Originally Published: July 9, 2010 11:09 p.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - The Town Council voted unanimously Thursday to renew a three-year contract with the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation - but not before asking several questions to PVEDF's executive director.
The council voted for the contract, which begins with the current fiscal year, for $150,000 a year after a discussion that lasted nearly an hour - and a week after discussing the matter in detail in a work/study meeting.
The agreement approved by the council cut the town's contribution by nearly 10 percent from the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which concluded June 30. Staff also revised the agreement by taking out a provision that would enable PVEDF to receive 10 percent more from the town in the next fiscal year if the town's general fund revenues climb.
The town government has contracted since 1996 with PVEDF to recruit non-retail employers, such as manufacturers, who create higher-paying jobs. PVEDF fell short of its goal of creating 500 jobs in the past three fiscal years. It set the goal of recruiting 525 jobs in the current and next two fiscal years.
PVEDF takes credit for creating 186 jobs during the past three fiscal years, according to a report it issued July 1 to the council.
PVEDF Executive Director Gary Marks explained the lengthy process for recruiting business prospects in response to questions from Councilman Mike Flannery. He said it can take anywhere from two to three years from initial contacts with representatives from a prospect until the time the prospect makes a commitment to opening a business in Prescott Valley.
He said one promising prospect canceled a deal with only two hours of notice before a deadline, costing Prescott Valley the possibility of 650 jobs.
Flannery used the term "three-legged stool" to describe economic development in Prescott Valley: PVEDF, business retention and expansion by the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce and the recruitment of retailers by the town's economic development manager, Greg Fister.
Marks said PVEDF lost a bid to attract a call center with 400 jobs. He added Yavapai County and the state of Arizona offered "zero incentives" for wooing the call center, which located in another state.
Marks said the public has a "major misconception" about PVEDF because the foundation does not close deals. "It takes an entire partnership to close deals."
Responding to a question from Flannery, Marks said communities and states seek capital investment and long-term jobs. He distributed a handout indicating that since 2002 PVEDF created 1,060 jobs and generated $141.5 million in capital investment.
Flannery said he does not think any council member is "satisfied" with PVEDF's performance in job creation over the past three fiscal years.
"I guess I get frustrated," Flannery said. "It is not a perfect situation, but it is what we have."
Responding to a question from Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye, Marks said it is not uncommon to work on a project for months before knowing the identity of the company. He added he signed three confidentiality agreements with companies barring him from disclosing their identities before they were willing to go public.
Before voting to renew the contract, Councilwoman Patty Lasker commented, "This is where we need you the most. We should not be having this conversation. We need to get going and be thankful that we have an economic development foundation."