Mar 232011

By Naomi Hatch —

The potash mining project undertaken by Passport Potash just east of Holbrook could bring 1,000 to 1,500 construction jobs and 300 to 500 permanent jobs to Navajo and Apache counties, Town Manager Paul Watson advised town council members at their March 15 meeting.

“The indirect impact would be even larger with other ancillary services and an economic boost,” said Watson. “We’re very hopeful, and we will work diligently to work with them any way we can to move that process forward.”

Watson noted that he had attend a meeting at the site the previous day, and those interested in moving forward with the potash plant were very impressed with the support of Navajo and Apache counties, and the cities and towns.

“This is a project that will go on for many years and provide employment for not only us, but for our children and grandchildren to come back to this area,” said Watson.

He gave credit to Councilman Tom Poscharsky for other energy facilities that are looking at the area. “A group is looking at coming to the area to do test projects for growing a type of grass that can be burned in the biomass plant. If that comes to fruition, it can be a first step to others coming in with renewable energy on a larger scale,” said Watson, noting there is company that is not ready to go public that is discussing bringing a small manufacturing company to the community that would require 10 permanent employees and many more seasonal ones, with seasonal being approximately eight months out of the year.

“I, too, was impressed with the potash mine and what goes on. I hope it is something that is conceivable,” said Mayor Kelly Willis. “We weren’t talking millions of dollars; we were talking billions of dollars.”

“I believe we’re at a point where we can start planning for and anticipating new jobs in the area. With that we have the task and the due diligence to accommodate them and also accommodate the growth in our community to see that happen,” said Watson.