The Town of Fountain Hills is a master-planned community in Arizona that should be on everyone’s radar. For a small town with a population of 24,000 (and growing), it offers an unmatched way of life and great economic potential to those who’ve made their way here.
Fountain Hills is part of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. An unmistakable small-town vibe is in the air, yet close by are the services and amenities of a big city.
Located where the McDowell Mountains meet the Sonoran Desert, the town is blessed with an abundance of picturesque vistas and a lifestyle in harmony with these natural endowments.
Economic Development Director Amanda Jacobs explains that people of all ages are attracted to Fountain Hills for its “six highly rated golf courses, exceptional road and mountain biking, beautiful weather, trails for hiking, nearby lakes, and a river wilderness area. It’s a lifestyle located ten minutes from a large metropolitan area.”
A focal point in the community is its namesake fountain around which Disneyland designer Charles Wood Jr. laid out the town. The fountain can gush to a remarkable 560 feet, making it the fourth highest in the world (though at the time of its construction in the 1970s it was #1).
Since Fountain Hills is geographically landlocked, growth and development has been intentional and purposive from the beginning, as it had to be. The town has been sensitively developed with a strong focus on sustainability, optimal land use, and a commitment to putting in place the services and amenities for a special quality of life.
However, despite the town being landlocked, Jacobs explains that there is still ample room to grow in Fountain Hills.
“There are several vacant land opportunities, as well as opportunities for expansion within existing buildings. The town is open to working with developers and property owners to drive growth through development agreements and flexible zoning.”
And growth is breeding more growth. For instance, the addition of new apartment and condominium complexes is making it easier to support existing businesses with expansion plans and for companies to attract talent.
Small, but mighty
While being small can be a disadvantage, this is certainly not evident in Fountain Hills. Being small has afforded it a unique pathway to growth—the very reason David Racich, President of Brokers Alliance, believes the town is optimal for his operation.
“Brokers Alliance is a very tightly-knit organization, which really mirrors the type of community Fountain Hills is,” says Racich. “Being such a small community can really help businesses thrive because we love to support local businesses. There is easy access to collaborative team environments all around our town.”
For these reasons, and more, Jacobs notes that Fountain Hills is especially appealing to “young entrepreneurs and start-up companies who want to live, work, and play in a small, affluent town.”
More than half of the town’s population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher and the median household income is $87,080. And as the economy grows, so too do the opportunities for growth and prosperity.
Strengthening the community
To maintain the quality of life that residents of Fountain Hills have come to enjoy, there has been a focus on service provision, and in particular, the delivery of exceptional healthcare for the community.
Fountain Hills Medical Center (FHMC) and Emergency Room is the only physician-operated 24-hour freestanding emergency department in the town. Prior to its arrival, the community was without a full-service emergency room.
Dr. Meka Ezeume, President of FHMC, notes, “Before FHMC was built, it was taking some residents more than 30 minutes to get to an emergency room. When an emergency strikes, the less time it takes to get care, the better the outcome will be.”
The facility offers up to 24-hour medical observation beds/rooms, 24-hour imaging services, lab and medication services, as well as primary and urgent care for adults and children in the area. Just a year after its opening, expansion plans are underway with phase two of the facility expected to be operational early next year.
The expansion will include 15 inpatient beds, catheter and special procedure lab, two operating rooms, subspecialty clinic space, expanded laboratory services, MRI capabilities, nuclear medicine, and stress testing. The facility will also begin accepting ambulances upon completion.
“We are so thankful to be a part of this wonderful community and to offer superior medical care close to home. The facility has had between 9,000 and 10,000 patient encounters since opening,” Dr. Ezeume says.
Healthcare isn’t the only sector experiencing growth in Fountain Hills. One of the strongest economic drivers is the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and the continued success of local start-ups.
A shining example of this in action is PREVCO Subsea Housings which began as an idea conceived in a garage office. This subsea engineering consultancy, which specializes in submersible pressure vessels, instrumentation housings, junction boxes, underwater camera housings, underwater housings, subsea housings, pressure relief valves, and other subsea enclosures and accessories, is now based in the town’s industrial area and continues to grow.
Growth like this is spurring local leaders like Jacobs to consider expansions that could support existing operations like PREVCO, including suppliers and other supply chain solutions, and zoning changes to make way for that growth.
There’s also a commitment to rezoning where necessary to accommodate new growth. The effort to ensure that there’s constantly available land for industrial, commercial and residential developments is always a priority, as is maintaining the balance between growth and sustainability.
Economically, Fountain Hills is a beacon of opportunity, but it has also found a way to balance development with nature, and one of the ways it has achieved this is by becoming the 17th International Dark Sky Community in the world.
Joe Bill, president of the International Dark Sky Discovery Center (IDSDC) shared, “If you like dark skies, Fountain Hills is sometimes referred to as a dark sky oasis in the Valley of the Sun.” This is what has made Fountain Hills an optimal location for the 22,000 square foot IDSDC which is in the detailed design phase and scheduled to open in 2024.
The IDSDC will feature the region’s largest telescope at its Dark Sky Observatory, and will include the Hyperspace Planetarium, Inspiration Theater, and Immersion Zone complete with educational displays and interactive learning experiences to “inspire future scientists,” “opening the window to the observable universe” for all.
The future is bright
With nothing but optimism for the future, the Town of Fountain Hills continues to plan and strategize to ensure it’s grasping the opportunities that present themselves, and that growth and development take place in harmony with nature and the commitment to sustainability.
“The town’s short-term goals include developing a Community and Economic Development Strategy this fall and completing a community branding project by December 2022,” says Jacobs, which will make for a busy year ahead.
Looking ahead, the goal will be to implement its strategic plan, which, Jacobs noted, “focuses on targeted collaborative economic development, promoting the long-term financial sustainability of the town infrastructure, environmental and social resources, continuing to improve public health, and the wellbeing and safety of our town.”
Jacobs, community leaders, and stakeholders believe the important question to ask is, “What do we want to be when we grow up? What should we be targeting, and is the community ready?” It’s their path to ensuring that growth remains strategic and preserves the quality of life that Fountain Hills is so rich in.