Gila County supervisors, in a 2-1 vote, awarded Payson $43,400 in economic development funds this week over the objections of board chairman Mike Pastor, who represents the southern area of the county.
District 1 Supervisor Tommie Martin, who represents the Payson area, pushed the request, noting that most of the county’s economic development in the past several years has gone to South County projects. The grants included:
• Sponsorship of a Sept. 6-8 soccer tournament — $2,500
• Sponsorship of the 2013 Fiddlers’ Festival — $2,500
• Sponsorship of the 2014 Mountain High Games — $5,000
• Northern Gila County regional Web site software — $8,400
• Northern Gila County economic development publicity program — $10,000
• Northern Gila County regional economic development plan — $15,000
Pastor said he had no objection to the sponsorships, but wanted to wait on the economic development plans until the county decided whether to create a countywide plan. He said the still-operating Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation in Globe wants to create the plan with the help of the Central Arizona Association of Governments.
“When there was a Northern Gila County Economic Development Corporation, we weren’t seeing any bang for our buck ... Payson pulled out of that several years ago,” Pastor said.
Martin said the sale of the Forest Service land for a satellite four-year university has created an interest among businesses wanting to relocate to the Payson area. She said the information needed to give them a complete picture of the potential is scattered all over — the town has some of the information; the chamber has more; and several old Arizona Public Service-funded studies don’t reflect the current status.
“There is a need to fill the gaps, so the town can help interested businesses where they can fit, what (property) is available and more,” Martin said.
She said she thought a countywide economic development plan was a good idea, but said Payson couldn’t wait two years for the assistance.
“This will answer an immediate need. It was not planned on. We’ve given money to Bullion Plaza and the Old Dominion Mine Park. We’ve not done that up here and they have not asked for help before,” Martin said in response to Pastor’s objections.
District 3 Supervisor John Marcanti said he also thought a countywide economic development plan is a good idea.
“But immediate funding is needed by Payson,” he added and made the motion for approval. Martin seconded and the two voted to for the grants. Pastor voted against the action.
Economic development details
The economic development program proposed by Payson Mayor Kenny Evans on behalf of the town has three parts:
• The town will create and maintain a regional Web site to highlight all communities in Northern Gila County. The Web site will cover economic development, tourism, attractions, governments, emergency responders (a link to all police, sheriff, fire, emergency management, the U.S. Forest Service, etc.), and contacts (a link to utilities, the hospital, newspaper, etc.).
• The town in partnership with the Roundup will provide stories and photographs for other media outlets that promote travel and recreation.
• The grant will help fund a comprehensive Northern Gila County Regional Economic Development Plan that will show the strengths, weaknesses, needs, opportunities, etc., of the area.