Butch MeriwetherBy Butch Meriwether

When companies decide they want to relocate to Mohave County or decide to expand their current operations here, they don’t have to shop around for information, demographic data and/or assistance.

The multifaceted agency headed up by Bennett Bratley is designed to meet the growing needs of companies and is a one-stop-information source called Mohave County Economic Development Department (MCEDD).

Bennett Bratley became the MCEDD director in 2009 and he has a background in real estate which is a valuable asset to the county. His department offers a variety of services and programs designed to help companies with site location suggestions, relocations, expansions or start-ups as smooth as possible.

They do this by: providing general and custom data and demographic reports; improving business infrastructure in the region; assisting with applications and set-ups for incentive, grant and workforce training programs; introducing businesses to financial contacts, regulatory authorities and strategic partners; coordinating build-to-suit projects; providing custom proposals, research and labor market analysis; and helping with workforce recruitment.

According to their website, MCEDD provides an integrated approach of programs and services to support local business start-ups or expansions of existing companies. Part of their objective is to attract companies and industries to Mohave County offering high value jobs that will provide a boost to the local economy.

“Most potential projects will have workforce questions or concerns so we will work very closely with the Mohave County Workforce to help address those questions,” Bennett Bratley said. “There may be some training questions which we bring the expertise of Mohave Community College and other educational programs into the conversation.”

The county’s economic development department, along with its partner organizations, believes that when a business succeeds in the county, so does the entire region.

MCEDD partners with other Mohave County organizations and municipalities such as the Lake Havasu City Partnership for Economic Development, the cities of Kingman and Bullhead City, Fort Mohave Development Corporation (Fort Mohave Tribe), Kingman Airport and Industrial Park and last but not least, the Hualapai Tribe.

The partners, along with MCEDD, work jointly with each other especially in an intellectual-endeavor manner and they share information in a cooperative spirit with businesses and industries currently here or the ones who might desire to relocate to the county. Their goal is to target and encourage manufacturing, energy, distribution, logistics, and healthcare service industries to relocate or expand to the various geographical areas of the county.

MCEDD is currently working with 10 different companies they consider large-scale projects and that have expressed interest in either expanding their operations in Mohave County or moving their operations here. “We don’t want to release the actual names of the companies we are working with at this time,” Bratley said. “We only refer to some of them by codenames when discussing the project because we do not want other counties and states to know certain companies are either contemplating setting up operations here or are planning on expanding their current operations.

“For the Mohave County area, I would consider a large-scale project as being at least 100,000 square feet, 50 employees or a capital investment of more than $7 million,” Bratley said. “Projects typically fall under the following types; new business coming, existing business expanding and/or keeping a current business from relocating.”

The 10 large-scale projects MCEDD is currently involved in include:

Project Tubular, $10 million capital investment, 40 jobs (manufacturing distribution) and is in the site selection process;

Project West II, $15 million capital investment, 67 Jobs (distribution center) and is in the site selection process;

Project Iron Man, $12 million capital investment, 150 jobs over a three year period and is in the site selection process;

Project Walmart, $15-20 million capital investment, 300 jobs (retail), in Fort Mohave;

Project Aspen, $5-8 million capital Investment, 225 jobs over a three year period and is in the site selection process;

Project Poolside, $10 million capital investment, 100 employees over a two year period (manufacturing and distribution) and is in the site selection process;

Project George, 15 million capital investment, 200 employees during the first year (distribution center) and is in the site selection process;

Project Summit, $20-$30 million capital investment, 100 jobs during the first year, 200 jobs by the fourth year and is in the site selection process;

Project Gray Hawk, $140-150 million capital investment, 300+ construction jobs, 70 Megawatt photovoltaic solar farm with a current 25 year power purchase agreement (PPA) in place; and

Project Cliff Rose, $140-$150 million capital investment 300+ construction jobs, 70 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm and has a PPA in place.

“We are excited about the Walmart Supercenter to be constructed in Fort Mohave,” Bratley said. “It is the first Walmart to be constructed in the county without it being located in one of the cities. The project is a 155,271 square foot building, is expected to generate $50,000,000 in taxable sales and employ about 300 people.”

The county’s economic development department has also developed a program targeted at resident small business owners which have been in business in Mohave County for at least two consecutive years and are currently poised for growth.  They partnered with the Small Business Development Center and other local economic development agencies in the county to provide grants to put business through the training.

MCEDD is in the final stages of completion of a well at the Griffith Industrial Park along the I-40 corridor. The new capacity of the well will enable the county to be ready to supply water to any new industry looking to locate to the industrial park. “This expansion would not have been possible without the $500,000 grant that was written by our department and awarded to us for the project,” Bratley said. “Having this infrastructure in place will cut a year off the wait time for a business to become operational when it comes to having the water they need.”

Bennett Bratley encourages any company that wants to relocate, expand their current business or is planning a new start-up to contact their office or one of their regional partners for all of their industry needs and questions (please see sidebar story with detailed information about MCEDD economic regional partners’ contact information and the various projects they have been involved in).

Mohave County’s economic development is not stagnant because numerous projects have either been completed in the last few years or there are others “in the works.”