Major Industries and Commercial Activity
The arid, warm climate of Mesa has made it a top-flight locale for aeronautical industries that range from manufacturing to educational. Boeing maintains a facility at Falcon Field Airport where flight control panels are created, tested, and installed in freighters. The Mesa plant was the site of the development of the Apache Longbow helicopter during the 1990s and continues to research and develop military aeronautical equipment. Boeing Training Services and Systems not only equips pilots with the latest knowledge in flight but puts together training packages that can be administered to prospective pilots in other locations.
The local airports host a number of aviation training businesses, including Arizona Aviation, Eagle's Roost Aviation Services, and Professional Flight Instruction. Airplane and helicopter medical transport, maintenance, and tour operations range from Airevac Services to Eagle Rescue.
TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc., is the subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company and stands at the head of Mesa manufacturers. The plant produces vehicle restraint systems and other safety equipment, which is sold to automakers from around the world. TRW has been on the leading edge of safety system integration of restraint belts, air bags, crash sensors, and steering wheel technologies. Some of those restraint and safety systems might find their way into the heavy machinery and large vehicles produced by Empire Southwest Machinery in Mesa, where buses and caterpillars are researched and refined. The Empire Regional Training Center offers classes in machinery management, maintenance and repair as well.
The technology of golf has evolved into a thriving industry in Mesa. A sophisticated golf driving range and PING Swing Analysis Lab at Arizona State University East supports not only the golf-related majors at the college but also serves the community in perfecting its game.
Items and goods produced: aeronautical equipment, military equipment, vehicles, vehicle safety systems
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
Local business development assistance is available through the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO), a partnership between the public and private sectors in support of community development and community reinvestment. NEDCO oversees the Business Development Loan Program, along with Individual Development Accounts that stimulate the creation of small businesses. Funding support comes from joint ventures between NEDCO and its partner financial institutions, as well as New Markets Tax Credit and private social investment dollars. NEDCO's Mesa Grande Commercial Revitalization Program works hand in hand with low income neighborhood groups to further development of cooperative housing and microenterprises.
The State of Arizona encourages businesses to invest in areas with higher poverty and/or unemployment rates through its Enterprise Zone Program, which provides income or premium tax credits along with property tax benefits. Construction of industrial and manufacturing facilities is supported via the state Private Activity Bond program. New businesses at the Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa can take advantage of the state Military Reuse Zone program, established in 1992 to lessen the economic impact of military base closures. Businesses sited at the former Williams Air Force Base can benefit from property reclassification, tax credits and transaction privilege tax exemptions.
Williams Gateway Airport also lies within a Foreign Trade Zone, an area that is essentially treated as if it were outside of U.S. Custom Territory. This allows for imported goods to be stored in the zone duty-free and without full customs formalities. Foreign Trade Zones additionally allow businesses to realize significant real and personal property tax reductions.
Other State of Arizona business incentive programs include tax credits for research and development, pollution control, and information technology training. The state also offers a Waste Reduction Assistance Program to new and existing businesses.
Job training programs
The Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) offers technical assistance and workforce training as part of its services locally. Maricopa Workforce Connections is a county branch of the state workforce development office, serving Maricopa County businesses and job seekers. Employers can access recruitment, screening, job matching, corporate restructuring, and job training services, while county residents in search of employment can tap into education and job training opportunities, career planning services, vocational counseling, specialized support services, job placement, and a national job database. The State of Arizona also operates the Arizona Job Training Program to tailor training plans to the evolving industry landscape. The Arizona Apprenticeship System maintains more than 100 registered apprenticeship opportunities that pair education with on-the-job training. The state's job workforce development programs are underscored by job training and hiring tax credits for companies providing specialized training or hiring employees in a targeted group.
The state of Arizona is experiencing exponential growth, as exemplified by Mesa's population and industry leaps over the past 20 years; this has spurred the state to institute "Growing Smarter" legislation in reference to municipal planning efforts. The city of Mesa's priority work plan for 2004-2005 demonstrates this careful approach as it lays out development strategies for the Williams Gateway Airport area, including recruitment of a new passenger airline, expansion of cargo services with a new 25,000 square foot cargo storage facility, and improvements to roads and utilities that make Williams Gateway a more attractive business destination. The city has been in negotiations with Cessna as a new Williams Gateway business, holding out as a carrot the great weather, skilled local workforce and business incentives available.
