United States Conference of Mayors Update

Scott Smith
USCM President and City of Mesa Mayor

As president of the US Conference of Mayors, I have focused on building the economies of America's and Arizona's cities and towns. As part of this effort, I have emphasized manufacturing, transportation and infrastructure, and developing export markets, especially trade in North America. Recently, I've had the opportunity to participate in conferences and meet one-on-one with leaders in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere to formulate plans of action to accomplish this task.

A few weeks ago, I attended the White House Mayors Manufacturing Summit where we discussed strategies for competitiveness in manufacturing with Senior White House Administration officials including National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Manufacturing in the US is not the same today as it was yesterday. We may not be the leader in low-cost small item assembly line production (nor should we desire to be), but we do have a strong base in sophisticated and precision manufacturing. We do this as well, if not better than anybody in the world. We must accentuate and build upon our strengths. To accomplish this, cities and towns will need to work with not only private industry, but with state and federal governments. This has to be a partnership, and we are working diligently to coordinate our efforts.

Enhancing our manufacturing industry will help reestablish the US as the world leader in the design and production of goods. In order to produce theses goods, we need a reliable way to transport raw materials in, and finished products to buyers around the world. This task is made more difficult by our reliance on an aging and crumbling transportation system. In order to be more successful in manufacturing and rebuilding commerce, we need to invest smartly in our infrastructure. Whether it's new or improved highways, bridges, railways, or sea and air ports, we can't get products where they need to go without efficient corridors designed for trade.

The economies in Mexico and many other Latin American countries are growing faster than the US. We are maturing while they are still growing. In addition, Canada is one of Arizona's largest trading partners. Our state has good, but not perfect, east/west transportation corridors, but a seriously inadequate north/south corridor for trade. Our lack of a good north/south connection puts Arizona at a disadvantage when developing trade opportunities. Texas has I-35, New Mexico has I-25. Without a comparable asset, Arizona may not able to compete in the future.

During the manufacturing summit, I spoke with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx about transportation challenges in Arizona, especially our need for an improved north/south system in and out of Mexico, specifically the proposed I-11, AZ 189, and I-19. Before going to DOT, Secretary Foxx was the mayor of Charlotte. He understands very well the relationship between transportation and opportunities for economic growth in cities and towns. I will continue to work with Secretary Foxx on these and other issues where the federal government might have a role.

It is important for cities and towns to work directly with Washington on certain issues. Expanding export opportunities and improving transportation infrastructure are just two of these areas. I have been privileged through my involvement with the US Conference of Mayors to be a voice for Arizona in Washington and to have direct contact with decision makers who have an impact on our cities and towns. By working together, we can better our communities and create opportunities for our residents. This work needs to be done in our neighborhoods, our cities and towns, at the State Capitol, and in Washington, D.C.

League of Arizona Cities and Towns
1820 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ  85007
Phone: 602-258-5786
Fax: 602-253-3874

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