State pushing certified rural business sites [The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff]
(Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Oct. 06--One seminar at the 2013 Arizona Governor's Economic Development Conference held Wednesday in Flagstaff discussed the state's new economic development marketing tools for rural areas of the state.
One of these marketing tools, the Certified Sites Program, allows owners of shovel-ready business sites in rural Arizona to increase their property's exposure to site selectors. Selected owners can display their property site information on the Arizona Commerce Authority website for sale with asking price.
The sites program is administered by the ACA, a state economic development program that replaced the state Department of Commerce two years ago.
"The ACA is a public/private partnership with a streamlined mission and enhanced tools to create jobs," said Keith Watkins, senior vice president of Economic Rural Development for the ACA, who led the seminar discussion.
Property owners can go on the ACA website and fill out an application to have their property advertised as a certified site.
"Certified sites are important because with the advent of the Internet, site selectors do the majority of their research online, looking at multiple states and cities," Watkins said "So for site selectors, it becomes a process of elimination. It is incumbent upon us (Arizona) not to be eliminated."
The ACA developed the program two years ago because there was no central database of employment properties in rural Arizona, he said.
The state's interest is job creation.
Not every property can become a "certified site," he said. "The sites must be properly zoned, have their infrastructure in place, have a published sale or lease price, and have remediated any environmental problems."
"The thing is businesses want to get up and operational as fast as they can, called speed-to-market," so to have the property shovel-ready reduces the time it takes the developer to complete the project and the costs, he said.
Another of the ACA's marketing tools is called Arizona Know How. Arizona Know How is a statewide branding campaign, which the ACA introduced six months ago. The campaign, both in print and digital, advertises Arizona's assets as a place to do business. The ads are placed in several national magazines such as Forbes.
Arizona Know How is a public/private partnership between the state and Arizona Public Service, the Salt River Project and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.
The ACA also advertises the certified sites to an extent, besides providing exposure online on the ACA website.
Another ACA marketing tool called Community Profile is not new but has been re-born by the ACA as an economic development tool. The communities who take advantage of this program must meet the state's definition of rural community. A rural community has a population of 750,000 or less or be an unincorporated city or town with a population of 150,000 or less and non-contiguous with a metropolitan area, by the ACA's definition.
Rural communities may provide demographic information to the ACA, which then displays Community Profiles on its website to provide information to business site selectors.
The ACA gives away $2 million a year in grant money to pay for infrastructure improvements on business sites in rural Arizona.
Asked about the success of the new ACA programs, Watkins said: "We just completed a banner year for FY 2013. We created 15,000 jobs with an average salary of $53,000 and attracted $1 billion in capital investment."
(c)2013 The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
Visit The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.) at www.azdailysun.com
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