CEDS | Summary Background

Western Arizona Economic Development District

1.0 Summary Background

Who are we? What do we do?

1.1 Executive Summary

There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the future of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and economic impacts on our Region. During the period February 2020 to April 2021, the State of Arizona lost an estimated 84,300 jobs. That is a 2.8% decrease in all non-farm employment. In April 2021, Arizona is still struggling to regain total jobs lost that started to decline rapidly after February 2020. Between February and April 2020, most Arizona jobs gained since the Great Recession (December 2007 - June 2009) were lost.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the question at this point is when government and self-imposed social distancing will ease to pre-pandemic levels—as impacts of COVID-19 pandemic work through our economy, tracking labor market performance and especially the travel and tourism sector is critical. Leading indicators (such as coronavirus vaccinations, unemployment claims, and hotel occupancy rates) help measure an emerging recovery as COVID-19 is controlled.

Epidemiological uncertainties create economic uncertainties. We are on track for a significant economic downturn in late 2021; one question is how wrong and for how long. The Accommodation and Food Services sector have contributed the most to job loss in our Region, and that is also a national trend.

As more complex data is released in the coming months, we will know more about economic impacts and our prospects for recovery. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau is just now (April 2021) releasing new data about pandemic-related economic impacts and pandemic recovery data every week with new census data and analysis releases.

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1.2 CEDS Strategy Committee Members 2020-2021(alphabetical):

Who is part of the CEDS constituency?
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1.3 Geographical Details

District Map

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This Region includes three counties in Arizona, including La Paz, Mohave, and Yuma.

Ten cities and towns are members, including Bullhead City, Colorado City, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Parker, Quartzsite, San Luis, Somerton, Wellton, and Yuma.

Six reservations are wholly or partly in our Region: Cocopah Indian Tribes, Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT),, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Hualapai Indian Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, and Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe. The Colorado River Indian Tribes include four distinct tribes - Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi, and Navajo.

Our Region stretches from Mexico on the South to Nevada and Utah on the North and is bounded by California and Nevada on the West.

Our Region covers 23,519 square miles. Our Region is split between the U.S. 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts. Most of our western border is demarcated by the Colorado River. Most Region communities are on or near the Colorado River.

All three Counties and all ten Cities and Towns have chosen to participate in and support our Region formally.

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1.4 Geography

The geography and climate of the Region range from low elevations, flat plains, small mountains, and arid environments in Southwestern Yuma County to higher mountains receiving moderate amounts of rain in northeastern Mohave County. Elevations range from barely above sea level to more than 5,000 feet.

Most areas along the Colorado River, as most of our Region, is arid and adequately classified as desert. Rainfall varies from little more than two inches per year in Yuma to about 16 inches per year in parts of Mohave County. Our climate is sweltering throughout most of the Region, with Yuma and Lake Havasu having recorded high temperatures of 127 and 128, respectively. Temperatures moderate some in northeastern Mohave County, with light winter snows in Kingman and a somewhat colder climate in the Colorado City area, at a higher elevation.

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1.5 Natural Resources

colorado river la paz county arizona

Primary natural resources include climate, isolation, some mineral deposits, and the Colorado River. Primary artificial resources include dams on the Colorado River, their related irrigation systems, and East/West transportation corridors (i.e., Interstate 8 and Interstate 10). Mineral deposits in our Region include gold, silver, copper, feldspar, and molybdenum, all of which have been found in Mohave County.

Mining and mineral processing are not currently major economic activities within our Region but are prominent in Mohave County. Some gold deposits are also located in La Paz County. For mining and mineral processing to become essential contributors to the local economies would probably require discovering significant new mineral deposits and huge outside private investments.

Dams and diversions on the Colorado River include Hoover, Davis, Parker, Palo Verde, Laguna, and Imperial. Barriers create power generation, irrigation, and recreation potential, which are essential resources for our Region’s communities.

The combination of Colorado River reservoirs, warm and dry climate, and convenient east/west highways have developed a strong tourist industry directed towards water-related recreation in our Region. This industry is essential to communities, including Parker, Lake Havasu City, and Bullhead City.

Water-related relaxation is a central portion of our tourist trade; it creates opportunities for year-round tourism, some recreation-oriented tourism, ‘snowbirds,’ and RVers in the winter, and significant water-related recreation in the summer. Tourists focused on water sports tend to be more affluent than the snowbird/RV group and create more lucrative upscale tourist industry options.

Rivers and dams also enable the Region’s agriculture. Our arid climate makes farming impossible without irrigation. Of our Region’s more than 325,000 acres of cropland, more than 93% is irrigated.

Dams and related irrigation systems make agricultural industries in Yuma and La Paz Counties viable. A unique advantage of our Region of farming activities is its reversed growing season. Our primary growing season is winter when our climate moderates to temperatures typical of summer in other areas. Yuma County thus produces much of our country’s winter vegetables, especially iceberg lettuce.

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1.6 Environmental Impacts

This map link shows locations and types of environmental hazards identified by the EPA in our Region and the State of Arizona. Environmental concerns can be viewed as falling into two categories, Colorado River and Other. Environmental concerns cluster around larger communities and are typical of urban issues such as air quality and ground pollution from past uses when environmental regulations were less strict. The level of the problems is moderate, and no significant concerns that would restrict development are currently at issue.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (MCAS Yuma) occupies approximately 3,000 acres within the City and County of Yuma, Arizona. The City of Yuma, the nearest municipality, is located about one mile northwest of the Station. Both the City and the Station obtain their drinking water from the Colorado River through an irrigation canal.

The City of Yuma does not use groundwater for drinking water purposes. The nearest domestic underground well is approximately 0.8 miles downgradient from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

MCAS Yuma's mission is to provide services and materials support operations to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and its subordinate units. In 1990, MCAS Yuma was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List after chlorinated solvents were detected in a groundwater monitoring well on the Station.

Starting in the mid-1940s, waste fuels and solvents from refueling and servicing of airplanes were reportedly disposed of directly onto the ground or into unlined pits at the Station site. Besides, combustible materials such as fuel oil and organic solvents were deposited on the ground or burned during fire training exercises. Approximately 6,600 people live on-site. During maintenance work on the Colorado River irrigation canal for two weeks each year, drinking water was supplemented using an on-station well. However, this practice was stopped in August 1995.

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