[btn]By Teri Carnicelli[/btn]
It was the possibility of a medical marijuana facility coming into their largely business and industrial area that spurred the creation of the North Mountain Business Alliance (NMBA) by concerned business owners.

Now, less than two years later, the area bordered by the I-17 freeway, 19th Avenue, Mountain View Road and Cholla Avenue has been designated as a redevelopment area by the city of Phoenix.

Founded at the end of 2011, the NMBA is a business organization created to improve the business corridor. NMBA works to protect, improve and provide education for the more than 600 businesses in the area.

The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the North Mountain Redevelopment Area at its Feb. 20 meeting. On March 28, NMBA held a community meeting where Mayor Greg Stanton, Vice Mayor Bill Gates and several staff members of city departments were present to answer questions relating to the new redevelopment area, and what it means for those local businesses.

“This redevelopment area is not just lines on a map and concepts on a paper; it’s time, resources and action by the city,” said Stanton. “The old way of doing business in the city has gone out the door. We’re learning lessons on how we can be smarter in doing business, and in a more efficient way. You have to be innovative in an economic downturn.”

Being designated as a redevelopment area means that businesses inside the NMBA boundaries have access to greater resources, such as loans, federal block grants, more intensive blight and graffiti abatement, sidewalk improvements, and other resources that aren’t available to other city businesses.

The next step is for the NMBA members to come up with a plan that sets goals for the area, with a vision of what they’d like to see it become in the next few years. By putting their plans to paper and filing them with the city, future businesses that want to open in the area that aren’t compatible with the NMBA vision will face an uphill battle, both with the group and with the city Planning Department.

“If this is successful, the NMBA area is going to have a brand,” Stanton said. “It will say, we’re a community; we support each other. That helps with federal funding, and with new business recruitment.”

NMBA has been active long before the redevelopment area was approved. The organization co-sponsors monthly business workshops, received approval from the city for 31 street toppers marking the area as the North Mountain Business Alliance corridor, hosted a successful holiday food drive for the Desert Mission Food Bank, and recently launched its own website: www.nmballiance.org.

In addition, NMBA now participates in the city’s Adopt-A-Street program, tackling both sides of 19th Avenue from Peoria to Dunlap avenues. NMBA had its first clean-up day on March 30 with the help of many of its members, the Sunnyslope High School Key Club and Principal Steve Ducey.

“You have done so much already, you have truly made this (redevelopment area) possible,” said Gates. “I’m excited to see what it can become in the future, and this process is part of that.”

The next meeting of the North Mountain Business Alliance is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, June 6, at the SSC Boring Building, 1951 W. North Lane. Topics to be discussed include a Metro light rail update and tapping into the Local First Arizona movement. For more information, e-mail Marcia@sscboring.com or call 602-997-6164.


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