Community Profile | City of Yuma

Western Arizona Economic Development District

City of Yuma


Yuma was named after the Yuman Native Americans and founded as a river port. The port supplied outposts for the military and supported commerce just below the confluence of the Colorado and Gila Rivers. Since prehistoric times, Yuma has been the safest site for crossing the Colorado River. Fort Yuma was built during the 1849 California Gold Rush to bring peace to the area and ensure a safe route into California. Established in 1854 as Colorado City, the town became Arizona City and then reincorporated as Yuma in 1914.

Yuma is the county seat of Yuma County and remains a crucial crossroads for air, highway, and rail transportation. Enhancing the community's logistics heritage and bi-cultural reputation is the proximity to its three neighboring states: California, Baja California, and Sonora, Mexico. This unique geographical intersection prompted the elected leadership to establish 4FrontED, an economic development alliance that includes Yuma, San Luis, Somerton, and Wellton, Arizona, as well as San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico, to help facilitate and coordinate cross-border commerce.

Principal Economic Activities

A $3.2 billion annual agribusiness industry forms the foundation of Yuma County. Yuma's agribusiness sector is responsible for supplying the United States with 80 percent of its winter, leafy vegetables. A variety of industrial, processing, and logistic operations take advantage of Yuma's strategic location, increasing Yuma's economic diversity. Located 23 miles southwest is the Mexican free port of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico. This freeport lures industries interested in offshore manufacturing or twin-plant operations (or maquiladoras.)

Yuma is home to two of the largest military installations in the United States. The U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground generates an annual economic impact of over $430 million. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma is the country's foremost Marine Air Base with an enlisted population of more than 7,500 pilots, aviation technicians, and aeronautical mechanics. During the winter months, more than 100,000 winter visitors flock to the community to enjoy sun-drenched warmth.

The city’s location between two major population areas running through U.S.95, Yuma to the north and San Luis, Arizona, and San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico, to the south, makes Somerton an ideal location for special events and entertainment venues.

Scenic Attractions

yuma state territorial prison guard tower

Today, Yuma is a vibrant multicultural community that celebrates its rich heritage surrounded by wide-open spaces and pristine desert scenery - all with a river running through it. The Yuma State Territorial Prison, with cells carved from rock, once housed dangerous outlaws and is now a popular tourist attraction. Another popular site is the historic Quartermaster Depot that helped settle the West.

Other attractions in the area include Fort Yuma, built-in 1851, the 16th century St. Thomas Mission, the Quechan Indian Museum, Laguna, Imperial Dam, Morelos Dam, and the nearby California sand dunes. The port-of-entry communities of San Luis and Algodones, Mexico, are entertainment centers for medical tourism, nightspots, and shopping. Lakes along the Colorado River offer fishing, water skiing, and swimming opportunities. The Yuma Crossing State Park features living history on the Colorado River before 1900.

Community Facilities

The City of Yuma offers a broad range of community facilities, including six museums, eight community centers, ten public and private art galleries, 32 parks, bowling alleys, community swimming pools, biking/hiking trails, multiple lighted tennis courts, and a soccer stadium that has been home to the United Premier Soccer League's Frontera United since 2015. The stadium complex is near to the conference center.

Local Resources

City of Yuma

Jeff Burt,
Economic Development Administrator
One City Plaza
Yuma, AZ 85366
Phone: 928-373-5017
Email: Jeff Burt
Website: City of Yuma

Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation

Julie Engel, President & CEO
899 E. Plaza Circle, Ste. 2
Yuma, AZ 85366
Phone: 928-782-7774
Email: Julie Engel
Website: Greater Yuma Economic Development Corporation

Yuma County Chamber of Commerce

Kimberly Kahl,
Executive Director
180 W. 1st St., Suite A
Yuma, AZ 85364
Phone: 928-782-2567
Email: Yuma County Chamber of Commerce
Website: Yuma County Chamber

Local First Arizona

Kimber Lanning,
Chief Executive Officer
407 E. Roosevelt St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Phone: 602-956-0909
Email: Local First Arizona
Website: Local First Arizona

Arizona Commerce Authority

100 N. 7th Ave., Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: 602-845-1200
Email: Arizona Commerce Authority Information
Website: Arizona Commerce Authority Home Page

Last Updated by University of Arizona - Yuma (CAST): 04/21/2021

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