GYEDC: Firms Investing Millions in Yuma

2013-03-19 20:48:00

Five companies are investing millions of dollars in capital improvements in Yuma this fiscal year, the Yuma City Council was informed during its work session Tuesday evening.

Their investments not only are good news for the area’s economy and labor force, they also will result in an estimated $1 million in new tax revenues for the city of Yuma this year, reported Julie Engel, president and CEO of Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp.

The projects are being funded in part by grants they received through the assistance of GYEDC, Engel noted. They include:

• Yuma Aviation Industrial Center is being built at a cost of $7.1 million. It is part of the Defense Contractors Complex being developed by the Yuma County Airport Authority. The multitenant center will be available for lease by defense contractors and is expected to create 150 jobs and generate more than $1 million in private investment. The airport received a $3.7 million Economic Development Administration grant to help fund the project.

• Datepac is doing a $1.5 million project this year, part of a multiyear expansion of the date processing facility. This year, Datepac received $175,000 through the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Rural Economic Development Grant Program. Last year, it received $60,000.

• Yuma Truck Driving School has invested $215,000 and plans to build a greenfield training school in 2013-14. Currently, the school has to transport truck driving students to another site it now leases for actual training behind the wheel. Between 2012 and 2013, 133 drivers were trained, certified and placed in full-time jobs through the school.

• InsulTech, which makes high-tech thermal and acoustic insulation for commercial applications, is investing $563,925 in its Yuma operation this year. The company plans to increase its work force by additional 39 employees within the next six months. InsulTech moved its operation to Yuma from California last year and received a state grant of $460,000.

• Convey Health Solutions (formerly known as NationsHealth) has invested $100,000 since opening a call center in Yuma in the fall of 2012. This year it plans to invest $2.8 million for redevelopment of its permanent site in the former Target building and plans to add 250 full-time jobs this year. The company was awarded $240,000 through the Rural Economic Development Grant Program to help fund the improvements.

Together, the projects reflect a total capital investment of more than $12.2 million in Yuma and will create hundreds of new jobs, said Engel.

So far this year, 2,039 jobs have been created throughout Yuma County by companies that GYEDC has assisted over the years, Engel reported.

On the down side, one company had 12 layoffs, she said.

Engel also reported on the results of a survey in January by Avalanche Consulting in which she and other economic development officials across the country participated.

Results of the survey show that economic developers report lower-than-expected activity in leads, relocation prospects, prospect visits, expansion prospects and announcements.

“Most economic developers viewed their state and local economic policies as fair to good,” according to Avalanche, “but an overwhelming majority (73 percent) view federal policy as poor. Uncertainty stemming from that federal dysfunction is a major contributor to the pessimism reported.”

GYEDC has received fewer leads, Engel said, but the ones it has seen are “seriously active.”

To a question by Councilwoman Leslie McClendon about why GYEDC isn’t working to attract new retail to the Yuma area, Engel responded that the organization’s mandate from cities and the county is to focus on industry because of its multiplier effect.