While every job in Arizona Rim Country is exceedingly important, the backbone of our economy is tourism.
So many of the area's businesses depend on travelers who buy gifts or gasoline; the couple who spend a few nights away from the children at a rustic lodge; or the large group that comes to town for a meeting or reunion.
The list of potential transactions is endless. In all cases, though, the employees of our businesses know immediately if sales are up or down by the number of hours he or she works each week.
The town of Payson and Gila County gauge local business health by the tax revenues generated.
An economic overview meeting was held July 3 at Majestic Mountain Inn.
The focus was to ascertain ways to improve the economy in the Payson and the unincorporated communities of Star Valley, Christopher Creek, Strawberry, and Pine.
Because the health of northern Gila County's economy is dependent on all businesses having a reasonable flow of traffic, a unified effort to re-energize our area's business base to pre-Sept. 11 level is vital. The Rodeo-Chediski fire was only the latest economic destabilizer to befall this area.
The meeting attended by Ron Christensen, Dick Wolfe, Dick Reese, Sharesse Von Straus, Rex Hinshaw, Jim Spencer, Judy Miller, Scott Flake, Glenn Smith, Blaine Kimball, Cliff Potts, Doug Brackin and myself ended with a list of immediate recommendations.
Chief among those suggestions, perhaps, was that everyone in the community work together to make potential visitors aware that Payson and its surrounding communities survived the huge Rim fire without a scratch; that we provided compassionate hospitality to about 1,800 evacuees; and that Arizona Rim Country is a beautifully cool place to visit for a day or a week.
The consensus was that a bona fide marketing campaign must be undertaken, and a substantial investment must be made to tell residents of metropolitan Phoenix that they should come up to the Heart of Arizona.
Payson and its nearby communities must state a consistent message to television and radio stations that it is "business as usual" in all of Arizona Rim Country and that we are "open for fun" every day of the week.
Additional meetings will be held over the next few weeks. All areas of local, county, state and federal government will be energetically encouraged to support the goal of getting the Arizona Rim Country economy back on track.