Originally Published: December 2, 2013 6 a.m.
A half-million dollar grant from the Arizona Commerce Authority that the Town of Prescott Valley received this past week could help generate millions for the local economy.
For the third year, ACA is distributing $2 million in Rural Economic Development matching grants focused on helping rural communities build infrastructure and attract high-wage industry. ACA Senior Vice President Keith Watkins announced Prescott Valley as award recipient at the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation's quarterly breakfast on Wednesday.
"Lack of infrastructure is historically the weak point in rural communities," Watkins said. "To attract industry-based employers, someone has to step up and build the infrastructure. It's a testament to the Town and the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation for taking the risk."
Prescott Valley's need is to build a road from the Big Sky Business Park on the eastern side of town south to Highway 69. The Enterprise Parkway connector will provide a direct transportation line for nine existing businesses to the highway, as well as open access to additional sites for future development.
"The connector will enhance traffic routing for the Ace Hardware Regional Support Center - the largest distribution business in Yavapai County and a major regional employer - as well as benefiting regional distribution centers: Hensley Brewing Co. and Canyon Distribution, plus Superior Industries, Prudential Overall Supply, Lockheed Martin, Central Yavapai Fire District, among other businesses," Joseph Valdez, ACA director of communications and community affairs, said.
"It will help move freight more efficiently and opens up the park to have more employers," Watkins noted. "The whole idea is not only to allow employers to grow, but to make properties in the park more competitive to get other employers to land there."
The Commerce Authority distributes the grants in two rounds of $1 million annually, with two recipients per round, and this time the Town of Prescott Valley and the City of Coolidge each get $500,000, Watkins said.
He described the matching grant as a contractual agreement with the town.
"Our grant is just a small fraction to put the road in. The town has a significant contribution. It also administers the grant and does the construction and all the work," Watkins said.
Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said he won't know what the town's financial contribution will be until the council approves the grant and the bidding, engineering and permitting processes are complete.
"The town will end up kicking in at least the same amount as the grant," he said. "There are costs associated with tying into a state highway."
PVEDF Director Gary Marks said about two months ago he started working on the grant for 4,150 feet of linear road that would have a positive impact on safety and add potential economic vitality to the Big Sky Business Park.
But Tarkowski said the idea for the road was conceived in the mid-1990s, when he still was Public Works director.
"Bill Fain (Fain Signature Group) and myself went out and located a likely alignment for a road that would connect to the highway," he said.
"In all likelihood, we won't see construction until at least July," Tarkowski said, adding, "Some dirt has been moved out there already."
Valdez said the proposed road also will connect the highway directly to Arizona's first (and only) Gold Certified Site, making it more attractive for development.
The ACA launched the Certified Sites program in September to provide a database of "shovel ready" rural sites that makes it easier for industry employers to identify where to relocate or establish new businesses. (See accompanying sidebar.)
"Once completed, the project will enable development of three to four additional Certified Sites," Valdez said.
Watkins said that while many communities sit back and wonder how to attract business, Prescott Valley is being proactive, investing in future employers.
"We couldn't be more proud of what Prescott Valley has done," Watkins said. "Thank you for being such wonderful partners and being so invested in the state."