COOLIDGE — Coolidge Days comes about the first weekend in October every year — giving residents a chance to come together and celebrate their hometown.
Witnessing people gathering at San Carlos Park is possibly Mayor Jon Thompson’s favorite part of the three-day celebration.
But Coolidge is growing, and forward motion is what is primarily on the mayor’s mind these days.
Since the start of 2019, Coolidge witnessed an uptick in open storefronts, which includes doctors’ offices, food locations and even a video gaming center. In addition, the city saw the number of issued home permits rise.
Keeping that progress going is what Thompson hopes to do.
“As long as we’re still going we need to keep moving forward,” he said.
In 2018, Nikola Motor Company announced plans to open a 1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Coolidge, located at the Inland Port Arizona to the south of the townsite. The project is estimated to bring about 2,000 jobs to the region.
This year, the city also witnessed a number of new businesses announce their debut, such as Dairy Queen, Domino's and even local businesses like Air Conditioning by Gary.
In addition, homebuilders have also returned to Coolidge with Wade Jurney and Brown Homes currently developing lots in the McClellan Meadows subdivision. Wade Jurney is also constructing homes within the Picacho Crossings subdivision.
“We’re getting close to 200 housing (permits),” Thompson said. “Last year, or the year before (2017), we didn’t really have any permits for new housing.”
The permits include the development of infill housing in a number of older neighborhoods around Coolidge, he noted
“Coolidge has stepped it up, and things are happening here,” he said. “We’re starting to see a lot of new faces in town — a lot of these subdivisions are seeing new homes — and we’re starting to see new residents coming in.”
Two apartment complexes have also been announced as part of the new developments, including a 398-unit site to be developed on North Sonora Loop.
For Thompson, Coolidge has come a long way over the past five years. The changes include road improvements and paving projects, cleanup efforts and the demolition of deteriorating abandoned structures.
“I think we’ve made pretty good strides,” he said. “You drive down our streets now (and) our streets are in a lot better (shape). Not all of them of course, but we have a program set out (and) we’re going to be working on the streets continuously.”
More jobs may also be making their way to Coolidge, Thompson said, with a company that specializes in stone and granite work also planning to open a facility on Coolidge Avenue.
And when it comes to working with businesses, the city has also made an effort to streamline processes such as permits and inspections as much as possible by contracting with design and consulting firm Stantec.
But even with major economic projects like the Nikola manufacturing plant choosing to locate in Coolidge, for Thompson, there is always more work to be done.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, but there’s still a lot of things to do,” he said. “We still have a lot of cleanup to do, (and) we still need to be keep moving forward. I don’t think you can let up.”