Mesa officials are reviewing an advisory committee’s recommendations on how best to develop the lands around Falcon Field in the northeast section of the city.
The committee of business leaders from the area met over the past five months to formulate a strategy to strengthen the area assets and smooth out the challenges. The goal is to define opportunities Mesa can use to bolster area employment.
Mesa Mayor Alex Finter formed the seven-member committee after nearby properties were proposed for the Longbow residential development, and both area business leaders and residents expressed concern for more residential development close to the airfield.
The Falcon Field Economic Activity Area takes in 35 square miles of Mesa between the Salt River and Brown Road, and from Gilbert Road to Ellsworth Road. The city says there are approximately 19,000 people in that district employed by nearly 700 companies.
Falcon Field, covering 800 acres between Greenfield, Higley, McKellips and McDowell roads, is the fourth-busiest general aviation airport in the U.S. It is a major economic engine for the city, but its growth has stalled.
From a 2010 peak of 19,338 jobs distributed across 694 businesses, the area lost 391 jobs by 2013 and 23 businesses. Today, the Falcon Field area has about the same number of jobs as in 2007 with about 70 more businesses than before the recession.
If the City Council ultimately accepts the recommendations and implements a program to deploy the strategy, Mesa is expecting the Falcon Field area to be “recognized locally and nationally as a vibrant aerospace, aviation, and defense hub (and) a premier location for companies.”
The vision was presented to the council on Sept. 11 including goals, objectives, strategies and tactics for business development and branding and marketing.