The 2019 election brought new energy to many city and town councils around the state and on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, many of these newly elected officials converged at the Arizona Association for Economic Development Symposium to share their visions for their communities.
To kick off the event, a panel of Economic Development professionals including Wendy Bridges, City of Prescott; Ben Hooper, Town of Prescott Valley; Mike Parades, Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation; and Richard Fernandez, Yavapai College joined forces in outlining an overview of the economic development cycle, its value and new ways to look at some of its challenges. Fernandez outlined a few statistics around the Rural AZ workforce which included:
Over 25% of residents in Gila, Mohave, and Yavapai Counties live at/near the poverty line.
Disconnected Youth in Gila and Mohave County (defined as ages 16-24 without jobs, not enrolled in school, and not in the military) comprise about 23% of each region’s youth population.
Up to 35% of Yavapai County residents commute over 50 miles EVERY DAY for work
Fernandez outlined The 3-2 Model for Workforce Development - a solution that was implemented between Yavapai College and a local Prescott employer where a curriculum was developed that supplemented the local workforce and created new job opportunities for those disconnected or working multiple jobs in Prescott or the surrounding area. The program provided 3 days of a dedicated CTE program developed at the school, and 2 days of a paid internship with the employer each week with the end result being full-time employment of a newly trained workforce. Fernandez noted that with the right relationships and a willingness to collaborate between local employers and your community colleges, this type of program can be duplicated almost anywhere.
If you don’t have a relationship with higher education stakeholders in your community, you need to - Richard Fernandez, Yavapai College
Rural Arizona Mayors with Vision
Mayor Al Gameros | City of Globe
The City of Globe has come a long way quickly under the leadership of Mayor Gameros and his vision is still becoming clear. He recognized the addition of Linda Oddenetto, the City of Globe Economic Development Director, as one of the key decisions the City made that put them on a positive trajectory towards economic growth and community prosperity. Additionally, Gameros credited statewide partnerships, creative funding, branding and community engagement with the progress that is being made in the City. Over the course of the coming year, they are looking forward to the finalization of a strategic plan, the rollout of their new brand, a partnership with Vitalyst towards a Healthy Community and a more welcoming entrance to the city for which they are so proud. #Arizona2theCore #Go2Globe
Mayor Jen Miles | City of Kingman
Mayor Jen Miles took the helm in 2019, following a successful term as Vice Mayor in years prior. Although unable to attend Tuesday’s event, the Vision for Kingman seems clear as outlined by current Vice Mayor, Travis Lingenfelter. With a focus on three strategic sectors - Trade, Population, and Visitors - Kingman is making moves towards a more industry-friendly, resident-friendly and visitor-friendly community. Lingenfelter highlighted the overwhelming economic potential of Kingman Airport’s 4000 acres of land (Sky Harbor Airport sits on 3400 acres, as a reference point), along with future development of transportation infrastructure. He also pointed out the importance of tourism and some of the hard work being done by the Kingman Main Street organization and the small business community to develop Kingman’s growing downtown entertainment district.
Mayor Tom Morrissey | Town of Payson
After an impromptu Birthday Song serenade initiated by Payson Economic Director, Bobby Davis, Mayor Morrissey took to the podium to discuss his vision for the Town of Payson. Acknowledging that the Town has a variety of challenges for Economic Development, including a broadband issue that almost shut down the entire town almost a half a dozen times in the past year, Morrissey points to the importance of collaboration in overcoming their obstacles. According to Morrissey, community engagement is the key to a vibrant town and one of the things (along with Payson’s 100 year water supply) of which he is most proud.
Mayor Daryl Croft | Town of Chino Valley
Although not new to his role, Chino Valley’s Mayor attended to discuss other new positions being created at the Town of Chino Valley. With excitement surrounding the addition of their first Economic Development Coordinator, Chino Valley recognizes that the growth of their surrounding cities (Prescott and Prescott Valley) will bring rapid growth to Chino Valley as well, and they want to be prepared. Mayor Croft pointed out that Chino Valley is comprised of 64 miles within their jurisdiction and that a primary focus needs to be on road improvement. The Town of Chino Valley is holding a special election in late May in hopes of obtaining enough votes to pass a property tax that would help with road improvements.
Mayor Kell Palguta | Town of Prescott Valley
Rounding out the day, the event host and Town of Prescott Valley’s newly appointed Mayor, Kell Palguta took the floor to talk about his Vision for Prescott Valley. Historically, there had been a competitive spirit between the Quad-Cities in the heart of Yavapai County, but Mayor Palguta wants to see that shift. From competition to cooperation, Palguta sees a greater value in highlighting how each town compliments each other than competing as they have in the past. “What’s good for Prescott Valley, is good for Prescott and Chino and vice versa,” he stated. Additionally, the Town is working on empowering citizens and the private sector to create events that bring the community together. They are also working on promoting youth sports, concerts and tradeshows at one of the Town’s greatest assets, the Findlay Toyota Center. Finally, through community consultants, Prescott Valley will focus on the development of the Northern Arizona Technology Alliance and more economic energy centered around aerospace and another regional asset, the Prescott Airport.
For information on how the Local First Arizona Rural Development Council can help your community achieve your Vision, email Director of Rural Programs, Liza Noland at email@example.com.