Photo by Max Efrein.
Originally Published: July 24, 2016 6:01 a.m.
Economic development departments and municipal officials in the quad-city area are all pushing for industry sector growth.
A unifying organization assisting this effort is the Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership (GPREP). The non-profit organization works with public and private entities within the Quad Cities to come up with a marketing plan that will attract new quality businesses and foster capital investments in the area.
“They [GPREP] sell the region and we sell the community,” said Jeff Burt, director of Economic Initiatives for the City of Prescott. “Before a local community can be selected, a region has got to be selected.”
The Quad Cities as a whole is a small enough area that residents in any of the municipalities could easily enough commute from one to the other for the sake of a quality job. Therefore, spending money to directly compete with each other in this realm is a waste, said Ruth Mayday, Development Services director for the Town of Chino Valley.
“A new manufacturing plant or some sort of production facility in any of these areas benefits everybody,” Mayday said.
As outlined in its revised action plan, GPREP is focusing its efforts on attracting companies that primarily land within the following sectors of industry: aerospace/defense, metal fabrication/precision metal work, medical devices/electromedical equipment, packaging materials/support services and firearms/ammunition.
“We get inquiries from businesses, but sometimes they’re a mismatch for the area based on size and water consumption,” said Richard Heath, GPREP’s director.
“You can’t build in Arizona without thinking about water conservation,” Mayday said.
Therefore, high water users are automatically out of the question. This excludes any sort of company involved in food processing, semi-conductor manufacturing or chemical processing, to name a few.
“We recently had a project that was looking around the state and the water requirement for it was like 200-acre feet of water per year,” Burt said. “That’s not one of them that we go after. We’re looking at more like five-acre-feet-a-year companies.”
Considering the region’s population and available resources, Burt, Mayday and Heath all report that they’re going after businesses that employ anywhere between 25 and 100 employees.
“We’re not going elephant hunting,” Burt said.
A company that falls neatly into this schematic and is currently in the construction phase within Centerpointe West in Prescott is Vinyl Visions.
The California vinyl trim company specializes in the window and door industry for residential and commercial markets. The company broke ground on its 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Prescott in March and is expected to be operational before the year is out.
The company is relocating some key employees from California and looking to hire approximately 20-25 new employees locally.
Unlike some, the owners of Vinyl Visions didn’t require much convincing from GPREP or the City of Prescott before deciding to expand into this market, Burt said. Rather, they did their own research and found that Prescott worked well for their expansion plans.
“Our job was simply to convince them that we had a site for them, that we had the infrastructure to support what they were meaning to have, and make sure they knew that they were certainly wanted,” Burt said.
Some may ask why the area needs further economic development. Heath and Burt’s responses are clear.
“You can’t take a breath and rest on your laurels, because as soon as you become a little complacent is when you lose momentum,” Heath said. “You never know when an existing company is on its way out.”
“A big part of why we do this is to help diversify the economy here and make it a little more robust,” Burt said. “That way, when the economy suffers, you’re not like a lot of places in the country and solely dependent on one industry or one industry segment. It’s about minimizing risk.”
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