Progress Applauded, Future Planned

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"I am in awe of the successes you have made," said Peggy Fiandaca, president of Partners for Strategic Action. She has been helping Payson with its Focused Future work for at least 20 years.

She worked with APS and the Town of Payson to prepare the materials for the March 31 Focused Future II Summit, which included revisiting the FF2 Strategic Plan for Economic Development prepared during 2004 and 2005.

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Payson Community Development Director Jerry Owen leads the Focused Future II Summit group in a discussion about the community infrastructure's role in economic development.

She said the community has enjoyed successes through its citizen leadership academy, expanded participation in boards and committees serving the town, enhanced collaboration between government entities, businesses and residents, plus improved public communication.

She said one of the key elements indicating this success is the increase in voter turnout, from 35 to 78 percent, between 2002 and 2006.

Fiandaca also cited the growing health care industry as an indicator of success. She said Payson Regional Medical Center has made an $8 million investment in the community bringing new technology and services to its clients, building nurse training services, creating at least 30 new jobs and bringing in 19 new physicians.

"Your hospital is one of the top 100 hospitals in the country and it has opened a 3,000 square-foot outpatient imaging center," she said.

She commended efforts by the Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce in their work tracking retail and health leakage (spending out of town) and the combined efforts to address the work force housing issue.

"Sales tax revenues are up each year," she said, "with the total revenues exceeding your population growth.

"Your school bond was passed by 75 percent. Beautification efforts are continuing at the schools and the number of graduates is up. The students' AIMS test results are up, as are the ACT scores. Gila Community College's enrollment and credit hours are up." To build on that progress, keynote speaker Kent Burnes talked to the estimated 80 FF2 Summit attendees about making Payson a "Cool City."

He urged participants to support innovation, grow your own talent and commerce, enhance diversity, invest and build on the quality of place and think regionally and act locally.

Burnes suggested doing more to show people how to get to Green Valley Park and the other public recreational facilities. He said there is a need for more Internet cafes and to have visitor-oriented businesses open after 5 p.m.

"If residents don't use what is being offered, why should visitors?" he asked. Then, he said, it is time to stop planning and "pull the trigger" -- take action.

"You can do anything," he said. "Never accept failure. Choose goals that uplift your life and your community. Write those goals down and put them in a place where you will see them every day. Talk to yourself and your co-workers like a winner, use positive self-talk. Make a list of your talents and read it daily. Expand your courage by taking risks."

Participants broke into focus groups to review the goals and strategies developed in the FF2 plan and then prioritized the goals and strategies it was determined were still viable and added new ones in some cases. The summary of these discussions will be published as soon as they are made available from the FF2 Summit planning committee.

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