Located 75 miles southeast of Tucson, the city of Sierra Vista, AZ had an ambitious plan: to significantly boost economic development and become the premiere sports tourism destination in the Southwest. The city had a clear vision that would benefit residents and tourist alike. The improved sport facilities and amenities would allow residents to enjoy an active lifestyle year-round and draw tourists from across the region for sports tournaments hosted in the beautiful surroundings of Sierra Vista.
However, the city lacked the funding to make the sweeping changes needed to bring this vision to life. The sport fields needed significant upgrades to be eligible for certain types of sports tournaments and to be competitive with the other cities in the region. In addition, many of the well-used athletic venues and their city facilities had costly maintenance needs that were piling up.
A Master Plan makes it possible to invest in economic development
Sierra Vista approached the project with a long-term master plan in mind to take what seemed like a deficit — the need for city-wide energy improvements and upgrades — and turn it into an asset to achieve long-term goals.
City leadership decided on an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) that could tackle many challenges and make transformative changes all at once. These projects work by upgrading infrastructure with more sustainable technologies which lowers utility costs and generates cash for reinvestment.
In 2019, Sierra Vista and Schneider Electric began implementing the first phase of their large-scale economic development plan:
- Added synthetic turf solutions to five soccer fields, which will save water and provide year-round use — furthering the city’s commitment to being a sports tourism destination.
- Upgraded 454 HID sports field lighting fixtures with high-efficiency, NCAA-approved Musco LEDs at 17 fields and courts across the city, making it better able to attract sports tournaments.
- Overhauled electrical infrastructure, which allowed for more flexibility and event capabilities at the city’s primary outdoor event space.
- Replacement of the inoperable wave machine to offer residents a unique recreation option and add a revenue stream to the city.
- Energy efficient upgrades at multiple city-owned facilities including new LED lighting, upgraded HVAC equipment and improved water/wastewater control.
With these upgrades, the fields are now available for use 365 days a year and can welcome any organization from recreational teams to international and collegiate teams to the community for trainings, games, tournaments, ID Camps and friendly matches.
Modernization’s tangible effect: Immediate positive economic impact
Sierra Vista has enjoyed an immediate positive impact. Thanks to the new, sustainable fields, the city hosted an additional 28 tournaments and brought 11,490 more visitors into town. And the extra foot traffic filled the local restaurants, hotels and businesses. From the time of implementation in 2019 until 2021, the city saw a positive economic impact of $3.3 million overall.
With the project producing such promising early results, the city decided to move ahead with a second phase that expands their ability to invest in more innovative technologies to further advance their long-term goals. In this next modernization push, they are expanding the impact to include:
- Overhaul of an older, out-of-use sports complex, with new artificial turf fields, new LED lighting, gym HVAC upgrades, ADA pathways and more.
- Switch to smart irrigation system at 16 parks which will cut water usage and optimize sports field conditions.
- Sustainable solutions throughout the community including new EV charging stations, LED upgrades at the airport and new solar parking solutions.
- City-wide energy improvements including more LED lighting, additional HVAC and new roofing that save utility costs, boost efficiency and contribute to sustainability goals.
Together, these two phases of infrastructure modernization are expected to produce $138M in positive economic impact over the next 25 years. Given the exponential gains from economic development, the infrastructure improvement plan will more than pay for itself. Most important to city leaders, these investments will have a significant, positive impact on the quality of life and economic outlook for all of Sierra Vista’s residents.
At Sierra Vista, a master plan made it possible to prioritize the key areas for investment to reach their goals of becoming a booming sports tourism destination.
Sustainable strategies can boost economic development for any community
Capital recovery and reinvestment programs allow government leaders to secure new sources of revenue to tackle more than they ever imagined — without taking money from community programs or increasing taxes and fees. As these local leaders have experienced, it is possible to drive economic development in your community and to also fund your vision for improved facilities, technology, safety and security and so much more.
The pandemic has continued to disrupt many cities and counties when it comes to making impactful, positive community investment and responding to rapidly evolving demands on existing infrastructure. Investments in sustainable infrastructure will position municipalities to respond to changing population demands, new climate objectives and pressures and the ever-increasing drive for economic growth, all while creating much-needed budgetary stability.
Public-private partnerships can help local governments advance their economic and environmental objectives in tandem. These financial enablement solutions provide additional access to capital with reduced financial and operational risk. With significant stimulus funding available, a partner like Schneider Electric can help you select the right financial model based on your unique financial and operational requirements and goals of your project.
Learn how municipalities of all sizes are making sustainable changes for the future in the eBook, Built to Last: A Sustainable Infrastructure Primer for Local Governments.