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Oct032009

Goodyear, Arizona, All-America City

By Chris Weaver

Since 1949, the NCL has been bestowing awards on communities that exhibit merit, growth, and pride by maximizing their unique creative resources to accomplish community goals and objectives. In 2008, Goodyear earned the distinction of the only Arizona city to receive the award, and was subsequently decorated as one of ten 2008 "All-America" cities in the country. Founded in 1917 by Paul Litchfield of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the city, with an estimated population of 47,300, is the fourth fastest growing suburban city (under 100,000 population) in the United States. Over 4,000 U.S. cities have competed in the All-America City competition in the past 59 years, and the NCL has honored 500 U.S. cities whose winning communities share one commonality — each city’s citizens, businesses and government work together to reach specific and significant achievements. With over 30,000 incorporated cities in the United States, less than two percent of the country’s incorporated cities have earned the NCL’s All-America City accolade. The oldest and most prestigious national community recognition award is not as much as an affirmation as it is a reminder of community values and aspirations.

Who is the National Civic League?

Founded in 1894 by Theodore Roosevelt and government reformers, NCL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that accomplishes its mission through training, technical assistance, publishing, facilitating community-wide strategic planning, and awards programs. Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, the National Civic League strengthens democracy by increasing the capacity of the nation’s people to fully participate in and build healthy and prosperous communities across America. The league is the nation’s best at the science of local government, the art of public engagement, and the celebration of the progress that can be achieved when people work together. — Source: www.ncl.org

"The" Criteria

An All-America City must be able to demonstrate successful resolution of community issues through collaborative efforts. The 2008 award-winners met the NCL’s criteria that included active citizen involvement; effective and efficient government performance; maximized local philanthropic and volunteer resources; a strong capacity for cooperation and consensus building; community vision and pride; inter-group relations; community information sharing; and intercommunity cooperation. "The All-America cities symbolize the spirit of grassroots democracy and community problem solving," said Gloria Rubio-Cortés, president and CEO of the Denver-based nonprofit organization that awards communities for outstanding civic accomplishments. "Their award-winning efforts addressed some of the most difficult challenges facing communities today."

A Comprehensive Application Process

In an 11-page application, supported by 6,500 quantitative descriptive words, competing cities profile their unique eminent attributes. The comprehensive criteria addresses community vision, community-wide decision making processes, how those decisions impact community improvement, how a community works together and celebrates its diversity, and the role the city plays in shared challenges with neighboring communities. Further, each award-winning city nominated for the distinctive 2008 award detailed its community’s background and challenges, and identified collaborative community-driven projects. A prerequisite of potential city finalists required the authentication of a youth project that documented the ways the lives of children and youth have been tangibly improved. After an extensive application/screening process, each finalist community sends a delegation of civic activists to present three examples of collaborative community problem solving. If an applicant (city) becomes one of 30 finalists, they are further rated on their verbal presentation to a jury of civic experts at the NCL’s "All-America City" national final competition.

The 2008 National Final Competition

The 2008 winners addressed pressing and topical issues including healthcare for the uninsured, housing for seniors, immigration, education, and economic development. Goodyear’s delegation presented three community social and economic issues that impact the city and illustrated how the community engaged inclusive and successful innovative solutions to meet its challenges:

Goodyear accelerated the schedule of widening Interstate 10 to respond to the need of providing a safe roadway for travelers. The 9-mile stretch of I-10 is the most dangerous in the entire U.S., with a fatality rate of seven times the national average for I-10 coast-to-coast, and three times higher than in the Phoenix metro area. The tri-city cooperative effort of Goodyear, Avondale and Litchfield Park marks the first time in history that communities have paid to accelerate federal highway road construction to provide safety, less congestion and quicker commutes.

Successful recruitment of three diversified universities to establish campuses in the city of Goodyear including Franklin Pierce University (FPU), the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW), and the University of St. Francis (USF). In late 2008 FPU will offer business classes geared toward adult undergraduate and graduate students with plans to expand the curriculum to include medical programs in the near future. UIW will offer core classes for business degree undergraduates with expansion plans of implementing liberal arts degree programs. The USF will expand its health-services curriculum to the Goodyear community potentially partnering with the West Valley Hospital.

The development and implementation of safe management plans to resolve liability and safety issues with Goodyear’s world-class skate park, which included the banning of BMX bikes, the required use of helmets, and the installation of monitors.

Goodyear’s Future

Goodyear exemplifies the true American spirit at work. The citizens are actively committed to ensuring that their community is a safe and nurturing place to live. The city demonstrates community-wide civic accomplishments, cross-sector cooperation and participation, and creative approaches to issues. "These communities really give us hope," said NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortés, "because they show others what can happen when people roll up their sleeves and work together." "Winning the All-America City Award is like taking home a Nobel Prize or an Oscar," said Mayor James Cavanaugh. "We are honored to have received this award." And, as citizens, we are honored. Congratulations, Goodyear!

 

 

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