Economic dislocations can open new chances for entrepreneurship - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Economic dislocations can open new chances for entrepreneurship

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Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2005 9:26 pm | Updated: 8:54 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Now that the rancorous Riverview election is behind us, maybe we can get on with the important task of solving some big problems confronting Mesa.

While the high-quality Riverview at Dobson development will be a major boost for the entire northwest corner of Mesa, other older areas of the city need attention as well, even as revenues flatten out.

Critics of Riverview pointed to the aging Fiesta Mall area farther south as more deserving of a special project that might include developer subsidies. And indeed, the new owner of the mall, Westcor, may ask the city for some help.

The commercial area around the mall also needs the city's attention, and prospective developers may seek aid as well.

Meanwhile, many of Mesa's arterial streets are crumbling, and there's not enough money in municipal coffers to fix them all. Mayor Keno Hawker has warned on these pages that some hard decisions lie ahead as the City Council struggles to pay for basic services such as public safety and still provide the amenities Mesa's residents have come to expect.

It is easy to target the lavish Mesa Arts Center as a major cause of the fiscal pain, but it also is viewed as the key to downtown revitalization. Indeed, anyone visiting downtown Mesa these days can't help but notice the new investments being made there, including the classy refurbishing of the former Valley Bank Building. Downtown's renaissance will generate tax revenues that will help pay for the Arts Center.

Opponents of Riverview did their best to exploit the public's unease with economic dislocations, including the mass movement of auto dealers from older business districts to newer freeway interchanges. But such shifts are inevitable in a free enterprise system. The challenge we face is not stopping them, but making the most of opportunities such shifts create.

The exodus of auto dealers from Mesa's central business districts will free up property for enterprises better suited to serve the anticipated influx of visitors who not only will be attending events at the Arts Center, but also will be looking for dining and shopping options. Private investors, not municipal bureaucrats, are in the best position to determine what should go where. The city can and should help with infrastructure, such as streets and utilities, but otherwise should stay out of the way.

Mesa has always been a city of opportunity. The challenge now is keeping it that way as older areas need more attention and revenues don't quite cover the demands of its growing population.

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