Good as it sounded, Mignonne Hollis made it clear last week there is still plenty of work to be done to accomplish regional economic development goals.
Hollis, executive director of the Economic Development Foundation, made a presentation to the Sierra Vista City Council June 25, providing an update on exciting ideas that will improve Cochise County’s economy with more jobs, new technologies and an improved cross-border business relationship.
The back end of these goals is “… where we get down to the really hard part,” as Hollis told the council. While there is hope that Cochise County — and specifically the Benson area — will be named one of the nation’s testing grounds for unmanned aerial systems, there are also concerns on how to accomplish expansion at the Benson airport. And, while the idea of establishing Foreign Trade Zones to create tax incentives to attract new and more business for the commercial and retail sectors holds merit, negotiating with each taxing district to accept that incentive could prove challenging.
Hollis was impressive in her confidence that the EDF is leading the charge in Cochise County with realistic opportunities that simply need cooperation to accomplish.
The measure of the effort, of course, will be gradual. Benson may be on the short list of federal sites for UAS development and that announcement is expected in October. Selection of the final six sites — which could mean 250 new jobs in the county and the promise of a high-tech growth industry — could take a year or longer.
We look forward to hearing more about the development of the Foreign Trade Zones, and what that may involve for taxing entities. Arizona ranks 27 in the nation for its favorable tax climate, according to Taxfoundation.org, and the public cost to improve that standing should not result in further reduction in the capacity to accomplish public services.