The Program

We grow Arizona’s small-town economies by working directly with businesses, leaders, and organizations to create unique solutions that result in prosperity within these communities. We offer technology training, in-state tourism development, youth engagement programs, and community assessments that help identify existing assets and challenges that impact the success of the state’s overall economy.


Amplifying Rural Voices

Arizona Rural Development Council

The Arizona Rural Development Council (AZRDC) is the state’s official federally-recognized State Rural Development Council in the National Rural Development Partnership. State Rural Development councils create collaborative partnership with representatives of the federal, state, local, and tribal governments, the private sector, and the nonprofit sector to promote rural development. The AZRDC became an initiative under the Local First Arizona Foundation in 2009 and has since focused on being a medium to leverage resources to further promote equitable opportunities among rural areas around the state. The AZRDC works on various projects seeking to enhance and support education, health care, economic and community development while also showcasing the beauty and history rural Arizona has to offer. 


Convening Rural Stakeholders

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Rural Policy Forum

The Rural Policy Forum connects rural economic development professionals, nonprofits, community leaders, business owners, and other rural stakeholders who are interested in sustaining rural communities.

Our goal will be to hear strategies from national experts as well as learn about success stories from around Arizona that will give our rural leaders the tools, resources and relationships they need to face current challenges.


Supporting Innovation and Job Creation in Rural Communities 

Graham County Micro-Loan Fund

Local First Arizona Foundation is building opportunity for local businesses in Graham County in partnership with Freeport McMoRan and the Graham County Leadership Cohort through the Graham County Micro-Loan Program. This new program will offer loans in smaller amounts to local businesses in the Graham County area to help them stay competitive in a continuously changing economy. 

Localizing Rural Supply Chains 

Copper Corridor Supplier  Source

Large companies that are heavily invested in Arizona's future are recognizing that by leveraging their own procurement, they can grow jobs and the local economy. Utilizing this concept, Local First Arizona Foundation in partnership with Resolution Copper created a new website, the Copper Corridor Supplier Source, to build a pipeline of small business providers in the Copper Corridor. With over 120 categories of goods and services, the site can be utilized by anyone in the state looking to hire a locally owned company in the region, which spans from Superior, through Kearny and Winkelman and over to Globe-Miami. Use of the website keeps dollars in the region to grow jobs and opportunities to build a healthier local economy.            



Connecting Rural Schools & Small Business 

Youth Retention & Development

We work with youth across rural Arizona to show the many opportunities for success their hometowns have to offer, and that entrepreneurialism can be a path to future prosperity within their community. 

Exploring Arizona's Small Towns


WeekendZona aims to redirect the billions of dollars that Arizonans spend vacationing out of state into our unique and diverse small towns. By creating a curated experience to showcase each small town in its best light, we expose Arizonans to hidden gems and create a measurable economic impact in these communities. 

Arizonans annually spend $6 billion vacationing in California. If we can redirect even a small portion of that into Arizona communities, that will create jobs and vitalize local economies across the state. 

WeekendZona won the Governor's Tourism Award for Creative Collaborative Marketing for our partnership with the Verde Valley.


Sharing Resources Between Arizona's Small Towns


Solutions for rural development

A webinar series that addresses a number of topics pertaining to development issues, specifically in the context of rural communities.

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