Flagstaff has a remarkable number of assets that are attractive to potential employers.
Jack Fitchett is the new business attractions manager for the city of Flagstaff. We sat down with him recently to find out more about his job.
What role does the manager play in business attractions?
As a business attractions manager for the City of Flagstaff, my job is to help highly skilled employers choose Flagstaff as their new home when considering the decision to relocate or expand their business.
I am a resource for potential employers and act as an ombudsman to connect them to resources and contacts that will make their transition to our community as easy as possible. By helping to attract these high quality employers, they are providing quality jobs to our residents and making Flagstaff a more affluent place to live, work and play.
What are some of the city's top economic development priorities?
Flagstaff is largely a tourist destination and seven million visitors a year can attest to this. However, one of the top priorities for me as a Business Attraction Manager and for our economic development team is to help strengthen and diversify our economic base by focusing on attracting businesses in specific target sectors. The biomedical field is a great example of a sector that our team has focused on and that has seen significant growth over the past few years. Additionally, we have focused on manufacturing, aerospace, and technology companies that will also help provide quality, high-paying jobs to our community.
What tools does the city currently have to support the business attraction?
In July 2020, Flagstaff City Council unanimously approved several new incentives in support of corporate attraction efforts. The job creation incentive provides eligible new businesses up to $ 15,000 that can be used for a variety of approved expenses including staff development, moving expenses, various training courses, etc.
The development reinvestment program provides incentives for new businesses by allocating a portion of the city's construction sales tax to reimbursement of numerous approved expenses including various site improvements and public infrastructure.
These two incentives have expanded the city's economic development toolkit and have already helped attract several new businesses to our community.
In addition to providing direct incentives, the Business Attraction program can provide analytics for businesses to better understand market dynamics and help coordinate resources in the community in terms of human resource development, training, and available real estate. We have software tools and great partners.
What is one of Flagstaff's greatest assets when it comes to attracting businesses?
Flagstaff has a remarkable number of assets that are attractive to potential employers. One thing that immediately comes to mind is the immense quality of life that our small mountain town offers with its connection to nature. Another obvious choice, along with Northern Arizona University, would be our highly skilled workforce that drives avid graduates into the open arms of companies in need of additional talent. A third is the logistical advantage of having a motorway, a transcontinental railroad line and an expanding commercial airport. We have big plans here.
Are there any new employers who have chosen Flagstaff as a result of these attraction efforts?
In the past three months, several new employers have chosen Flagstaff. Two exciting examples are Katalyst Space Technologies and UACJ Whitehall Industries.
Katalyst Space Technologies is a young aerospace company currently in contract negotiations to work with NASA and the US military. The company is expected to start operations in Flagstaff in early May and will create more than 30 new jobs over the next three years. Katalyst plans to work closely with NAU, Lowell Observatory and USGS. This is one of the reasons the company wanted to make Flagstaff their new home. We're excited to see Katalyst join our community when business shoots for the stars.
UACJ Whitehall Industries is an automobile manufacturer that makes various parts for electric vehicles. Whitehall recently secured space in the former Walgreens Distribution Facility and will begin operations in late April. Whitehall plans to invest up to $ 60 million in this expansion and is expected to create 120 high-paying jobs in the area over the next year and 350 over five years. The company's average wage will be 60% higher than Coconino County's per capita income. We look forward to the tremendous positive impact Whitehall Industries will have on our community and our residents.
Are there any major projects that you are currently working on?
One major project currently in progress is the master development process on a 31.45 acre property adjacent to our Pulliam airport. Genterra LLC was recently selected to provide its services and assist the city in this process and ultimately begin developing this package. This website is being developed to make room for potential manufacturing, research and development companies, as well as other companies that will complement our growing airport.
The City and Genterra LLC hope to continue making steady progress towards this vision over the next year. If everything goes according to plan, the groundbreaking ceremony could begin at this point in spring 2022.
If you have any questions about the economic development and business attraction of the city of Flagstaff, contact Jack Fitchett at JFitchett@flagstaffaz.gov. ChooseFlagstaff.com. FBN
By John Saltonstall
John Saltonstall is the Business Retention and Expansion Manager in the Economic Vitality Division for the City of Flagstaff. He can be reached at email@example.com.