Economic Expansion Doesn't Have To Shrink Water Supplies


by Ray Schum
Payson Town Council Member

At the annual meeting of the Payson Economic Development Corporation, I was re-elected as president. At that meeting, I defined the role of economic development in our town and proposed my plans to enhance this role. Subsequent to that meeting, an article appeared in The Payson Roundup announcing my call for a proactive approach to growth. I now wish to elaborate on the following points.

One of the goals established by the PEDC is to increase the number of small, high-paying, manufacturing-type companies by 10 percent over the next five years. By focusing on this type of industry, we will create higher-paying professional jobs, while maintaining that ecological balance so necessary to our geographic area.

According to a 1995 research study by Blane Canada Ltd, for every manufacturing job that is established, two other jobs will be created in the community. I believe that recruiting new, high-paying businesses to our town is one of the keys to Payson's future.

Another goal, expressed by many, is to achieve "affordable" housing in Payson. I believe that one of the steps leading toward this goal is to create new jobs that pay a livable wage. We already have a number of small, water-efficient, manufacturing businesses in operation -- Pulau Aero-Space electronic manufacturing firm being one of the more recent additions.

We should continue to solicit established manufacturing-type businesses to expand their operations to our town, to include attracting research and development operations as well as recruiting software and telemarketing companies.

The impact of 100 new manufacturing jobs would be the creation of twice as many additional jobs in our community, thereby resulting in a $5 million yearly increase to our local economy. The creation of these jobs will contribute toward the equation that achieves the desired goal of "affordable" housing.

Contrary to the criticism of some, it was never my intent, nor that of the PEDC, to establish Payson as a "manufacturing mecca". We would not wish to do that for many reasons.

We do wish to pursue this approach as one of many activities to enhance our local economy. It is my belief that higher-paying manufacturing businesses are out there today; they exist in the Valley and elsewhere and could locate to our area. We are continuing our discussions with Phoenix Logistics to make this very move. For every acceptable manufacturing-type business we attract, that is one more than we had before, and for each job that they bring, it is that many more than we had before.

The idea of "conflict of interest" has arisen regarding my responsibilities as councilman while simultaneously holding the office of president of the PEDC. There are no legal (reasons) that preclude me from holding both positions. The potential for a moral or ethical conflict may exist. However, I view my activities in town affairs as part of my personal integrity. I will make no decision nor take any action that is not in the best interests of the town and its citizens.

I view my involvement with the PEDC as complementary to my primary role as town councilman. Specifically, my conservative position on the use of water and what appears to be a contradictory stance regarding the PEDC's goal of bringing water users to our area has been mentioned by some.

There is no question that with the addition of every new water connection, the use of water will increase. We intend, however, to selectively recruit only low-water using businesses that possess the potential to create new jobs for local residents. The benefits we accrue will far out-weigh the minimal additional use of water.

Although I continue to support our conservation plans and policies as they relate to water management, I believe we must remain open to reasonable growth and development, as driven by the market, in order to maintain and stimulate our overall economy and all segments associated with it.

Obviously, there are no ready-made, off-the-shelf, magic solutions (that address) the challenging economic issues that are before us. We must strive to develop new solutions to old problems without creating new problems.

I believe that the aggressive involvement of the PEDC, the chamber of commerce, civic groups, as well as town government, and all citizens, working together, will achieve realistic development and direct growth to come, and the economy associated with it, in the direction we want it to go.

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