Higher Education Initiative

In 2012, the City of Mesa, Arizona announced the successful recruitment of three private, non-profit, liberal arts colleges and universities – a direct result of three years of inspired vision and strategic business attraction efforts.

Mesa’s strategy was to attract institutions that required physical space – a “bricks and mortar” play. The City required organizations that prioritized classroom learning – not through a virtual environment. Classes began in 2013 with more than 180 students enrolled “in the classroom and on campus” in Mesa.

One year later, Benedictine University (BenU), Upper Iowa University, and Wilkes University opened physical campuses in Mesa and began offering full-time undergraduate and graduate degree programs at their Mesa campuses.

Mesa’s Office of Economic Development is working in conjunction with the new and established institutions in an effort to brand Mesa as the premier destination for higher education in the Southwest. Mesa Educates U features scholarship opportunities coordinated with the schools to grow student enrollment. Participating in the initiative is Benedictine University, Upper Iowa University, and Wilkes University. 


Considered one of the most successful attraction strategies the City of Mesa has ever implemented, the results have garnered national media attention, earned praise from academicians, industry leaders, developers, and government officials, and has been touted as a model for innovation in higher education and public-private partnerships.

Learn More About Mesa’s Newest Higher Education Partners

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