Believing in local businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit can become a matter of faith when the nation is doing its best to recover from an economic slump. During the 2008 recession, Mohave County had to believe in any businesses that came its way, simplifying its goals to help any business it could as well as overseeing the development of infrastructure.
Many rural areas in the United States were afflicted with poverty during and following the financial crisis, and it was no different for Mohave County, which struggled to maintain employment and attract larger job-creating projects.
Now that the situation has changed, so too has the economic development direction of the county. Narrowing its focus has allowed Mohave County to concentrate on quickly and successfully developing the infrastructure necessary to house budding new businesses and industries that have come to Mohave County. Industrial parks are nearing completion and others are expanding and soon ready to house new tenants as one of many attractions for businesses in the county.
With these new businesses comes a calculated effort to run training programs for the residents of Mohave County and see to a well-trained workforce ahead of the arrival of these new jobs. Communities have been given a chance to grow on their own with the county working on the infrastructure that improves the quality of life for those who live there and those who would choose to set up shop or make a new home.
Mohave County Economic Development oversees and supports the growth of all cities within its borders. The retail and tourism around Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City and the industrial sectors of Kingman are just two of the economic keystones of Mohave County. The Kingman Industrial Park supports sixty-seven businesses alone and sits next to the airport, giving it a constant flow of new people who make use of its goods and services. It is in the process of expanding 1,800 acres to support the need for additional growth. This is the fifth-largest county in the nation, and its sheer scale and range are clearly reflected in its businesses and tourist attractions.
Bullhead City and Laughlin share an economic relationship that serves those who want to patronize the casino gaming on one side of the Colorado River and then go shopping at the retail center on the other side. Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City both support a thriving industry of recreational boating and other water activities along with its own centers of retail and tourism. And a huge draw for tourists in Mohave County has for many years been the London Bridge, with people coming from all over the world to say they stood upon it.
This Victorian-era bridge once spanned the Thames River in London, England but was dismantled in the 1960s and moved Lake Havasu City. Each block from the original bridge was numbered before being moved and then used to clad a reinforced concrete bridge capable of supporting modern traffic loads.
In addition to London Bridge is Grand Canyon West, owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe with its glass Skywalk and zip line over the canyon and Indian and cowboy town. The longest stretch of Route 66, where several films have been made over the years and car shows and motorcycle rides flourish, is also a huge tourist attraction. These unique and varied tourist destinations add to the flavor of Mohave County.
Major changes are soon to be realized for the highway infrastructure of Mohave County, specifically the conversion of Highway 93 into Interstate 11 that will run north and south. The new Interstate 11 will stretch across the county from the southern Mexican border all the way north to the Canadian border.
This has been a very attractive prospect for businesses that want to be established in preparation for Interstate 11 becoming an important means of cross-country road travel. Already, there are two truck stops, and another seven are in the development process. These truck stops have already set the stage for other surrounding business to build. In combination with the future Interstate 11, Interstate 40 moving traffic east and west continues to be an economic driver for the county as does the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF).
Quite possibly the most exciting economic addition to Mohave County is an upcoming $3 billion renewable energy project. Mohave County will soon be home to a 340-megawatt, solar-powered, data center, occupying 717 acres south of Kingman near the Griffith Energy Facility. This solar field, which is being called ‘The Hive,’ will operate as a decentralized solar data center to be self-sustaining and stay off the electrical grid entirely.
“Pegasus Group Holdings and Plus Minus Power have joined together to create this project which I’ve been particularly excited about. Instead of a traditional building, the data center will be housed in shipping containers and surrounded by solar panels on trailers. Each container will have power going to it from the solar panels with battery backup. There is no power coming off the grid but if an excess of power is generated, it could be sold and placed on the grid to support the local economy. The data center is set up so if a container goes down, it won’t take everything down with it,” said Tami Ursenbach, the director of economic development for Mohave County and proponent of the data center project.
A project like this will also be bringing fiber optic internet service to new parts of Mohave County which will help ongoing efforts to upgrade the county’s internet offerings. Tami, who played an important part in the data center, has also been working on several manufacturing projects that are all at various stages of development. New projects in the energy industry consist of a new wind farm and another large solar project that will span eight thousand acres.
A project to manufacture machinery is moving forward, and three large distributors are looking to set up warehouses. The new distribution centers are bringing a slew of truck driver jobs, and Mohave County has been working with local colleges to increase the student body going into these truck driver programs as well as expanding the program to new areas.
One industry that is new to Mohave County is hemp farming. Starting on June first, licenses to grow hemp became available to farmers who have since jumped at the chance, and two thousand acres will soon be put to use. This goes together with the leasing of land to process the harvested hemp, keeping this new economic factor within the county and, once again, providing several new jobs that did not exist before.
All of these businesses become part of a community that has come to support each other, with some even reaching out to provide training for employees of other local businesses. Variety in business and industry will always be crucial to the economic development of Mohave County and its culture and personality.