Sooooo many meetings….There is a LOT of interest in our region, maybe more now, than at any other time in the past. This equates to numerous gatherings in person, as well as on zoom or even old-fashioned phone calls. Vibrant communities don’t just happen, they are created with someone taking the lead on engagement while actively seeking out collaborative efforts to fill needs. Economic vibrancy is not just about a new or expanded business, but also the homes new workers will move into, the education needed for workforce development, safe streets and parks, areas to shop and eat. This takes a lot of coordination of several different organizations and departments. Your collective elected officials and municipal employees are always looking at ways to enhance the life quality of residents.
Vetting industry partners and possible developers are part of this process. Ensuring current planning fits into long range strategies. Taking time to get to know potential tenants. This past week I attended the ICSC Western Conference = Innovating Commerce Serving Communities. Here I met with a number of potential retailers who are intrigued with Northern Arizona and wanting to expand their footprint. Names which are quite common across the nation, like Little Caesars and Starbucks. Outside of conferences such as this, interest in Winslow and our section of Interstate 40 runs high with developers of all sorts. None of this interest will matter however, if we don’t have housing to accommodate. It’s a bit of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Also, do we want just any kind of build out, or do we want to take our time and really get to know these potential suitors.
This question is easy enough with the global name brands, but how do we create relationships with those who are not from the region or even the state. Just last week, I had the opportunity to meet with the owners of GEN2 a company which produces fuel from plastic waste – they are in fact interested in opening a manufacturing facility in Winslow. They would bring dozens of jobs paying a minimum of $25 per hour along with benefits and skillsets needed to feel confident in your position. Last month I visited with another company in New Mexico and another in Texas. The key here is getting to know the integrity and values of the leadership team as well as see examples of how they behave in their current communities. It takes time but is well worth the outcome. Be patient as we grow, I encourage you to participate with public engagement and be part of the process.