Economic DevelopmentFor many years Gilbert confused residential growth with economic development. For every new house that was built we collected fees. For every house built we had to provide: roads, sewers, fire hydrants, parks, police protection, courts, clean water, libraries, and fire stations. Simply not Economic Development.
When I was elected Mayor in 2001 I had a lot of work to do. Builders Magazine had just named Gilbert "The Worst Place in America to Build Anything". Houses were being built, but that is all. We had a population of 107,000 and didn't have a hospital, had two car dealerships and one 500,000 sq ft shopping center. The first thing I did was remove the impediments that were discouraging new businesses from locating in Gilbert. Next, I began an extremely aggressive campaign to bring commercial development to Gilbert. The results:
- San Tan Mall
- San Tan AutoPlex
- San Tan Villages
- Six new auto dealers
- Five new 500,000 sq ft shopping centers
- Three new hospitals
- Ten Million Square Feet of new Commercial Buildings.
When I hear the current Mayor and Council measuring economic development in terms new housing starts, I worry about our future . They have ignored Gilbert's voter approved General Plan and are rezoning our precious commercial property to allow building of apartments. It is bad enough they have not brought a single major employer to Gilbert since I left office. What is worse, showcase employers like Infusionsoft, are leaving Gilbert and building new facilities in Chandler. It's not too late to get back on the winning track: I know how to do it, I've done it before.