By Eric Newman
More than a hundred business professionals, local politicians and interested citizens attended Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels’ Economic Forecast at the Isagenix International building on February 15 to hear about the financial direction the city is heading in.
Cheryl Lewis, the vice president of corporate affairs at Isagenix International, a marketing company that sells dietary and personal care products, and J. Brian O’Neill, the CEO and executive director of Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport, both took the stage first to speak about the growing business reputation the city has harbored.
Among many awards, the Economic Innovation Group named Gilbert the “Most Prosperous City in the U.S.” in 2017 and WalletHub named the city No. 5 as the “Best Place to Find a Job” in 2018. Both executives said they project the job market will flourish in the years to come, with nearly 1.1 million people able to get into the city within a 30-minute driving or public transportation commute.
Mayor Daniels spoke next, saying Gilbert has seen major increases in both the economy and quality of life in the city over the last year.
“Gilbert is doing remarkably well,” she said. “We are so proud of this community.”
Though she said there was a decline in business permits in the city, the valuation of the permits has increased 47 percent since 2016, which is a good sign for more business in the future.
The last fiscal year also saw a 9 percent increase in sales tax generated for the city, up to $86 million in 2017, with a majority coming from retail businesses.
The Gilbert economy looks to be trending up, with 35 projects in place for the coming years. Among them is the continued development of the 272-acre Gilbert Regional Park. The town also has plans to develop baseball fields and other recreational facilities at Rittenhouse District Park, as well as the new Heritage District Parking Garage and Phase III of the Expansion for the Greenfield Water Reclamation Plant.
Though she could not divulge many of the other projects, since many of the plans are not completely set or do not have an exact completion date, Daniels said $366 million of capital is invested in the town, which will lead to further employment and opportunity.
“It is very likely that we will be announcing many thousands of jobs in the next coming months,” she said. “We’re very excited about the work that is being done to continue to put Gilbert on the map as it relates to business.”
Major employers in the town include Gilbert Public Schools, GoDaddy Software Inc. and the Town of Gilbert, among others.
The event also featured a panel discussion among some of the area’s top financial advisors, including Chris Camacho, the President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is encouraged by the growth Gilbert has seen, and said that the city would be best served to strengthen its education programs, specifically in science and technology.
“If we built a workforce campaign around the connected industries, automation or robotics, that are certification-tier technical skills, and we became the epicenter that supports aerospace and defense, microelectronics, all the new emerging industries, that lynchpin would make us the most marketable domestic market in the United States ten years from now,” he said.