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Mohave County Supervisors set aside $150K for economic development

October 4, 2018

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to reallocate $150,000 from the county’s construction reserve fund into economic development.

The transfer of funds came despite the county’s lack of an economic development director. The Board’s vote wasn’t unanimous, however. Supervisor Buster Johnson, of Lake Havasu City, gave the sole abstaining vote.

“I don’t think we need money in the fund to buy jobs with,” Johnson said. “At the moment, we don’t have an economic development director … it’s just more money sitting in a fund for foreseeable expenses.”

The Economic Development Enterprise Fund was created in 2016 with initial funding of $500,000, which would be used to draw new businesses to Mohave County. Acquired from recent property sales, the additional $150,000 could enhance the county’s appeal to prospective businesses with backing from the Arizona Commerce Authority. As to Mohave County’s economic development efforts, however, the use of that money may become complicated.

Former Mohave County Economic Development Director Bennett Bratley resigned from his position in August, and the Board of Supervisors has since sought to combine the role with that of a communications director – a position that has been vacant since 2012.

“I don’t mind helping businesses when they come in,” Johnson said. “In the past we’ve created roads and installed drainage systems … we did improvements that helped the whole county, rather than specific businesses. I wouldn’t have supported this if we had an economic development director, but at least it would have made sense.”

Any actual economic development expenditures would be brought before the Board of Supervisors for consideration, according to the proposal given by Supervisor Gary Watson. To Johnson, the incentives those expenditures may offer to businesses aren’t worth the cost.

“People come to Mohave County because they think it’s the best fit for their business … you can give them money, and they’ll take it, but if they come here, they were planning to come either way.”

According to former Arizona Sen. Ron Gould, who will soon join the to the Board of Supervisors, the funding could potentially be moved back if necessary. But like Johnson, Gould doesn’t agree with the Board’s decision.

“It seems odd to use one-time funding for an ongoing economic development expense,” Gould said.

Supervisor Watson was unavailable for comment as of Wednesday evening.

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