Proposed prison could diversify town's economy
A private prison company wants to build a 2,000-bed, minimum-security prison for men in Prescott Valley.
Gary Marks, Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation director, said this prison would be the lowest rated corrections prison, and would bring 400-500 jobs starting at $15 an hour.
The town is looking at an annual payroll of $9-10 million, he said, plus the prison will spend about $1 million locally annually, plus contracting for medical and food services.
Marks said, "The $9-$10 million from the prison payroll will turn over six times as it goes through the community, so it will have a $60-$70 million impact before leaving the area."
For every 100 jobs created by the prison, Marks said, traditionally there are 30 related jobs created in the community. "So, if the prison creates 500 jobs another 150 jobs will be created in the community to support it," he said.
Management & Training Corporation of Centerville, Utah, which already has two prisons in Arizona, is trying to respond to a Request for Proposals from the State of Arizona.
The firm proposes to build a self-contained prison on 100 acres in the proposed industrial park east of Fain Road near the old Fain Road. The prison, Marks said, would be the cornerstone of the proposed 600-900-acre industrial park.
Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said the town hasn't put any figures together on the cost of providing sewer and water to the prison site. However, if the council directs staff to put some together they can be ready for the Oct. 18 meeting he said. The council directed him to develop these figures.
Mike Murphy, MTC vice president for corrections marketing, said MTC must submit its proposal to the state by Nov. 6, so needs to know if the town is behind it or not as letters of support are part of the RFP package.
Marks said the prison would fit with the town's new 5-year Strategic Economic Development Plan, which calls for diversifying its job market.
The prison would be second or third largest employer if it is built here, he said.
Murphy said MTC has 13 private prisons in the United States and Australia.
Arizona has had private prisons for 20 years, he said. MTC has one in Marana, which was the first privately operated prison in the state, and in Kingman.
"We feel Prescott Valley is ideally suited for an operation of this size," Murphy said.
Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye asked what makes Prescott Valley an ideal site for the proposed prison.
Murphy said most of Arizona's prisons are located between Phoenix and Tucson, so this one would not compete with any of the existing prisons.
"We're looking for growing communities, like Prescott Valley. We like being in industrial parks. Several businesses are building near our prison in Kingman," he said.
Murphy stressed that MTC only wants to be in communities where it is wanted.
Councilwoman Mary Baker asked about MTC's prisons escape record. Murphy said it is excellent. "We've had no escapes in Arizona, and only one in Texas, which was 10 years ago," he said.
Murphy said the inmates in MTC's minimum-security prisons have a lot to lose by escaping. The prisoners' average stay in one of these prisons is six to eight months, he said.
Murphy said if the state's Nov. 6 submittal date isn't changed the state will probably award the bid in January.
If the notice to proceed is issued in February 2008, Murphy said the prison will open 14-24 months later.
Murphy said they try to hire 90 percent of their employees from the local area. "We exceeded that percentage in Kingman," he said.
Nye asked if the town would be responsible for putting the water and sewer to the prison.
Tarkowski said town and PVEDF were planning to start talking about beginning the procedure to get the infrastructure to the proposed industrial park site. Initially, staff was looking at putting the utilities and road improvements during a three to four year period, he said.
Councilman Mike Flannery said, "I don't believe the town is in any shape to shoulder the total cost of the infrastructure." Several other members of the council agreed.
Tarkowski stressed that the town hasn't entered into any negotiations with MTC or anyone else on the infrastructure to that site.
Murphy said that MTC could enter into talks about sharing the cost of the infrastructure, which it has done in some of the communities it has prisons in.
In regards to the prison, Mayor Harvey Skoog said, "The prisoners won't be thinking of anything but to finish their sentence. Its location is far enough from the fairgrounds and Mingus West. The traffic to the site would be minimal, and it looks like a fairly clean industry."
Council members said they look forward to seeing the figures for the utilities and roadwork needed.
Tarkowski said if the council decides to proceed with the project after looking at the figures Oct. 18, it could approve an agreement with MTC Oct. 25.