May we admit to being excited by some local economic news?
We’re big proponents of successful business in the Gila Valley because the better the business sector does, the more jobs are created. And more jobs means an increasing tax base. And a larger tax base means cities, towns, the county and school districts can keep taxes low while still providing essential services.
We were overjoyed to read reporter Brooke Curley’s two stories in the Oct. 3 edition of Eastern Arizona Courier — one about a new business and the other a change in direction of one of the Valley’s most popular retailers.
Advanced Health and Wellness clinic opening is good news on two fronts — a new clinic means new jobs, especially for those wanting to start a career in the medical field. It’s especially good to have another outlet that nursing students at Eastern Arizona College might find work at, helping keep our children here to grow the local economy.
It’s also good news for anyone seeking a new or first-time physician. We have a number of new residents to the Gila Valley — thanks to the equally good news of Freeport’s Safford mining operation moving forward on the Lonestar mine — and too many have heard the phrase, “Sorry, we’re not taking on new patients,” when calling practices for a doctor’s appointment.
We are also happy to see the Howards finally open Main Street Bean coffee shop inside Ginaveve’s.
Jenny and John Howard are perfect examples of smart entrepreneurs, who adapt with the needs and desires of their client base. Ginaveve’s started as a knick-knack shop, the perfect place to get a holiday or house-warming gift. The Howards soon added gourmet olive oils and balsamics, then shifted away from the gift items to a “salandwich” — a salad and sandwich — shop.
Now it’s coffee, and we understand the store has been packed. Which, hopefully, means more people walking Safford’s Downtown and shopping other area retailers and enjoy area restaurants.
Speaking of the Downtown, we were also pleased with reporter David Sowders’ story in this edition about a proposed entertainment district in Safford.
An entertainment district gives a city an opportunity to approve, on a case-by-case basis, exemptions to liquor license rules regarding how close certain businesses can be to schools and churches.
We’re fans of the proposal because it may be a way to overcome what we believe are errors in zoning . . . or rather a lack of zoning at the time.
The best downtowns are a mix of retailers, restaurants, lounges and theaters. Each of those business types encourage visitors to the area to walk, window shop and stop in to buy or eat.
Too often, when downtowns suffer a downward trend — such as the recessions of the late 1970s, the early 1990s and the Great Recession of 2008 — and businesses close, property owners will take anyone willing to lease. Which means downtowns become filled with accountants, lawyers and, worst of all from a retail standpoint, churches and daycare centers.
Each is a destination business, which means people arrive, go to the service provider and leave — they don’t tend to window shop after visiting an accountant or lawyer. And we said that churches and daycare centers aren’t the most desirable for a downtown mix because of the limitations each places on lounges and restaurants that want to serve wine or beer.
That incompatible mix could have been solved with a forward-thinking zoning code in place at the time; however, almost no cities planned for downtowns we’ve experienced.
Which leaves communities such as Safford looking for another type of fix — such as an entertainment district. Entertainment districts reduce some of that difficulty in attracting good quality downtown-appropriate businesses to Main Street and other areas within the district.
Details still need to be worked out, of course, and the City Council will be hearing from a number of residents on both sides of the issue — those who want to grow for the future and those wanting things to remain the same.
Hopefully, the Council, after doing its work, comes to the right conclusion and approves an entertainment district, to keep the positive economic momentum we’re seeing moving forward.