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Our View: County needs a clearer vision about economic development

December 24, 2018

It’s clear Mohave County wants to be in the business of drumming up new business. That’s why the county agreed to a $500,000 incentive package last year to lure food distributor Dot Foods to Bullhead City, and it’s why county supervisors agreed earlier this month to hire an $80,000-per-year economic development manager.

However, it’s also clear that Mohave County has no vision when it comes to economic development. Everybody likes the idea of attracting new job creators and growing a stronger tax base, but nobody’s shared how, exactly, that might happen. Oh, there’s some money in the bank for additional incentive programs — perhaps not as large as the one offered to Dot Foods — but there are real philosophical disagreements about that process on the board of supervisors, and the county’s economic future isn’t the kind of thing we should be leaving up to consistent 3-2 decisions.

Even the hiring of the economic development manager was met with resistance from supervisors Ron Gould and Buster Johnson. Rather than continue to agonize over every economic development decision, it could be a lot less painful if the county were to initiate some sort of strategic planning process. Before she does anything else, Mohave County’s new economic development manager should create a vision plan for the future. She should gather input from a wide spectrum of sources, including the county’s four incorporated cities, to be sure that development interests countywide are as aligned as possible. The county needs to figure out what it wants its version of economic development to become. What are the main priorities? Recruiting job providers? Building a retail base? Growing infrastructure necessary for industry? Further developing the regional airport in Bullhead City?

We think Havasu’s Partnership for Economic Development, along with the development agencies in Bullhead City and Kingman, would have some important ideas to share on this front. All these agencies should be working together toward clear common goals, and county supervisors ought to have a way of measuring accountability.

Finally, the county should consider areas where it can assist ongoing local efforts, and on that front, we have a suggestion: Kickstart a Havasu gateway project. The roads leading into Havasu are maintained by Mohave County, and there’s a lot that could be done to ensure this area, where tourism is king, is as attractive and inviting to visitors as possible.

— Today’s News-Herald

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