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home : latest news : latest news September 14, 2014

6/14/2014 2:48:00 PM
How can Camp Verde gets its economy into higher gear?
Camp Verde’s recovery from the Great Recession has been a little slower than its neighbors’ for a number of reasons, and solutions are varied. VVN/Raquel Hendrickson
Camp Verde’s recovery from the Great Recession has been a little slower than its neighbors’ for a number of reasons, and solutions are varied. VVN/Raquel Hendrickson

Bill Helm
Staff Reporter

CAMP VERDE - Two men stand on a street corner.

One is walking to work.

The other is not walking to work ... because he has no job.

Is Camp Verde's economy good for either?

"There's a lack of jobs in Camp Verde. A lack of opportunity," says Tim Smith, owner of Dollar Stop, one of Camp Verde's newest businesses. "You can't make money if there's no money to make."

As office manager at Camp Verde Eye Care, Linda Callahan says she would like to see the Town "wine and dine" larger companies to come to Camp Verde.

"We are in the center of the state," Callahan says. "More jobs would help the economy, would help promote tourism."

Unlike Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Jerome, the Town of Camp Verde was a "late bloomer" regarding infrastructure development, says Steve Ayers, the Town's Economic Development director.

"Camp Verde may have been the first settlement in the Verde Valley, but because it was a military outpost surrounded by farms, it didn't become a town, per se, until the early 20th century," Ayers says. "And even after it began to develop a commercial cluster in the downtown, it remained little more than a gathering place for local farmers and ranchers."

Eventually, Cottonwood became the place "where you went to get stuff," Ayers says.

"It is still where you go to get stuff, if you aren't going out of the valley to get stuff," Ayers says. "Jerome was fueled by a billion-dollar mine, and Clarkdale was an instant town built at the largess of its namesake, complete with infrastructure from one end to most of the other end."

Camp Verde, he adds, never took advantage of its location on Interstate 17

What does Camp Verde need to do to catch up to its Verde Valley neighbors?

"Catching up is not necessarily how I would phrase it," says Town Manager Russ Martin. "We want to bring in businesses that provide a well-rounded job and shopping opportunity for our residents that then provide the needed resources for governmental purposes/services. If that is in balance, and progress is being made, the sales taxes collected will take care of itself."

Martin gave four reasons why Camp Verde's growth potential is not being maximized:

• Retail opportunities for Camp Verde residents

• Jobs for Camp Verde residents

"Unemployment amongst our folks is high, and this results in less spending," he says.

• Not enough disposable income for Camp Verde residents

• A tighter pedestrian downtown

"We have two definite ends with great businesses on each end, with Town buildings in the middle, so little destination traffic to feed both ends. Fostering a connection during events helps, but between events it is difficult for a visitor to connect," Martin says.

To tax? Or not to tax?

In recent weeks, Town council discussed the possibility of implementing a 3-percent food tax as way of affording some of the Town's much-needed capital improvements. But most of the feedback from the general public has not favored such a tax.

"Time and again, the citizens of Camp Verde have demonstrated an unwillingness to invest in themselves," Ayers says. "We readily pay food taxes in neighboring communities without so much as a whimper. For every dollar Camp Verde residents spend in Camp Verde on groceries, we spend at least half again that much somewhere else. We willingly pay 3-percent tax to those communities, on top of the cost of gas to get there, while we steadfastly refuse to tax ourselves an equal amount ... not to mention the hundreds of folks from the surrounding communities who shop at Bashas'."

Ayers says that the revenue generated by a food sales tax would allow the Town to invest in its infrastructure.

To fix a problem, one must become the solution

B.J. Davis, chairman of the Town's Planning and Zoning Commission, named five factors he believes could positively affect Camp Verde's growth.

• More involved citizens [who are] willing to spend their time tackling our problems with other concerned citizens in a spirit of open-minded compromise.

• Citizens who have the courage to put their considered opinions out in public and discuss them in a respectful way with others that have differing viewpoints.

• Citizens who understand that success will rarely come in the adoption of their personal views but in reaching consensus on what is best for the future residents of Camp Verde.

