Safford Downtown Association unveils strategic 5-year plan

Safford – The Safford Downtown Association (SDA) is ready to begin work on a new five-year strategic plan for revitalizing the downtown area. The plan builds on the Downtown Safford Vision Plan adopted by the City of Safford in 2006. The city has achieved a number of the goals and objectives outlined in the plan, including a $1.8 million streetscape improvement project.

Building on that original plan, the SDA felt it was time to revise the 2006 plan and update the priorities for the next five years. The overall goals of the plan are:

  • Create unique experiences by maintaining a healthy, vibrant downtown destination of diverse businesses, community events and cultural activities.
  • Continue to enhance downtown’s streetscape and aesthetics to create a welcoming environment, encourage commerce and foster community pride.
  • Foster a business friendly environment to attract new investment, strengthen existing businesses and broaden downtown’s overall economic base.
  • Enhance the knowledge and perception of the Safford Downtown Association and its value to the city and downtown as a whole.

The new strategic plan was made possible by a grant from Freeport-McMoRan. Using the grant money, the SDA enlisted L.L. Consulting to complete the strategic plan. Research activities for the plan included:

  • Focus group and stakeholder interviews
  • A community forum in which the community was invited to bring their ideas of what they would like to see in the downtown area.
  • Customer survey on the City of Safford’s website. The survey was open for four weeks and received more than 154 surveys.
  • Downtown business and property owner survey which received 29 responses and was designed to provide information relative to operating a business or owning property in downtown.

Once information was compiled from the research activities a six-hour strategic planning workshop was held with ten attendees, including five SDA board members, a city councilman, the Graham County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, the Community representative from Freeport McMoRan and the Planning and Community Development Administrative Assistant. All participants received copies of the compiled results from the interviews and surveys. During the workshop, attendees were asked to identify the last two year accomplishments, discuss the key points that they gleamed from the survey results, and identify high level goals and five year objectives.

Some of the goals outlined in the plan include:

  • Finishing the Safford Theater and holding a red carpet grand opening.
  • Adopting and entertainment district and promoting businesses that offer music, outdoor dining, tastings, demonstrations, classes, etc.
  • Continue to work on beautification of the downtown appearance.
  • Improve awareness of downtown from highway 70 and highway 191.

The full report of the strategic plan can be viewed here.

The Safford Downtown Association is a volunteer organization that raises about $10,000 each year in volunteer dues from downtown businesses. These funds help support  community events along with several other downtown promotions such as the association’s Annual Downtown Luncheon and the downtown facade grant program. The City of Safford offers staffing support to the SDA Board.