The fast-growing city of Mesa is one of the largest cities located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. In terms of size, this suburb covers 138 square miles and dominates a large portion of the East Valley. In terms of population, Mesa houses nearly half a million people.
The prosperous Sonoran city has been a desert hotspot for farming since 1883, but, just like any thriving suburb, the area grows exponentially each passing day. As the valley becomes denser as more and more houses are built, Mesa faces exciting changes into an entirely new direction. One man especially invested in Mesa’s new and upcoming future is Arizona State University’s Rick Naimark. As associate vice president of the university’s program development, Naimark mentions that his job entails taking ideas for new campuses and research facilities and turning them into a reality. One of his upcoming projects includes bringing the ASU Creative Futures Laboratory vision to downtown Mesa. “I get to work and partner with the city of Mesa and help bring a new and incredible facility to the downtown Mesa area,” Naimark explains.
Every year, people from out of state travel to Mesa because of its museums, mountainous hiking trails, desert parks, traditional Southwestern food, and, most importantly, the ever-popular Chicago Cub’s spring training facility. This still bustling city is one of few Phoenix cities with a history so long. Like most other towns and cities in Arizona, residents were originally drawn to the land because of agriculture. Now, residents are drawn to the city because of its warm climate, reasonable housing prices, and proximity to major freeways as well as other major Arizona cities.
Although, like any large city, some neighborhoods located within Mesa struggle with economic hardship. That’s where the Opportunity Zone program comes in, giving these financially distressed areas a chance to flourish as a result of private investments. The Opportunity Zones are low-income sections within the city that, with the right resources, have great potential to grow economically. Mesa alone is home to 11 of these zones, all spread out around the city.
Executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, Scott Turner, oversees the program and ensures that the Opportunity Zones are being utilized. He mentions that the program is here to “bring about public, private partnership and side with these distressed communities for transformation, for job creation, for new and existing expansion of business for affordable housing stock, for quality education, [and] for crime reduction.”
Along with the ASU design school update, the city of Mesa has even more plans in store. In February of 2018, Caliber purchased eight retail buildings located in the heart of downtown Mesa that will provide new office spaces, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
With extensive change on the brink of Mesa’s future, those invested in the city are sure to enjoy it's new and upcoming offerings. “We're really excited to be part of Mesa's developing story.” Naimark says.