GV ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT GROUP
GREEN VALLEY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MASTER PLAN
An Initiative of the
Green Valley Council
Green Valley Recreation
Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce
The GVC Foundation, Inc., supports the development of an Economic Development Master Plan for Green Valley. The need for a strategic plan has been raised by the Green Valley Council, Green Valley Recreation and the Green Valley/ Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce. As partners—speaking with one voice—they have agreed to work together to identify objectives and actions needed to develop a more sustainable economy: one that would deliver on the concept that “Green Valley is a Premier Place to Live, Work, Play, and Invest.”
Green Valley is a mature community. It is also an aging community. The vibrancy experienced between the 1970s and 1990s has subsided since 2000. Before 2000, developers advertised widely about the advantages of living in Green Valley. The rise in population also brought in businesses to serve the community’s residents, even chain stores, such as Safeway and Walgreens. While construction of new housing developments continues, it does so at a reduced pace, especially since the economic recession of 2008.
Green Valley has seen property values flat line over the past several years. Business and home properties have been abandoned and several shopping malls do not have full occupancy. As Green Valley has grown parallel to the Santa Cruz River Valley, there is no central hub that defines the area. Instead the sub-divisions form a long rectangle along a north-south axis with businesses located along three major roads that cross-cut the adjacent I-19 corridor.
Over the past few years, community members have begun to express concerns about the long-term sustainability of Green Valley. Several meetings and forums have been held to discuss economic issues challenging Green Valley’s future.
Because it is an unincorporated community, Green Valley falls under the governmental jurisdiction of Pima County, which has the highest urban density in Arizona and insufficient resources to facilitate growth outside of incorporated areas of southern Arizona. Though non-governing, there are three primary organizations in Green Valley that work on behalf of the residents to facilitate civic and social welfare services with Pima County, leisure and recreation opportunities in the community, and regional business interests. They are the Green Valley Council, Green Valley Recreation, and Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce. All of them are working to improve the situation according to their capabilities and resources, and support the development of a master economic development plan.
In brief, the Green Valley Council (GVC) is the community’s voice in liaising with county, tribal, state, and federal governments. Its membership consists of 75 of the total HOAs within Green Valley or about 80% and approximately 13,000 households. It brings issues before the Green Valley community and makes known the concerns of the residents to the appropriate Pima County governmental offices. The Council has a Board of Representatives, an Executive Board, and seven Standing Committees, composed of more than 150 volunteers.
Green Valley Recreation, Inc. (GVR), is a nonprofit organization serving the leisure and social needs of the adult retirement community of Green Valley. GVR owns and operates one Member Services Center and thirteen Recreation Centers with a total property value of over $18 million. Green Valley Recreation provides many services and activities to a private membership base of over 13,477 households, which is estimated to be about 23,000 individuals or almost the entire population of Green Valley. Green Valley Recreation also has a 501(c)(3) Foundation which is currently developing a website, “Retire Arizona” www.retirearizona.org, that will provide information on real estate, ownership, and rental properties in Green Valley.
The Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce (GVSCC) has 555 business members, representing almost 70 different business categories in Green Valley and the Town of Sahuarita. The Chamber is the area’s Visitor Center, receiving around 4000 visitors a month during December, January, and February, and sends out a little over 1000 relocation packets a year. It also has a dedicated volunteer Economic Development Committee that is charged with business development and retention, workforce development, and environmental sustainability. It, too, has a nonprofit foundation affiliate.
Every ten years, Green Valley publishes a goal-driven community plan. The latest one was published in 2015, entitled, “Green Valley Community Plan: Roadmap to 2025.” This plan was ratified by the Green Valley Council and has been accepted by the Pima County Board of Supervisors for planning purposes. Though not intended as an economic development plan, many of the economic issues facing Green Valley are identified in the plan. This Community Plan and the proposed Green Valley Master Plan for Economic Development together would form mutually supportive pillars for planning the growth of Green Valley.
