City economic development director moving to Oregon

Kingman 2005 president and economic developer Bill Hoke will be reporting to a new post in Medford, Ore., on June 16.

After nearly four years bringing business to the Kingman Airfield Industrial Park, Hoke will complete his work here June 9.

"Bill has done a good job and we will miss him," said Dave French, chairman of the board for the Airport Authority and the Industrial Park.

"Members of the volunteer committee will have to pick up the slack until we can fill the position."

French used the Guardian Fiberglass operation as an example of the long-term nature of industrial recruitment.

"Bill is responsible for that business from the beginning.

It took two years to get them to say 'yes' and locate in Kingman.

It has taken nearly two years to complete the building and begin operation.

So, the company has been Bill Hoke's project from beginning to end in his four years on the job."

Hoke said the Guardian Fiberglass plant is "the largest box in Mohave County at over 600,000 square feet." It will employ about 180 when in full operation later in the summer.

Since he became economic developer for Kingman in 1996, Hoke has seen employment grow to 1,800 at the park and wage levels increase steadily.

The wage survey the past two years show average increases of 14 percent each year.

Hoke said the Kingman work force is better educated than most people think.

By employment category, executive and management jobs are 17 percent of the work force; professionals and technicians are 18 percent; service employees are 18 percent and assemblers and fabricators, 16 percent.

The education level shows 93 percent of the work force with a high school diploma or better.

College graduates number 19 percent of the work force with a third of those with advanced degrees.

"The survey shows more people available for work than we have thought, the work force is better educated and we have a fair number of retirees," Hoke said.

He is proud of the clean industry recruited to the area without concessions to the companies relocating to Kingman.

The streets, water, sewer and railroad sidings have been paid from sales of sites to incoming business without cost to the city.

Climate, location and land prices will encourage more business to choose Kingman Hoke said.

Distribution remains a major source of future clients.

With land at about $3 per square foot in Phoenix or Las Vegas and 65 cents a square foot in Kingman, companies will come here, he said.

The airport with long runways, plenty of space and good flying weather is an asset not well used, Hoke said, adding that serious thought about airport utilization could add air transportation to the rail and highway corridors now a major selling point for Kingman.

The airport has more room for companies that repair and upgrade aircraft and add value to aircraft, he said.

"The city and the economic developer who follows me should be patient and let potential business come to us," he advised.

"We do not have to give things away to attract companies to Kingman."

Besides more distribution, Hoke said he sees more large distribution plants of over 500,000 square feet, smaller software companies and some optic companies in the future mix.

As companies learn that Northern Arizona University has a branch in Kingman, the high tech industry has more interest, he said.

Hoke said he hopes the park will continue to hold the wide diversity of companies now at the industrial park.

French said that Hoke has helped the industries at the park grow and increase employment.

He cited the retention and growth of companies as a major accomplishment.

"The growth and retention has added small pieces that equal the large Guardian Fiberglass plant," French said.

Kingman City manager Lou Sorensen said Hoke will be difficult to replace.

"He has done a great job for Kingman, quietly.

The city has funded the work and we will have a difficult time filling his shoes to continue the good work," he said.

Hoke and his wife, city building permits technician Judy Hoke, have been in Kingman since 1986 and are looking forward to the new challenges in Oregon.

Hoke has a degree in wood technology and likes the smell of timber processing he found in Medford.

"It is a good opportunity professionally and a chance to build my own program," Hoke said.