Looking even farther into the future, the "Mesa 2025" strategic plan has identified areas of focus for economic development for the next 20 years, including the 4,560 acres that comprise the Falcon Field Airport corridor (business park and industrial usage), the Town Center/Main Street corridor (light rail, other rapid transit, business development, historical, and cultural development), and the Santan Freeway corridor (a combination of residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use).
The city is participating in an ongoing redevelopment and historical preservation effort, with particular emphasis on the town center. Four sites in downtown are on the National Register of Historic Places: the Evergreen area, West 6th Street, Glenwood Wilbur, and Temple. In an effort to support older neighborhoods that are reporting decline, the City of Mesa has instituted a Neighborhood Opportunity Zone plan that coordinates residents, government, businesses, and non-profits in planning and implementing neighborhood improvements.
Largely funded by the 1998 "Quality of Life" sales tax, the Mesa Arts Center will open its doors in 2005 as a 212,775 square foot performing arts, visual arts and art education hub for the entire state of Arizona. The Arts Center was designed to reflect the aesthetic sensibilities of the Sonoran Desert on its exterior; inside is a complex of four theaters, exhibit space, art education classrooms, and Mesa Contemporary Arts' Galleries. The Mesa Arts Center is the largest facility of its kind in the state and is expected to drive economic development in the downtown area while it anchors the art scene locally and regionally.
In 2004 the City of Mesa developed a cutting-edge Transportation Management Center as part of its Intelligent Transportation System, using the latest technology to improve the flow of traffic through the city. Large-scale improvements on freeways, arterial streets and mass transit programs, funded by a proposition passed in 2004, will keep Mesa an accessible destination for businesses.
Mesa is served by two local airports, a major international airport 12 miles to the west, and a network of freeways, highways, and rail. The Williams Gateway Airport can accommodate corporate, cargo, military, and general aviation craft. A 21,500 square foot storage hangar and a 25,000 square foot air cargo facility are available for shipping concerns, and the airport resides in Foreign Trade Zone #221, allowing for landing and storing import merchandise without full customs formalities.
Falcon Field Airport doubles as an industrial park, offering a variety of charter, general aviation, and cargo flights daily. Sky Harbor International Airport, located between Mesa and Phoenix, is a major aeronautical enterprise that handles 788 tons of air cargo daily and has a $72 million economic impact on the area. The amount of cargo passing through Sky Harbor is expected to increase between 10 and 11 percent per year. Sky Harbor joins Williams Gateway Airport in Foreign Trade Zone #221, easing customs requirements for imported goods and providing some tax relief for those businesses.
Several freeways, U.S. highways, and state highways pass through Mesa, including U.S. 60 (known as Superstition Freeway) and state highways 87 and 89. The Santan Freeway 202 creates a bypass around the more congested downtown area, and Interstates 10 and 17 are quickly accessible from the city. Mesa is the headquarters for several trucking companies of national scope and is located conveniently near many more in Phoenix. Driving conditions are good year-round, and Mesa is within an 8-hour drive of Albuquerque, El Paso, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tucson, and several major cities in Mexico. Mesa is also served by Union Pacific Railroad, which has 32,832 miles of track in most states west of the Mississippi River.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Census data from the past three decades indicates that Mesa will continue to grow, and it's expected that the economy will grow apace. Despite its agrarian past, it seems likely that farming, fishing, and forestry occupations will decline within the next 10 years, while healthcare, education, construction, and sales will all likely increase their niche in the local job market.
Certain occupational areas such as architecture, transportation, and industry are expected to experience steady growth or remain stable.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metropolitan statistical area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,674,800
Number of workers employed in . . .
natural resources and mining: 2,000
trade, transportation and utilities: 339,600
financial activities: 137,400
professional and business services: 270,900
educational and health services: 172,600
leisure and hospitality: 160,500
other services: 64,200
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $13.84
Unemployment rate: 4.0% (January 2005)
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Mesa area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $254,751
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 99.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: From 2.87% to 5.04%
State sales tax rate: 5.6%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: .15%
Property tax rate: 0%
Economic Information: City of Mesa, Office of Economic Development, Mesa City Plaza, 20 E. Main Street, Suite 200, PO Box 1466, Mesa, AZ 85201; telephone (480)644-2398; toll-free (800)290-MESA
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