In January 2005, county-wide entities representing the Economic Development, Tourism and Transportation sectors came together as “The Port Authority” to host an initial Governor’s Town Hall meeting and outline our key economic objectives. The meeting included:
- Members of our local community
- Key members of the Governor’s staff and state agencies
- Representatives from various Congressional offices
The Governor sent the Director of Transportation, Victor Mendez, the Director of Commerce, Gil Jimenez, and the Director of Tourism, Margie Emmermann, to participate in this event. From the office of the Governor, Gail Howard, Policy Advisor for Economic Development, and Jan Lesher, Director of the Southern Arizona Office, participated during the Town Hall meetings representing the Arizona Governor.
To learn more about what each sector has accomplished, click the links below:
The Transportation Coalition in Santa Cruz County was formed out of an overriding need to coordinate the efforts and resources of private business, the City of Nogales and Santa Cruz County. The focus was to promote and lobby towards the common goal of making international ports of entry, located in and around Nogales and Santa Cruz County, Arizona, the most efficient and effective international trade and tourism ports on the United States-Mexico border.
Following is an overview of our accomplishments since our inception in December 2004.
February 2005: Secured funds to hire Luis E. Ramirez Thomas, of Ramirez Advisors Inter-National, LLC, an international business, economic development and government relations advisor, to act on our behalf. Ramirez has contributed significantly on behalf of the Nogales and Santa Cruz Port Authority. (Learn more about Luis E. Ramirez Thomas)
February 2005: Participated in hearings by both the Transportation and Commerce Committees of the Arizona legislature to help create new funding streams in support of our Port Authority and other Port Authorities throughout Arizona.
February 2005: Met with Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and members of his staff to update them on delays at the Department of State in finalizing the Presidential Permit necessary in moving forward with the construction of two FAST lanes at the Mariposa Port of Entry.
March 2005: Participated in both the 50% and 75% presentations by the General Services Administration (GSA) as it pertains to the Feasibility Study for the Reconfiguration of the Mariposa Port of Entry. As a result of our involvement, GSA has agreed to include as part of its final report that there is a need to evaluate a port configuration that would separate commercial from non-commercial traffic at Mariposa.
March 2005: Along with the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, we met with Congressman Raul Grijalva and members of his staff at the FPAA office to reemphasize the community priority of refurbishing the Mariposa Port of Entry and of mitigating the negative impact of the train in Nogales as longer-term infrastructure projects endorsed by the FPAA, the Port Authority, the City of Nogales, and Santa Cruz County.
April 2005: Attended the annual “Border Station Conference” organized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Topics covered included: status of approximately fourteen ports of entry, and the need for expansion of the Mariposa commercial facility.
May 2005: Nogales City Councilman Ignacio J. Barraza, and Mayor Albert M. Kramer were instrumental in allocating $1 million of the City of Nogales recent bond issue to address a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks in downtown Nogales.
May 2005: Briefed Moody Investment Service of our goals and recent activities during a tour of the border area of Nogales. Our objective was to convince Moody to increase our rating, which will also have a beneficial impact on the schools’ and County’s ratings, resulting in increased funding opportunities for the Port Authority.
June 2005: Met with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and members of her staff during the Arizona Mexico Commission’s Plenary Session in Tucson. Participants at the meeting explained the need to obtain the Presidential Permit to expand the Mariposa Port of Entry and build the two additional commercial lanes for the next winter produce season. As a result, Governor Napolitano pledged to push the federal government to expedite the process to reconfigure the Mariposa Port.
From January through June 2005, we actively pushed for the State Department to expedite the issuance of a Presidential Permit in order for ADOT to build two (2) Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes at the Mariposa Port of Entry. On June 24, 2005, the Presidential Permit was approved and was officially announced at the Plenary Session of the Arizona Mexico Commission.
July 2005: During two public meetings, we were able to announce that the General Services Administration (GSA) included a construction alternative in the feasibility study to completely separate commercial traffic and passenger vehicles in a future reconfigure of the port.
Currently: We are participating in the Port of Guaymas-Tucson Logistics Analysis Study, a bi-national effort to create a deep-water port at Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, and to expand or upgrade the existing highway and rail line between the Port of Guaymas, Nogales, and Tucson. This project would add a very important maritime dimension to the CANAMEX Trade Corridor.
We have engaged in a bi-national dialogue with our sister community on the Mexican side of the border in order to jointly steer our future. This is critical for the long-term viability of our community, our environment, and our joint economic development efforts.