• Citizens who can and do put aside their personal gain and make decisions based on what is right for Camp Verde and all of its citizens with a long-term, sustainable view.

• Ongoing actions by citizens with the above qualities who are unwilling to accept the status quo as good enough and will risk helping Camp Verde become great.


One thing Camp Verdeans can do to help the Town realize its growth potential, Ayers says, is to "believe in ourselves."

"Fortunately, Camp Verde's vocal naysayers are not a majority," Ayers says. "But that does not mean they don't have an influence on what others believe. What is going on today is not what was going on 10 years ago. We have changed. Believe it."

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42 and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: one year resident

Why us it a given that the new medical center will be an economic boost to Camp Verde? Why would the medical center hire people from Camp Verde even if they can manage to pass a drug test and that is a big IF? From what I have experienced with the local work force they do not recognize that being on time or even bothering to show up at all is a mark of a good employee! Not to mention that the people in town do not have the training or experience to work there and trying to get them to obtain the training will be a waste of time. From what I have seen the people in Camp Verde are very good at getting gov't assistance and welfare so why should they even try to find work or training to get a job!

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: "SABRINA CHASE"

I simply made the point that there are better amenities in Cottonwood and based on the fact that the populations are similar there has to be a reason. As for the town cutting departments 6% this is what a good management team does when costs that are not anticipated come up and/or revenues are down. If this was Camp Verde they would be looking for a way to spend $4,000,000 on a luxury library for the use of a small % of their citizens while at the same time the town and especially the down town, up town or what ever the council wants to call it, is dying for the lack of new businesses. There is a reason why the rest of the Verde Valley views Camp Verde as a slum and it damn sure is not due to the views!

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: back to phoenix

just moved here and Im already looking to go back to phoenix...I guess its folk just don't get it.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: @ Don Forrest

Sorry Don but you are wrong on several point as usual and only spewing forth the same old regurgitated stuff you always do.

The comments about this town not being willing to investing in itself is honestly, right or wrong a widely held belief by outsiders that has been fostered to a large degree, by the likes of you and your fellow negative nellies who always have nothing but nasty things to say about someone or something going on in this town.

I'm not interested in any reply you may attempt to craft, I already know how it will go from having read your posts for quite some time now. I hold anything you may have to say in little to no regard so don't bother to waste the energy.

I simply felt the need to let others know that we are not all like you and your ilk. That while we acknowledge that we have problems, we also hold to the idea of being able to create a positive future for our town and are willing to work for it. Rather than wallowing in negativity and posting our sour grapes in the local paper.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: @ Dennis XXX

You know DXXX keeping ones head buried in the sand goes in all directions. Including those who's only perspective is to express the negative on a continual basis about everything.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: Don Forest

The budget dropping is an indictment for this council, town manager and economic dev. dir. For Mr. Ayers to say that the citizen of Camp Verde won't invest in themselves is an example of being completely out of touch. These are the citizens who pay his check. What economic development do we have? Between Mr.Ayers and Mel Preston I think it adds up to zero. But we have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for their department. We want a return on investment Mr.Ayers. You want a tax on food. How many children do you have? How much more money do you make above the average citizen in this town? Shame on you. You of all people should realize we have invested in ourselves. We hired you.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: Common Sense

@ Eleanor Martin

Well Eleanor aside from the fact that the Town budget is no where remotely close to being ten(10) million dollars.

Aside from the fact that State law mandates that we have a Council, Manager and Mayor (but not an economic development director) under our municipal charter.

Aside from the fact that Town employees wage scale is pegged at 95% of a six (6) year old independent wage analysis, comparing Arizona Towns of comparable size, comparable job descriptions, and comparable legal responsibilities (more employees than you might imagine have very strict legal responsibilities and very severe Personal legal consequences if they do not carry them out faithfully).
Aside from the fact that from 2008 to 2012 the Town budget decreased.

