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Sun, June 16

State tourism display and economic development ideas keep chamber moving ahead

Review/Salina Sialega
Above, Linda McFarland, left, administrative assistant for the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Ab Jackson, chamber CEO and executive director, pose in front of the chamber’s new Arizona Tourism Office Enhancement Center.  
At right, Jackson shows one of two signs on Highway 89 in Chino Valley that point travelers to the chamber as a designated Arizona Tourism Office. People can information about destination spots across Arizona and the West Coast.

Review/Salina Sialega Above, Linda McFarland, left, administrative assistant for the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Ab Jackson, chamber CEO and executive director, pose in front of the chamber’s new Arizona Tourism Office Enhancement Center. At right, Jackson shows one of two signs on Highway 89 in Chino Valley that point travelers to the chamber as a designated Arizona Tourism Office. People can information about destination spots across Arizona and the West Coast.

Enhancement center grant

Lowell Observatory and the Arboretum in Flagstaff, the Phippen Museum and Sharlot Hall in Prescott, Sedona, the Bisbee mine, Hoover Dam, and much more. These are just some of the destinations that tourists and local residents alike can get information about at a new enhancement center at the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce.

"We have brochures to places that, with the price of gas today, could be day trip," said Linda McFarland, administrative assistant at the chamber.

The enhancement center is a wooden wall unit holding brochures from places in five regions of Arizona and the West Coast. The Chino chamber is a designated Local Visitors Information Center, which requires them to provide tourist information for travelers. Signs on Highway 89 direct people to stop at the Chino office at 448 N. Highway 89, Suites I-J, phone 636-2493. The offices are in the shops next to the Chino Valley Medical Center at Road 1 North and the highway.

McFarland applied for a $1,500 Information Center Enhancement (ICE) grant from the Arizona Office of Tourism to get the center built, which matches a larger enhancement center inside the chamber office holding chamber members' brochures and advertising spots on the center.

"Tourism is an important part of Arizona with people coming to the state for the nice weather and other reasons," McFarland said. A smaller rack displays the same brochures outside the chamber office at all times for weekend and evening hours when the chamber is closed.

As part of the grant application, McFarland had to research wall units and get three bids for the type their office needed, and to describe the need.

The grant requires that the chamber "provides an organized and attractive way to display the brochures, rack cards and pamphlets for people coming to the center," Linda said.

Economic Development

Chamber CEO and executive director, Ab Jackson, has offered his 50 years of living in Arizona to the advantage of economic development in Chino Valley. (Ab grew up in Willcox in Southern Arizona.)

Currently the Town of Chino Valley contracts with a Phoenix firm to promote business growth in Chino Valley. Jackson suggested that the Town take a portion of that expense and pay him to do the same thing, to recruit new companies.

He plans to use his connections with people he knows in government agencies at the state level to find ways to pass on information about Chino Valley, especially regarding rural development. And he will seek out grants that will help beautify Chino Valley and other purposes. He visualizes Chino Valley fitting the description of an "agri-burg," a vibrant community that retains its rural feel, such as with Farmers Markets.

He also wants to expand the chamber's website that currently gets 100,000 hits a month.

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