foundation to teach the requirements of their job positions. Meaningful employment is the strength of all communities.

 

Peter Redwine – Facebook citizen response
All three of these questions are intertwined. Our greatest need is to continue attracting businesses that require skilled labor. The more of our population that is making 150 percent or more of median income, the more our tax base will rise from the threefold effect of those people buying nicer homes, spending their disposable income in town and supporting lower-income service industries, which subsequently helps reduce dependence on the government.

Barbara Williams– Facebook citizen response
Our greatest need is to reduce the illegal drug trade coming into our community.

Karen Scott – Facebook citizen response
Our greatest need is an animal shelter for the City of Maricopa.

Barbara Nichol Kunz– Facebook citizen response
Our greatest need is public transportation. I have lived in smaller communities than Casa Grande that had public transportation. There were two buses — one ran the “east” route and the other ran the “west” route on the half-hour. It’s a no brainer.

Debra Sutton Rhodes – Facebook citizen response
What do we see as our greatest need? Wow, this one is so important as we have watched — over the years — businesses close, and usually it happens during the summer months. Why is that? Because unfortunately, we have a smaller population during those months, as we have built ourselves upon the snowbird cycle. We love the snowbirds and all the equity they bring to Casa Grande, however when they leave and the long hot days of summer hit, the electricity goes through the roof and the amount of people out shopping slows way down so that businesses find themselves either closing early on off days, shutting down for a month or so or literally throwing their arms up and saying, “it’s over.” We do our best to support local, but unfortunately it’s not enough. The coming plants, motorsports and possible entertainment park are great for us, but years away. How do we help keep businesses viable today where they can withstand the summers and be here year-round? It’s something to think about!

Harold Christ– Facebook citizen response
What do I see as our greatest need? Pinal County is in the transformation business. The county is transforming from a drive-through from Maricopa County to Pima County to becoming the pivotal development center in the Southwest.

What does it take to maintain the development Pinal County has and attract the pent up demand that is looking to locate here? It’s transportation. As the transportation corridors grew in Maricopa County, employment corridors followed. The same thing can be seen in the key areas of Pinal County along the I-10 corridor in the Casa Grande area. Pinal County enjoys exceptional leadership; now is the time to challenge ourselves to see all of the dreams and aspirations blossom.