The Santa Cruz County Workforce Connection (SCC WC) was established in May 2000 following the passing of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in 1998. The SCC WC is the local One Stop Operator. There are currently two affiliated sites, one in downtown Nogales and one in uptown Nogales. The comprehensive One Stop System is not a physical location, but is a functioning system. All the partners are not housed in one location, but numerous partnerships have been created since its establishment.
In August 2005, the department was restructured and expanded to Santa Cruz County Commerce and Economic Development (SCC CED), with an additional focus on attracting and expanding commerce within the county. Here is a run down of what we have achieved in fiscal year July 2004 to June 2005:
Summary of Individuals Served: 18, 000 consumers accessed Workforce Connection resources from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005. Over 600 of these received transportation services and over 300 received intensive services.
Summary of Businesses Served: SCC CED has provided business services to over six large employers in the community. Each company served has over 50 employees.
New Business Center Workstations: Six workstations were recently purchased at the following locations:
- Nogales-Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce (completed)
- Santa Cruz Tourism Council at the Tubac Visitor Center
- Patagonia Area Business Association (completed)
- Santa Cruz Board of Realtors (completed)
- Fresh Produce Association
- Sonoita Area location to be determined
New Websites: The following websites were developed to provide logistical, economic and commerce information for individuals and businesses that are considering relocating to various cities and towns in Santa Cruz County.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance: In 2004, SCC CED became certified as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. For the past two years, the organization has completed over 350 income tax returns with approximately $300,000 from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) returned to local taxpayers. SCC WC was granted permission to establish two additional VITA sites in the county. These will become operational for the 2006 tax season.
Additionally, SCC CED has partnered with the Nogales Community Development Corporation (NCDC) on establishing Individual Development Accounts (IDA) for low to moderate income tax payers who used the VITA site to file their returns.
Youth Programs: Starting in the summer of 2004, SCC CED began linking its youth programs to vocational training curricula that result in national and/or state recognized professional certifications. All curricula are tied to the Arizona Department of Education Standards. The youth academies are designed to provide exposure in vocational training, leadership development, work readiness skills, and high school credit. At successful completion, the youths receive a fixed stipend. Over 140 youths (including over 40 youths with disabilities) have successfully completed the youth workforce academy in the last two years.
The Santa Cruz Tourism Council was formed in 2003 to promote tourism through development of regional marketing tools and support of tourism-related industries in the Santa Cruz Valley of Arizona. We represent Santa Cruz County as a member of the Southern Arizona Partnership, which joins Pima, Cochise, and Graham Counties in a united marketing effort through the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). Currently, we have approximately 120 members throughout the county and enjoy working partnerships with:
- The Arizona Office of Tourism
- Arizona Tourism Alliance
- The Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Southern Arizona Partnership
- Patagonia Area Business Association
- The Greater Phoenix Visitor and Convention Bureau
- Pimeria Alta Historical Society
- Arizona Watchable Wildlife Tourism Association
- Nogales-Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce
Since our founding, we have received the following grants:
- USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant: “Virtual Tour Grant” for $98,564 (2002)
- Arizona Office of Tourism TEAM Program grant for $10,405 (2003-2004)
- USDA Rural Development Grant: “As The Birds Fly South Grant” for $99,200 (2004)
- Arizona Office of Tourism TEAM Program grant for $30,000 (2004-2005)
- Arizona Office of Tourism grant for $70,000 awarded by Governor Janet Napolitano for the Council’s participation in the FY 2005-2006 TEAM Program (2005-2006)
In 2003, we produced the first countywide brochure and statewide ad campaign entitled Make History in the Santa Cruz Valley, as a component of a strategic marketing plan that targets the culture and heritage market niche. For the first time ever, the brochure linked each countywide visitor center in a map, which appeared in the brochure.
After receiving the 2004 USDA Rural Development Grant, we sponsored the launch of the “As the Birds Fly South” program, which guides travelers to the Santa Cruz Valley’s many historical, cultural and natural treasures. A series of ten original fine art bird sculptures were created and placed throughout the Valley in key destinations adjacent to visitor information in five Santa Cruz County communities.
In January 2006, we launched a major national media tour to promote the “As the Birds Fly South” marketing campaign to writers. The media tour invites journalists to visit during the following five birding seasons:
- Sunday & Monday, November 20, 21 (Fall)
- Monday & Tuesday, January 23 & 24 (Winter)
- Monday & Tuesday, March 20 & 21 (Spring)
- Friday & Saturday, May 5 & 6 (Early Summer during Fiesta Santa Cruz and the Unveiling of the new Big Bird sculptures)
- Monday & Tuesday, August 21 & 22 (Monsoons)
Today, the Tubac visitor center is recognized as one of the most visited centers in the Santa Cruz Valley, encompassing the communities of Tucson and Green Valley.