Aside from all that you bring up some good......well you raise some valid......well come to think of it all I deduce from your comment is a strong whiff of sour grapes, and a hefty dose of baseless gossip.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: Dennis XXX

"At Dennis XXX or Negative Nellie" to you all that can't see what is not going on in this town....good luck! Keep you heads buried in the sand that always makes things seem better.

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
Article comment by: The Grass

You know, sometimes all of this talk about Cottonwood being ever so much better at doing things than Camp Verde reminds me of the old saying about the grass always looking greener on the other side of the fence.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: @ Concerned Citizen

In order to draw another grocery store into our area we as a town have to prove to the store chain that it makes sense for them to open up a store in this town. Part of what will make a difference in that decision will much do the locals shop locally. Even if another store came into this area there is no guarantee that their presence would drive down any prices.

The data situation is being worked on but once again it is a question of providing evidence to these companies of a good return on their investment.

The loss of ALCO was not locally driven, it was a corporate decision to close 16 of their poorest performers nation wide and the one in this town was one of those 16. So again a question of proving the local viability of doing business in this town to the companies. Unless you are saying that we should be financially subsidizing these businesses?

I can just see how that would go over...

Good go put in your application now. The town has two positions open at this time. Just remember the other things that Mr. Davis mentioned as well:

Citizens who understand that success will rarely come in the adoption of their personal views but in reaching consensus on what is best for the future residents of Camp Verde.

Citizens who can and do put aside their personal gain and make decisions based on what is right for Camp Verde and all of its citizens with a long-term, sustainable view.

Ongoing actions by citizens with the above qualities who are unwilling to accept the status quo as good enough and will risk helping Camp Verde become great.

You might see that things do not just happen by chance and start to understand just what an involved process it really is.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: At Dennis XXX

Dennis, as you and yours are supposedly packing up and moving on, why do you feel the need to speak on this? Just have to get every last drop of negativity out that you can before leaving?

You sit in your armchair coaching nothing but negativity 10 years ago it was different, 10 years ago (2004) we had quite a few NIMBYs who had it in their purview that things did not need to change in any way and development for the most part was not to be considered.

It is they who helped to set the dinner plate we are eating from today along with the economic crash which hit our town around 2008. Yet you want to blame any and all for any and all prior to you heading out the door.

So why not just save us all of your negativity and just get on with moving on.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Bill White

So let me see if I am tracking this correctly.

According to our Economic Development Director the lack of progress in Camp Verde is the fault of the taxpayers, and not the fault of his leadership?..................................................

Must be a democrat.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: eleanor martin

I couldnt help but notice that camp verde is quick to raise taxes whether its residents agree or not. Town budgets are rising yearly,and town officials cant spend those funds fast enough. What is the saying"The more you make...the more you spend" If this habit continues, then camp verde is destined to spin its wheels for a long time. Camp verde has not increased in population for a few years now and yearly our officials have increased the budget. If you look at the salaries and benefits of town employees,you will see a very generous income. Can someone educate me on why we need a town manager, council and a mayor,and economic development to run a town with a population under 11,000 residents. Does it really take over $10,000,000. to run this town. Our town officials are our royalty, Good job if you can get it.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: A Different Old Timer

Unlike Old Timer I always thought the Town employees worked pretty hard and did pretty good for less than average pay.

On this one however I got to go with Miss Irene. Mr. Ayer's comment, if accurately quoted, was pretty rude, condescending and elitist towards the people who pay his salary.

And I imagine as a Director it is a good one & better than what they pay the guys who clean the toilets and mow the grass. A manager type should have more sense than to say something like that, and you have to wonder about his judgment.

It was pretty much a slap in the face of the people who pay him.
I would say he owes all of us a great big apology.

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2014
Article comment by: Sabrina Chase

I wouldn't be holding up Cottonwood as an economic genius. I just read they had to cut all departments 6% or they would be a million dollars in the red. Camp Verde can handle its own troubles and not trade them in for Cottonwood's. If Camp Verde folks knew Cottonwood's issues with taxes, water, and wastewater and a council that seems to think they need a new building for every single thing, they might be satisfied with with the problems they got.

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