BENEFITS OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
What is becoming clear is that while everyone sees the need for “something to be done” no one group or one organization has the capability or resources to accomplish all of the objectives. And what is even clearer is the lack of a coordinated vision necessary to identify the highest priorities and gather together the resources to improve present conditions.
To address this urgent need, the three organizations named above have formed a partnership and created a Green Valley Economic Development Task Force that includes members representing the partnering organizations, consultants who have economic business and development expertise and advocates who speak for the businesses and residents. This Task Force will operate as a Management Group under the auspices of the GVC Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) affiliate of the Green Valley Council, a 501(c)(4) organization.
The first order of business for the Task Force is to develop an in-depth, strategic plan that outlines an agreed upon vision, identifies and prioritizes the steps involved, details funding, resources, guidance and marketing needed to accomplish the different steps, and provides measures for assessing how well the outcomes meet the expected benefits to the communities
There is no population estimate for Green Valley from the US Census for 2015, but it is growing from about 21,000 in 2010 to 23,000 plus today, according to the GVR estimate above. Improvement in Green Valley’s economic condition would not only benefit the Green Valley community but also the Town of Sahuarita, several smaller populations located in unincorporated communities along the I-19 Corridor, such as Arivaca, Tubac, and Amado, and the end points of Nogales, AZ, (also, Nogales, Mexico) and the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation. In all, 75,000 people and more would benefit from a robust economy: more choices, more competition, better customer service, and an overall better quality of life.
The improved economic environment would also help support tourists and seasonal visitors who travel to recreational and heritage destination points advertised and sponsored by the local Chambers of Commerce, Pima County, the State of Arizona, and Federal land departments throughout the I-19 Corridor. The visitation rate in southern Arizona during the winter doubles and nearly triples the size of the resident population and stresses the ability of local businesses to meet service expectations, often well beyond the breaking point.
To summarize, the development of a Green Valley Master Plan for Economic Development is necessary and timely. The recent economic development plan issued by Pima County and the community planning going on in the Town of Sahuarita makes this a perfect time to build on what is being done already and to partner with others to obtain mutually beneficial results. Furthermore, the Master Plan would become an essential tool in working with Sun Corridor, Inc., a private/ public, bi-national development organization. According to the Sun Corridor team, its efforts to introduce major businesses into Southern Arizona and Sonora Mexico, which represents a population of around 4 million people, has had a several billion dollar impact thus far. The economic environment of southern Arizona is changing and in order to be a fully functional partner and to direct the growth in Green Valley, the proposed Economic Development Master Plan for Green Valley is the necessary first step.
DEVELOPMENT PHASES OF A MASTER PLAN
The major components of a Master Plan are described below:
A comprehensive SWOT Assessment is needed to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats affecting Green Valley’s economy. The Internal Capacity Evaluation/Assessment for each of the partnering organizations and other stakeholders, yet to be identified, complements the SWOT assessment by zeroing in on available infrastructure and resources.
The next two components are also complementary in that the Action Agenda encompasses short-term and long-term action items, whereas the Targeted Sector/Opportunity Research identifies the most promising, near-term business and economic growth opportunities for which the Green Valley area can be competitive.
The final component of the plan includes the web publication of the Green Valley Economic Development Master Plan that charts the ways and means to better Green Valley’s economy. Scheduled assessments of the plan are needed to determine whether its implementation is succeeding or whether the plan requires revisions. These scheduled assessments would be paired with a web-based platform to gather input from the stakeholders, that is, developers, businesses, community members and other interested parties. The success of the plan would be related to the establishment of new economic opportunities, for example, new business entrepreneurs and new business ventures.
The Management Group for the Green Valley Economic Development Master Plan consists of a Chair, Kelly Cooper, and ten members: two representatives from eachof the organizations, that is, the Green Valley Council, Green Valley Recreation, and the Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, and experts to represent economic development, public relations & marketing, business interests, and community interests.
There is also an Advisory Board composed of executive officers and presidents of the three organizations. Local corporations, businesses, and others will be added as the planning moves forward.