Reflect. Rethink. Respond!

by Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande

Reflect on Casa Grande’s rich history. It is named after the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, which is located in the city of Coolidge. Coolidge was founded in 1925 and incorporated in 1945. I hate to remind Coolidge that the city of Casa Grande was founded in 1879 and incorporated in 1915, we were the city of Casa Grande before Coolidge was Coolidge.

Today, we are a city of 55,000 full-time and 25,000 winter residents, or approximately 80,000 residents during our fall/winter/spring months. The city limits include 110.2 square miles, an elevation of 1,398 feet, and we are located between Phoenix and Tucson at the junction of I-10, I-8 and the Union Pacific Railway.

Rethinking Our Way of Doing Business

We are rethinking our processes, our revenue streams and our way of doing business. We need to rethink the way we have been doing business for the last 50 years. Basic life needs may not change, but how we do things moving forward definitely is changing. Here’s how:

  • Education is critical for us to compete in the future, and we need to make sure our children and grandchildren have opportunities to succeed.
  • Workforce development today will not look the same in 18 years. The World Economic Forum estimates that 65 percent of children born today will end up in jobs that don’t exist today.
  • Transportation and infrastructure will need adapt to electric self-driving cars, fully automated warehouse/manufacturing and a growing/changing demographic.
  • Quality of life needs will continue to evolve as all the above factors take effect.

How Will We RESPOND?

We will respond/Adapt by learning from our past, anticipating the future and preparing to take action. The city of Casa Grande’s vision is a good starting point: “Leverage current economic climate, new opportunities and our strong community to improve quality of life, civic pride and quality jobs. Casa Grande’s strategic location and strongly motivated city leadership will honor diversity and provide opportunities for all residents to be successful. By building a sustainable and attractive community we can create a place where people can safely live, work and play”.

The following goals and strategic action plans is directionally where I would like to see the city go. Some of it is already in the works (thanks to your council’s and city staff’s hard work), and others are in the planning stages. Some of these items are my thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the views of your entire council. I believe we need to build a response to anticipate the future, establish goals and build a plan of action.

Community Marketing:

  • ULI (Urban Land Institute) downtown Main Street ideas and plan (March 2019)
  • Buy Local (on-going 2019)
  • Community Marketing Organization marketing business and community (begin 2019)
  • Blight removal (on-going)
  • Repurposing old, closed buildings (set meetings 2019)

Quality of Life:

  • Neon Park (April 2019)
  • City park investments $8.6 million Carr McNatt Park and $2 million Dave White Regional Park (2019)
  • Casa Grande Peart Resource Center (opening March 2019)
  • Community Center (opening May 2019)
  • Re-introduce city of Casa Grande’s trail system plan (2019)
Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande