Payson, Region Share In $48,000 State Grant

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Payson is in a partnership to receive a $48,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Commerce.

The money, the Regional Planning Grant, was awarded during the recent Governor's Rural Development Conference in Lake Havasu City.

The communities of Eagar, Holbrook, Pinetop-Lakeside, St. Johns, Show Low, Springerville and Taylor, as well as Payson, have been designated as Arizona's Plateau Region.

Also participating in the region are Snowflake, Apache County, Gila County, Navajo County, Economic Development of Apache County Corporation, Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation and the White Mountain Regional Development Corporation.

The PREDC joined with its counterparts in the region to develop the grant proposal. The group wrote the grant for an inventory assessment, including asset and resource mapping of such things as telecommunications and other infrastructure, energy sources, site development properties, work force opportunities and quality of life amenities.

Additionally, the grant will help develop an Industrial Development Profile that describes industrial initiation, business expansion and retention efforts and steps to enhance the regional economy.

"Since the economic development directors in the region had already established a positive working relationship prior to the state's creating the Plateau Region we were way ahead of many of the regions who are still just beginning to work with their regional partners," PREDC director Scott Flake said.

Flake said the group expects to have the inventory completed by mid-2005. He said because the project primarily involves research and generating data, it is not expected to require public input.

According to information from the ADC, the region was developed through a Statewide Economic Study. The study identified the Plateau Region as having similar economic characteristics in terms of income and employment mix involving government, tourism and the retirement industries with no clear economic hub, is challenged in sub-regional coordination between tourism-dependent communities by distances. The study also identified opportunities to build the regional economy through retirement or second home sales, tourism and the development of industries based on forestry products.

"Arizona's economy is not ‘one size fits all,'" said Gilbert Jimenez, director of ADC. "In identifying the regions it became apparent that (the commerce department) should assist communities in developing strategic plans that fit the unique characteristics of their areas."

Flake said the grant the Plateau Region presented had the highest scores of any application submitted.

ADC also presented the PREDC with an Excellence in Rural Development award for Innovative Economic Development Practices for the "Arizona Rim Country" branding project. Mayor Barbara Brewer, Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Director Tina Bruess, former chamber director Bob Ware and PREDC board member Dick Wolfe joined with Flake to receive the award.

The award recognizes outstanding economic development strategies, community projects, and partnerships involving municipal and county governments, community organizations, associations, non-profits, service clubs and companies.

The branding project was a collaboration between the PREDC, the chamber of commerce, the historical society, Small Business Development Center, college and community leaders developing a common identity, community personality and a consistent image to represent the Rim country, according to information from the ADC.

The Main Street awards were also presented at the Governor's Rural Development Conference. Payson winners were Rim Country Printery for best facade renovation under $25,000, Rim Country Classic Auto Club for best special event, and Body Elegance Day Spa for rehabilitation of significance.

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