County Moves Forward

Changes in economic development

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The Industrial Development Authority of Gila County has a checkered past. Some county officials have expressed serious dissatisfaction with the lack of action in shoring up the area’s economy and the lopsided budget, with almost all of the money going to the south.

A presentation at the March 25 work session of the Gila County Board of Supervisors seems to indicate a change is on the way.

Cliff Potts, president of the IDA and a longtime Northern Gila County resident, community activist and businessman, made the presentation. Backing him up were other IDA members James “Mac” Feezor of Payson; Fred Barcon, vice president, Miami; Stanley Gibson, secretary-treasurer, Globe; and William Byrne, Globe.

“We are well formed and all are committed to economic development in Gila County,” Potts told the supervisors.

In its efforts to move forward, he said the IDA has retained bond counsel Pat Ray, a partner with Kutak Rock, so it can quickly and efficiently raise money through bonds to back projects to lure new businesses to Gila County.

Potts said the IDA board has been very busy pursuing grants, USDA Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, actively seeking bonding conduit opportunities to enhance its income and developing a tourism enhancement strategy.

The tourism websites should generate advertising revenue for the IDA as well, he said.

“We have recently approved a loan that will allow SEABUS to grow their facility in Globe with pediatric behavioral health, creating 10 new jobs for now and likely more in the future.”

Potts said the IDA board is pursuing its mission:

“The Industrial Development Authority of Gila County is committed to expanding economic development and business enterprise for Gila County, Arizona. The primary mission of the IDA is to secure and apply resources that promote the retention, expansion and attraction of business and commercial enterprises in Gila County and to expand employment opportunities.

“The IDA is committed to supporting projects that impact the social, cultural, environmental and physical needs of Gila County and therefore improving the quality of life for its citizens.”

He said in the process of pursuing its mission the IDA has identified several gaps that exist among the entities seeking economic development.

“We appreciate Gila County’s commitment to economic development. In addition to the county having a stake in economic development, we have the chambers of commerce, both Southern and Northern Gila County Economic Development Corporations, the cities and towns, the community college, the workforce investment board, the businesses themselves, as well as several trade and business organizations. All operating mostly independently.

“One of the major gaps that exists is for the mentioned stakeholders to have a channel to the county.

“Even more needed is a conduit to outside resources, in particular the state of Arizona and the federal government and even private funding entities,” Potts told the supervisors.

As an example of the gaps, he said the IDA’s tourism promotion consultant, Tedd Quinn of Monster Productions, pointed out that on the Arizona Department of Tourism website — www.ArizonaGuide.com — if you look for eating places in Globe the only restaurant that is listed is Little Ceasar’s in Show Low.

Potts said an opportunity exists now to leverage the grant the county made to Payson for a dynamic economic development website to make that countywide.

“Our request to you today is to ask Gila County government to invest in the manpower to collaborate, coordinate, support and promote the various parties promoting economic growth in the county.

“We are asking for you to budget and hire an economic development professional,” Potts said.

He added the IDA board could serve in an advisory position to the supervisors to interface with the developer it is suggesting the county hire.

“We are suggesting that this person would be a rainmaker. One that will negotiate deals, leverage resources, seeks opportunities, forge relationships, and get Gila County at the center of Arizona’s map.

“In short a talented person with a track record of success.

“As a functioning board, we have a staff person in place and can be effective in assisting an economic director.”

Effective economic development in the county to create meaningful increase to the tax base has to be a collaborative effort, Potts said. Even with the hiring of the right person, economic development’s effectiveness comes from the communities.

Potts said to the IDA the basic and obvious place to start is to improve tourism. To that point, it is developing a website to be named www.discovergila.com.

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