This monthly feature takes residents behind the scenes to find out about projects at the City of Globe as staff advance their four pillars of community wellbeing – specifically public safety, infrastructure, quality of life, and economic development. This month highlights work being done to make our city business-friendly and our community attractive as a means to encourage new business recruitment.
Melissa Steele is the Economic Development Specialist for the City. She works to help local businesses thrive and new businesses get started. However, she says business owners have told the City it has not always been easy to do this in Globe. “Because the public report this process is confusing, with needless delays, we want to streamline it,” Steele says.
To that end, the City looked at its new business recruitment process, researched how other communities try to support local businesses, and decided to reorganize its community development structure. A month ago, City Council passed a resolution that created a new Economic and Community Development position and appointed Linda Oddonetto as director to oversee the work being done by four city departments: Economic Development, headed by Melissa Steele; Development Services, with Michelle Yerkovich as code enforcement officer and Carl Hacker as building inspector; Besh ba Gowah, with Leana McGill as museum supervisor, overseeing both Besh and community recreation requests along with her clerks, Elizabeth Beltran and Aubree Silverburg; and Zoning, with Dana Burkhardt as zoning administrator.
Councilman Mariano Gonzalez explains, “The new planning department is basically a one-stop shop. We can see when a business is coming into town, we can hold them by the hand as they do startup. As they do development and purchase property, we can walk them through all of those procedures and ordinances. We can help them all the way to the opening, and then as they go through their business life cycle, we can help with inspections, maybe even grants. We have a full-service department now.”
“Council is trying to cut red tape and make things easier, so this reorganization is part of that,” explained Steele. “We are making it more user-friendly. If everyone is under the same umbrella, nobody gets dropped and nobody gets confused. It’s one department through the whole process until opening day.”
To support this coordination, Steele says, “I’m working on a packet which is basically a flowchart: here’s where you start, here’s how you get through the City requirements, here’s all the information and phone numbers, and here’s everything else you need to know if you are new to the City of Globe.”
Though the reorganization was done to reduce confusion, a few aspects might seem a little perplexing. When asked why Besh ba Gowah, the City’s archeological park and museum, is in this department, Steele says, “It’s so we can support their marketing. They bring in a lot of tourism and are the reason some people discover Globe.” Steele says the City sees Besh ba Gowah as an amazing ambassador for the community and wants to support their efforts. “If we are working to promote the entire area, this partnership makes sense.”
Code enforcement, also now under the umbrella of economic and community development, is about a lot more than helping new businesses start, and the reason for its inclusion is not immediately clear. Steele clarifies, “It’s a whole economic rising. Code enforcement is about economic development, if you think about new people moving here. If they see broken windows, they won’t want to choose us.”
A step prior to promoting Globe to new businesses or tourists is to make Globe more visually appealing to newcomers. This is accomplished by both reducing blight and adding beauty. Blight – such as trash, weeds, broken windows, collapsing fences, and inoperable vehicles – blocks positive community connection and growth, and community beautification supports economic development.
Councilman Fernando Shipley says, “If we want others to invest in our community, we need to invest first, and this can be sweat equity and labor. As my mom always told me, ‘You don’t have to have money to be clean.’”
His sentiments are shared by many. To this end, there have been a number of blight reduction projects in town, including the historic cemetery clean-ups organized by Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton and Supervisor Woody Cline, community clean-ups organized by Regina Ortega-Leonardi with the Trash Mobbers and Globe Clean and Beautiful through the City of Globe, and the code enforcement efforts of Yerkovich. In nine months’ time, these groups have cleared over 4 million pounds of trash from our local streets, washes, and historic sites.
If you’re interested in learning more about business support, community clean-ups, and other local resources, please contact the Community Development Department through the City of Globe at (928) 425-7146. You might also consider attending Mayor Al Gameros’s State of the City event scheduled for September 30 at 5:30 p.m. in Veterans Park (the park outside the Municipal Building). The mayor will update the community on all that’s being done in response to recent challenges (e.g., COVID, fires, floods), share community improvement campaigns, and answer questions about City priorities and planning.
Shipley is a big supporter of this event, stating, “I think most people aren’t aware of what’s actually happening at the City. It helps to know what the challenges and hopes are.” This event is being held outdoors to support social distancing and will be made available for viewing after the event on Facebook and YouTube.
Stapleton sees tremendous possibilities for economic growth for our community. “It’s huge! Within the last few years, it’s really moving. Things are happening that most people don’t know about, like the Mickelson Building project. People are coming and walking around town and interested in our community.” Steele agrees and feels the recent business support reorganization will support the process. “It’s part of the new wave coming. There are people moving here already, and we can’t keep houses on the market!”
Thea Wilshire works as an author, psychologist, speaker, healthcare consultant, and AirBnB host. Her passions include community development, the creation of public spaces, trying new adventures, and sharing her therapy dog with schools and medical facilities. Find her blog at https://www.acornconsulting.org/blog.