BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City/Mohave Valley Association of Realtors devoted a lunch-and-learn session to economic development on Wednesday.
Representatives of local government and the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce told local real estate professionals that often they are first people newcomers meet in the Tri-state, so they shared information with this group and encouraged them to offer it to people they encounter while attempting to sell homes or other real estate.
About two hours of information was provided to help real estate people be goodwill ambassadors — especially when they are asked questions about the community and local economy.
“If you’re talking about caddisflies, you’re going to turn them off,” Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter told the audience.
Talking about what’s good about Bullhead City, the surrounding area and Mohave County in general is what the guest speakers talked about. That included various efforts and programs to help improve the business climate.
Knowing what someone interested in doing business in the county wants is key to recruiting new businesses and residents to work at them, said Tami Ursenbach, Mohave County Economic Development director.
John Pynakker, executive director and president of the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, emphasized that getting the community involved is crucial.
The county continues to attract new residents and new construction.
Pegasus Group Holdings and Plus Minus Power will join to operate a $3 billion renewable energy-powered data center south of Kingman. It will be situated near Interstate 40 on more than 700 acres. The data center will generate 340 megawatts of electricity using 160,000 solar panels to power hundreds of containers holding up to 500,000 computers, according to previous reports.
The county spent months trying to lure Pegasus and Plus Minus by arranging meetings with agencies they would need to work closely with. The county also found temporary space at Kingman Municipal Airport to store solar panels. There will be 50 jobs at the data center and 35 of these are “high paying,” she said.
It will bring tax money to the county and the employees will stimulate the local economy by spending money.
“They came here because of the weather,” according to Ursenbach.
She also noted that land is less expensive here than in Las Vegas and that it was easier to work with Mohave County, too. Someone representing a business looking to relocate to Arizona wanted to be there because there would be very little rain. They were leaning toward Flagstaff.
The locally aware audience started giggling. They know the northern Arizona city can get wet. Flagstaff receives an average annual rainfall of 23.14 inches — along with 77 inches of snowfall, according to USClimatedata.com.
“They thought all of Arizona was warm. They didn’t realize,” Ursenbach said.
Accessibility to other market areas is another important need. Businesses for truckers and other drivers to stop also serve as a draw to others requiring gasoline, snacks and other essentials while traveling. They learn about the area and pass along that knowledge, Ursenbach said.
She also noted that Mohave County compares favorably against other parts of the nation in “friendliness.”
That can be very important: A couple of spouses of people looking to start a business were looking for work opportunities in a less-friendly community Ursenbach didn’t identify.
“If you live here two years we’ll help you,” she said they were told.
Their spouses decided not to move the business there.
Hemp growers are coming to the county, including four who plan to operate on 600 acres each.
Ursenbach said the county lacks large commercial structures for agricultural and industrial uses.
Pynakker and Cotter took turns speaking at various points.
Pynakker made it clear that the chamber isn’t part of city government. It does have a contract with the city for tourism functions. He said the association is a “good relationship.”
The chamber worked to create a staffing arrangement between Dot Foods and Mohave Community College.
He noted that there has been a lot of economic growth in Needles and the Fort Mohave/Mohave Valley area — much to the benefit of Bullhead City and the region itself.
Cotter said the area has a “robust” level of health care, including two hospitals: Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City and Valley View Medical Center in Fort Mohave. He reminded them about the uniqueness of the Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse — especially in a community this size — and how sports tourism has brought a big boost to the local economy.
Pynakker said the chamber plans to add a medical provider section to its website so that someone new to the area seeking an oncologist can find one, for example.
Cotter also talked about how good conditions in surrounding areas benefit Bullhead City and vice versa.
Both men talked about Old Bullhead and what’s planned for that part of the city.
City and chamber officials who encounter people interested in the area — especially people seeking to relocate businesses — frequently work together to make arrangements, answer questions, even solve problems for these potential newcomers.
This extends to businesses looking to make changes. Smart & Final didn’t want to build a bigger store here without a liquor license but it couldn’t get one. Someone reached out to a local liquor store and convinced the owner to sell their full retail license to Smart & Final. The Smart & Final Extra at City Square came into being and the liquor store has a different license and sells only beer and wine, Pynakker said.
Cotter said that while home construction in Bullhead City is booming, the community is in great need of apartments.
He also explained that some residents’ desires to see such businesses as Trader Joe’s or Olive Garden open locations here could happen once the city has more residents.
Build-out could occur as the city’s population reaches 100,000 or even 110,000. There’s only so much water available to fulfill the needs of people and businesses, but there are only about 40,000 residents now, Cotter said.
Both also expressed optimism about again having airline service to one or even two large airports serving Laughlin/Bullhead City International Airport.
No carrier was identified.