New inquiries by businesses could create jobs, reduce taxes, supervisor says
Pinal County has seen an increase in the amount of inquiries from companies interested in expanding, starting up or relocating to this area, according to Timothy Kanavel, economic development program manager/county manager for the Pinal County Economic Development Department.
Calls to his office have risen in number from 28 during the first six months of 2013 to 102 between July 1 and mid-November, Mr. Kanavel said during a phone interview last week.
“Inquiries come to us through the county economic development website, phone calls, our recruitment campaign (marketing), the Arizona Commerce Authority, cold calls and other agencies such as Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Central Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, etc.,” Mr. Kanavel wrote in an e-mailed response to questions from county Supervisor Todd House last week.
Supervisor House provided the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent with a copy of the e-mail last week during an interview.
“Everybody hears about all the nationwide doom and gloom. I’m trying to educate people about what’s happening here in Pinal County,” Supervisor House said during last week’s interview. A resident of Apache Junction, Mr. House represents county District 5, which covers Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and parts of San Tan Valley.
Supervisor House said he is paying close attention to several projects that could directly impact the far east Valley.
He said he is keeping an eye out for any renewed interest in a study to realign U.S. Highway 60 between Superstition Freeway and Florence Junction. The bypass study, which began in 2006, looked at an area that extends from the Goldfield Road traffic interchange, continues through the Gold Canyon community, and ends just west of the intersection of U.S. 60 and State Route 79 at Florence Junction, according to an e-mailed response to questions from Dustin Krugel, public information officer for the Arizona Department of Transportation.
It would realign U.S. 60 around the southwest side of Gold Canyon past the site of the Arizona Renaissance Festival just east of Peralta Trail Road, Mr. Krugel said.
Traffic heading east toward the festival, an annual event that usually takes place in February and March, can back up on U.S. 60 during the two months the festival takes place, Supervisor House said. However, he is hesitant to support any realignment that would redirect traffic away from businesses along that corridor, he said.
ADOT projects are allocated funding at 5-year intervals and this project was not part of the last allocation, Mr. Krugel said.
“ This project is competing with other statewide construction projects across Arizona; therefore, ADOT can not be sure when and if this project will be budgeted,” he said.
Much economic development is taking place throughout greater Pinal County, Mr. House said. Phoenix Mart, a 585-acre master-planned community including a 1.7million-square-foot global commerce center and 4 million square feet of support facilities, broke ground Nov. 7 in Casa Grande; it is expected to create 10,000 jobs when it opens, according to its website, http://phoenixmart. com.
Supervisor House said he believes nearby farm land could be used to warehouse merchandise showcased at the commerce center.
Other new projects coming to or under way in Pinal County, according to Mr. Kanavel, include:
- a new casino by the San Carlos Apache Tribe, which is scheduled to break ground in March;
- two dairy product (yogurt and ice cream) manufacturing facilities in Casa Grande;
- a research and development facility for a major, global heavy equipment manufacturer;
- development of a nationally recognized health institute at the BIO2 facilty near Oracle;
- an agriculturally based manufacturing facility expansion and relocation from Mexico that would be associated with a longtime Arizona agricultural property;
- and a renewable energy resource facility that converts local animal waste to natural gas.
Supervisor House said that while much of the activity may not occur locally, new and expanded businesses such as the proposed Resolution Copper Mine near Superior, Union Pacific Red Rock Classification Yard in Casa Grande and Pinal Airpark in Marana could bring new jobs to the area and decrease county property taxes paid by the residents of Pinal County by as much as two-thirds.
The primary property tax rate for Pinal County is $3.7999 per $100 of assessed value, according to the county website, http:// www. pinalcountyaz. gov/ departments/ budgetoffice/pages/faq.aspx. This is the primary tax rate and is used for general operation of the county such as courts and public safety, according to the website. Pinal County itself has no secondary tax, the website said.
He said the county receives about $75 million annually in property taxes. He estimated new property taxes paid by the Resolution Copper Mine, if it were up and running, would offset about $25 million of that amount, while the railroad would contribute between $10 million and $15 million in property taxes and expanding services at the airpark would generate about $10 million.
When asked if he believed the government would reduce existing property taxes, Supervisor House replied, “ The money doesn’t belong to the county, it belongs to the people and needs to go back to the people.”
The move to build the Resolution Copper Mine was dealt a blow Nov. 13 when Congress canceled a vote on a bill to allow a land swap, according to a statement released by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., on his website. The congressman co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., according to his website.
The Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act authorizes a federal land exchange that would open the third largest undeveloped copper resource in the world, near Superior, according to the congressman’s statement.
In exchange, more than 5,000 acres of high-value Arizona conservation lands — encompassing endangered species, sensitive ecosystems, recreational sites and historic landmarks — would be protected, the statement said.
Rep. Gosar, who has a satellite office at 270 E. Hunt Highway, Suite 12 in San Tan Valley, said in his statement the mine would create more than 3,700 local jobs, generate more than $61.4 billion in economic activity and could supply 25 percent or more of the nation’s domestic copper demand.
Supervisor House said he supports the land swap.
“ We don’t want to lose sight of the 4,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land that we want to save, and the 2,500 good-paying jobs the mine would create,” he said.