Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Copper Mining Center

From meeting with young agribusiness leaders of the future, I flew to Globe, AZ (population 7,486), a town up in the mountains an hour and a half east of Phoenix. It was very similar to Elko County, NV where I had been earlier in the week, in that it is largely a mining area (in this case copper) that is looking at how they diversify their economic base at a time when mining is booming.

Chris Martin is head of the South Gila County EDC. Gila is pronounced Heela, not Giila, like I mistakenly did. Unfortunately, I seem to make one mispronunciation in every talk that I do. It goes with the territory. I did check out how to pronounce Miami, AZ, a neighboring town in the county, learning that the older folks pronounce it Mi-am-a, whereas the young people pronounce it Mi-am-ee.

Martin has energized his board and has initiatives working on broadband in the rural towns, has helped to set up a tool lending library and is setting up industrial parks and working on cooperative tourism efforts.

One of the projects applauded at the 4th Annual Southern Gila County EDC Summit was how two local women, Sylvia Kerlock and Gloria Ruiz, put together a partnership with the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Power Systems (APS) within a week to build a $60,000 basketball court in Winkelman (population 443). Winkelman last had a basketball court in 1993. The picture on the right is the inauguration of that court earlier this year.

During the past three months we’ve seen copper prices fall from over $4/pound by half. Copper is probably one of the most cyclical commodities and the work of groups like Martin’s are so important in helping to build a stronger, more stable base for the future. They’ve already invited me to come back in two years to see how they are doing on their goals.

No comments: