It wasn’t that long ago that Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix was in dire need of some major TLC. “It was morale busting,” says Clint Hickman, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Hickman’s Family Farms. With the state’s Centennial just around the corner (February 14 in case you haven’t yet marked your calendar), Hickman wanted to do something — after all, Wesley Bolin Plaza sits right in front of the Arizona Capitol building… that, and it’s really the centerpiece of the downtown area, so how could it not be in tip-top shape for AZs big 100? Alas, budget cuts meant little could be done to revitalize the area.
Deciding to taking matters into his own hands, Hickman invited Arizona Senator Steve Pierce to the Hickman family farms and that’s when the two started talking about the plaza. “It just seemed like no one wanted to get anything done,” says Hickman. “So I said, ‘do you mind if I help.’”
Hickman spearheaded an effort to bring the plaza back to life by asking local businesses to donate resources like plants, gravel, seed, time and manpower to overhaul the space. The pièce de résistance will be planted after the holidays, when the Centennial Saguaro goes in.
I briefly spoke to Hickman about this tremendous undertaking and below are his thoughts on Arizona, the Centennial and why you should care.
Why was this effort so important to you?
We are asking people to come to our state for business, to put down roots here, and unfortunately for us, the state didn’t have a lot of money to spend on the Centennial. It’s hard to pay for a party when you have to borrow money to do it. At least now, we’re bringing some visibility to the area… that’s where the TV cameras are going to be on the Centennial. That’s why I wanted it to look nice. Maybe if a business in California saw that’s it’s pretty nice, maybe they’d think about bringing their business here.
So what’s been the most satisfying part about your good deed?
That everybody I’ve asked to help has said yes. They all understand we are in a budget crisis…. Also, that it’s easily maintained. We re-did the sprinkler systems. We retrained the work crews down there, so they have some possession of the project. Wesley Bolin Plaza is going to look good years from now with minimal work.
We’re not hearing much about the Centennial. Why should folks care about our state’s birthday?
The state probably does a poor job calling attention to our history and the wonderful things that have transpired here. Being a native — a third generation native — I’ve been given a wonderful education at Glendale Community College and at the University of Arizona… it gives me a point of pride and I want the next generation to feel that pride about what Arizona has given them too.
Why do you love Arizona?
To me, for my family, it’s been a wonderful place to grow up. Arizona gives us opportunities day after day. I travel the state a lot and I think it’s the prettiest state in the nation. A lot of people don’t know about it.