Free Market on McDowell Road?

This op-ed appeared in the Scottsdale Republic this morning.

Scottsdale Gateway Alliance welcome force for McDowell Rd.

Who says nothing is happening on McDowell Road? The Scotts­dale Republic reports that there’s a “newly formed Scottsdale Gateway Alliance” that is “spearhead­ing an effort” to revi­talize McDowell Road and the surrounding neighborhoods. The SGA is a wel­come addition to help increase activity, opportunity and invest­ment in the southern part of our city. The SGA’s primary focus along McDowell Road is aligned with the No. 1 priority identified recently by the City Council: More must be done to improve this historic corridor.

Government plays an important role for land-use planning and in providing infrastructure or in gathering input from citizens. Yet private interests are paramount to make the area vibrant once again. In the end, government staff and citizen task forces can ac­complish only so much. It’s the private, free market that ultimately invests in improving the area, one property at a time.

Recognizing opportunities and gath­ering resources to make positive changes have been occurring in the area somewhat right under our noses. Property owners, business owners and residents are coming together in an organized fashion to lend their vision, time, talents and money toward enhanc­ing parcels and breathing life into neighborhoods along the McDowell corridor.

SGA President Jeff Berghoff has transformed an empty and deteriorat­ing former car dealership into an im­pressive new home for his residential and commercial landscaping business. The group’s treasurer, Dana Close, has been a dynamo in organizing beautifi­cation efforts and reinvestment in her 30-year-old community called Hacienda del Rey.

Others involved in SGA’s founding have a vested interest in the area and are enthusiastic about the potential. They see their grass-roots effort as a catalyst to encourage others to take a new look at the McDowell Road area as vital to the long-term health and pros­perity of this important gateway from Phoenix, Tempe and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The organization’s website, scottsdalegate­wayalliance.com is full of their passion and vision.

Skysong’s Innovation Center is at the important intersection of McDowell and Scottsdale roads. It’s a critical an­chor created and managed by Arizona State University and an incubator and accelerator for companies employing more than 1000 people currently. Some of these companies will expand their operations over the years, leading to possible plans to move outside the Sky­song facility to nearby properties. We must plan for this exciting and organic growth to assure that potential new property owners, entrepreneurs, in­novators and tenants remain in Scotts­dale, preferably along or near the corri­dor.

I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and savvy of the SGA board and will lend my support to the organization in every possible way.

Suzanne Klapp serves on the Scottsdale City Council.

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