Industrial park close to Phase I finish

KINGMAN -- The area's magnet for manufacturing, the Airport Industrial Park, moved one step closer to completion of its first phase Monday when City Council approved land deals for three new tenants.

A little more than 100 acres of the original 1,000 remain available for development, reported airport economic director Bob Riley, who serves as liaison between the airport authority and prospective tenants.

"This is definitely in line with our original goals," he said. "These are three very diverse operations and that is what we were looking for when we first started to diversify the economy."

The 1982 closing of the Duval Copper Mine, which employed a significant portion of the area's population, forced city planners to re-evaluate the direction of the local economy. The result was the redevelopment of the Army Airfield Gunnery Base, a project 25 years in the making that has evolved into the cornerstone of Kingman's economy.

It now provides one out of every 12 Kingman jobs and one out of every three manufacturing jobs in all of Mohave County. The two basic criteria for selecting businesses interested in creating an operation in the Airport Industrial Park are the intention to build a structure and employ local residents, Riley said.

"By doing it that way, we're ensuring the community will have continued employment generation."

The park's newest tenants, Becknell Development LLC, Combs-Stockbridge Properties LLC and Johnson Manley Lumber Company, will occupy a combined 49.53 acres at a combined initial investment of $1,443,000.

The largest of the three, Tucson-based Johnson Manley Lumber Company, purchased 37.74 acres at a cost of $1,081,500. Its general manager, Steve Lundsford, said he hopes to begin construction as soon as possible.

"I hope it doesn't take over a year," he said, adding, "With the way construction is, it may take longer than that."

Plans call for the construction of a 4,000-square-foot facility surrounded by many smaller structures for the purpose of wholesale lumber, framing and truss manufacturing.

As per the contract with the Airport Authority, initial employment at the conclusion of construction must be at least 50 people. Lundsford said that number could swell to 150 after five years. The final employment goal is 400 people, according to a memorandum from Riley to City Council.

Johnson Manley Lumber Company's framing and lumberyard operations currently employ around 85 Kingman-area residents.

From its new location, Johnson Manley Lumber Company will be supplying Las Vegas, Phoenix and the tri-state area, Lundsford said.

The other two tenants, Combs-Stockbridge Properties LLC, a contractor; and Becknell Development LLC, a light manufacturer of tradeshow booths, will sit on 2.63 acres and 9.16 acres, respectively. Both said they hope to finish construction within one year.

With more than 70 companies and 3.1 million square feet of improved building space planted in the park, Riley is looking to the future.

Plans are being drawn and work is commencing on the approximately 1,000-acre tract known as Phase II. While the first phase took roughly 25 years to complete, the second should take around 10, Riley said.

"It's completely different in that we're not going to be using an infrastructure that currently exists," he explained. "We're going to have a pretty good handle on what the absorption is once it's laid out. It's a different situation."

Riley reported that around 60 companies are now eyeing the Airport Industrial Park.