The City of Phoenix has taken a significant stride in the investment of its west side community. In hopes of partnering with community members to revitalize the area, along with the redevelopment of Metro Center and nearby health care facilities, the City of Phoenix (City) purchased the former Kmart building located at the northwest corner of I-17 and Northern Avenue. Plans are underway for renovations of the site to transform it into a much needed, state-of-the-art workforce training and education facility, appropriately named the Innovation 27 Workforce Training and Education Collaborative.
The City, along with education partners: Arizona State University (ASU), Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), and Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), intend to provide advanced education opportunities and workforce development to support this area of Phoenix in both its workforce and businesses. The former Kmart building has been vacant for the past five years and is one of the last remaining large infill sites located along a major freeway in Phoenix that is available for redevelopment.
In 2022, the Phoenix City Council approved the 27th Avenue Corridor Community Safety and Crime Prevention Plan, which directly focuses on the community. Innovation 27 is an essential part of the solution to help combat those safety and economic issues. Residents currently experience barriers to education opportunities, food deserts, and access to transportation to other training facilities in the valley. Training opportunities anticipated for this site are expected to prepare individuals for careers in the semiconductor, public safety, bioscience, information technology, food innovation, and healthcare fields.
“With the Innovation 27 Workforce Training and Education Collaborative, we are taking a major step forward in providing our community with the resources and opportunities needed to develop a strong workforce here in Phoenix. This state-of-the-art facility will be a hub for training and education that will empower our residents to become leaders in critical fields and help drive economic growth in our city,” said Mayor Kate Gallego.
“We are working hard to bring opportunity to the residents of west Phoenix,” said Councilwoman Betty Guardado. “Thanks to the vision and determination of our local neighborhood leaders, Innovation 27 will become an education and workforce catalyst for the entire community.”
“We appreciate the leadership of the city of Phoenix in helping to advance a location and facility that provides easy access for the public and we believe that Innovation 27 represents a welcome opportunity in the West Valley for ASU to partner with others to advance learning opportunities for residents working to upskill and reskill for career advancement,” said Todd Sandrin, Vice Provost of ASU West. “Our university charter calls upon us not only to be accessible and inclusive but also to take responsibility for the communities we serve and we look forward to contributing to the success of this unique facility, providing ASU’s state-of-the-art programs that empower learners to create new futures for themselves, their families, and the community.”
“The Maricopa Community Colleges are excited to partner with the City of Phoenix utilizing this location to help educate additional workforce and develop further opportunities for our students. We thank the Mayor, Councilwoman Guardado, and the rest of the Council for their entrepreneurial leadership on this property,” said Chancellor Steven Gonzales.
“With the tremendous growth being realized across multiple industries in Arizona, West-MEC values the opportunity to support the collaboration that is Innovation 27. Innovation 27 illustrates the powerful linkages that exist between our region’s education and training providers and how they can be leveraged in support of workforce development at the community level,” said CJ Williams, Director of Business Development and Government Affairs.
Innovation 27 provides a space for advanced education and job upskilling. It will focus on cultivating sustainable occupations that can withstand market volatility and foster entrepreneurship, creativity, and growth opportunities. Programs and classes in the buildings are estimated to begin in the fall of 2024.