by Mayor Jon Thompson, City of Coolidge
It was a pleasure delivering the State of the City address to our Coolidge Chamber of Commerce and community members in May. Coolidge is on a path to a brighter future with growth in our business community, new homes and many new projects starting to take shape.
Nikola Motor Company chose Coolidge in late 2018 to serve as its manufacturing headquarters. This $1-billion capital investment and upward of 2,000 jobs was much welcomed news. Interest in the area continues as Nikola becomes the first company to lay down roots in the Inland Port of Arizona, an area reaching Coolidge’s southern border.
Another major company in Coolidge is expanding its presence. Stinger Bridge & Iron recently brought some additional acreage into the City. Its bridge projects can be seen all across the country including the nearly completed Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach, California. The company is playing a key role in this $1.2-billion project.
Our financials continue to improve and more efficiency has been applied around the City. Our City Manager, Chief Financial Officer and Council are always looking at ways to maximize the dollars we receive. We were able to pay off a fire tender (1½ years early) and fire pumper (2½ years early). Additionally, we have renegotiated contracts with our police software provider saving over $85K annually and City health coverage saving over $96K annually. The City has also implemented an investment policy that could earn over $160K in interest.
These are just some of the major steps our staff has been able to achieve over the year, and I anticipate even greater improvements as we carry on through 2019.
Roadways have also been a top priority for the City. Our maintenance program throughout Coolidge ensures better driving conditions for our citizens. This program has already helped improve miles of roads, and we hope to continually add more improvements in the coming years.
Our Parks and Recreation Department continues to strengthen its participation numbers in various sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball, T-ball and softball. The department also installed a new playground in Landmark Park. This playground is a welcomed addition to our citizens in the western side of the City and adds additional activities for children to take part in.
The Coolidge Library is also experiencing tremendous growth. In 2018, over 70,000 items were checked out. This represents a 12% increase from 2017. The library is well received by the community and offers many programs for children, teens and adults. Since the opening last year of the multipurpose room, lectures, trivia, story time and more have filled the room each week. The library is a great resource, and the Council and I are very pleased with the results.
The Fire and Police Departments continue to implement great training courses and further their acts of service in community events. Our first responders do an excellent job in assisting those in need. They also participate in a wide variety of outreach events like the Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods, community softball games, Special Olympics and more.
Finally, I’d like to end with some great news that will tremendously improve our Coolidge Municipal Airport. The FAA recently awarded the City a $9.5-million grant. This award will help improve aging runways and restore them to full operational status. The airport is always looking to improve each year and new tenants are moving in. I believe Coolidge Municipal Airport will be one of Pinal County’s premier airports in the future, supporting increased flight operations and an abundance of aeronautical businesses. It will possibly become much like Mesa Gateway Airport.
I’m proud of the work our City staff has shown in all their achievements. This year looks to be even better with nearly 100 new homes being built, a robust budget outlook and companies exploring the area to lay down roots.
Our achievements now play an important role in the surrounding communities. With the addition of Nikola’s manufacturing facilities to call Coolidge home, the whole region benefits with increased job opportunities and a crucial path to create even more. Working together produces the kind of results all of Pinal County benefits from. When we foster a community of unification, the end product produces an abundance of opportunities in which we can show Arizona, the country and the globe our readiness to compete in the global marketplace.
I look forward to working with local businesses and cities to help move these opportunities forward to benefit the entire region.