Feb 242012

By Linda Kor —

The Town of Snowflake is moving forward into the year with an eye to job opportunities for residents, and the potential for industrial and housing development in the community.

As part of that endeavor, town officials have created the Snowflake Economic Development Committee to keep community leaders abreast of economic opportunities by taking part in regional and state economic development committees such as RealAZ Corridor and the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG).

Serving on the economic development committee are Vice Mayor Jason Whiting, Councilman Tom Poscharsky, Northland Pioneer College Foundation Executive Director Lance Chugg, local businessmen Kirk Brimhall and Robb Hatch, and community representative Kerry Ballard. Also on the board was Arizona Public Service representative Michael Cole, who has since been re-located to Prescott Valley. His replacement has yet to be appointed. Town Manager Paul Watson is an ex-officio member of the committee.

The focus of the group is not only job development, but also housing that will be needed as part of a potential growth in population. One industry the committee is directing its efforts towards is the mining operations currently being developed in the Holbrook Basin. “We’ve been talking with the potash companies and assisting them where we can. A lot of our focus is in trying to create jobs, then other things will fall into place such as ancillary industry that will increase our tax base and allow for more infrastructure development,” explained Watson.

Moving ahead with efforts to build a thriving economy after years of recession is something that Watson wants to plan carefully. “I think we’re ahead in recognizing opportunities even though the skeptic in me says you’re never ready. So we’re still identifying needs and solutions,” he commented. One of those potential solutions is looking at available land for development. “We’ve been working with a local landowner, Aztec Land and Cattle, and are discussing possible sites for development that are tied to our infrastructure,” Watson said.

He also noted that the town has a number of residential projects that were at various stages of development when the housing market hit rock bottom. Those projects may now have an opportunity to be revitalized. Some developments have infrastructure in place, but others do not. “We need to make sure adequate water, sewer and roads are available. At this time our sewage system is able to accommodate double its current capacity, so that should be fine for awhile,” stated Watson.

With the budget limitations being experienced by most communities, the town has minimal funds for capital projects this year, but will be creating a comprehensive maintenance plan for existing roads and contributing to the restoration of the Academy Building. The restoration is being spearheaded by the Snowflake Academy Foundation, which has already raised over $175,000 for the restoration and has been awarded more than $560,000 in grant funding. This year the town will be directing additional Community Block Grant funding to the project, which will be used as a library once the restoration is complete.