Ideas Blooming in South Phoenix
There is always something about the spring season in South Phoenix (SoPho) that brings a high level of optimism to me each year. Colorful birds and butterflies are migrating through our beautiful South Mountain and Rio Salado habitats. Wild Sonoran desert flowers, cactus, shrub and tree blooms paint the mountain side with vibrant yellows, oranges, purples and reds. The spring winds pick up and carry the fragrance of hundreds of thousands or citrus blossoms, mainly from lemon, grapefruit and orange trees. This year however I wanted to share why I felt even more inspired than usual. It only took for me to attend a spring training game in Goodyear and to hear and read the announcements that were made by giant’s Google and Tesla Motors’ of possibly choosing Phoenix/Arizona for their Google Fiber and Gigafactory.
First Google announced in early February that Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale were being evaluated to be a part of a national high-speed Internet Fiber network known as Google Fiber. Google Fiber operates at Gigabit speeds, basically this type of Internet connection eliminates any buffering time and could offer our market high-speed cable and Internet services that are up to 100 times faster than any current speeds offered by local providers. Cities that are connected to this type of Gigabit Internet Speed are much stronger and have created an environment of innovation that spurs new opportunities and jobs for entrepreneurs, educational & healthcare institutions, and businesses. My feeling is that we cannot let an opportunity like this pass our community by and we need to take every step possible to ensure South Phoenix has a chance to be a part of this world class technical infrastructure if Google choose Phoenix. This type of 21st century technology would allow all of our residents and businesses to compete as a super connected community that could attract and create the global atmosphere needed for a competitive and sustainable Phoenix economy.
Tesla also announced shortly after Google in February that they were looking to build a new $5 billion battery Gigafactory facility that would open in roughly three years and employ 6,500 people. With four states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas) doing their best to land Tesla Motors’ new Gigafactory, no one has yet become the front runner and likely winner. Can you imagine if Tesla Motors’s choose to build in South Phoenix and eventually produced enough advanced, lithium-ion batteries for 500,000 cars around the world per year. This idea brings up all kinds of questions in my mind. Would this factory change the trajectory of our city and community in a positive way? What do we need to do to get the political and economic will to pull out all the stops to entice Tesla to come here? Even if we do have the political and economic will to pull this off do we have a strong enough pool of highly skilled workers and the infrastructure to support the requirements of Tesla’s Gigafactory?
I don’t know all the answers but we should be begging the question so we can create real economic growth for the future of our community. I do know that we have huge parcels of contiguous land in SoPho and Laveen and it would be a shame if they choose a distant suburb community in Arizona and go back to an old way of doing business. Even if we don’t land Tesla we need to position ourselves to go after competitors and other global power houses that could have the same type of economic impact and are willing to integrate into our vision of a highly connected and sustainable community.
Last idea, I promise. In March I was able to enjoy a sunny and cool spring training game with a friend. The game was hosted at the Camelback Ranch in west Phoenix and we watched two of my favorite teams; the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. As I was there I could not stop asking myself… Why doesn’t our SoPho community benefit from the nearly $700 million economic impact spring training has on the Arizona economy? I am convinced now more than ever that its time to bring Spring Training to SoPho! Could you imagine attending a game at the base of South Mountain Park?
It could be the new crown jewel of all cactus league stadiums with amazing city and mountain views, cultural arts & dining, and recreation galore with access to hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, cycling and on & on. There is land available right at the base of South Mountain and Central Ave. The land is not restricted as part of the preserve, it’s large enough for a stadium, the parking lot has already been built and the land across from it is zoned for commercial development. To top it all off, the land is all owned by the City of Phoenix.
I’ve been thinking about this idea for awhile and I am going to start a grassroots movement with some friends to see if we can start getting the interest from the powers that be to make this vision a reality.
I look at these SoPho and Laveen ideas kind of like a mature citrus tree. One mature citrus tree can produce hundreds of thousands of blossoms, yet only two percent or less of these blossoms ever become edible fruit. The heavy blossom production is nature’s way of assuring that insects, attracted by the trees fragrance, pollinate the maximum of flowers possible. I hope my little visions of what our communities can become will create as many new blossoming ideas as possible. I guarantee you that eventually we will produce the sweet fruits of a vibrant world class community. Dream big!
Written by Victor Vidales
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org