KINGMAN - Recruit a private college. Turn Bull Mountain into a county or state park with a hiking trail to the old mine. Lay out a welcome mat for retirees. Offer incentives to attract manufacturing to the airport industrial park.
These are just a few of the ideas submitted by readers of the Daily Miner to promote economic development in Kingman and pick up the slack from the depressed mining and agriculture industries that drove the region's economy for 150 years.
The town has a ton of potential, most everyone agrees. We've got pleasant year-round weather, clear skies, light traffic and cheap land. We're close to Las Vegas, Phoenix and Southern California.
It's up to the citizens and civic leaders to determine Kingman's future economic path.
Here's what some readers had to say:
Sandra Wetmore: Clean manufacturing and a better impression
My suggestion is that we need more exposure. Kingman has so much to offer. If you build it, they will come. Skilled workers will come here if there are jobs available. Manufacturing is what is needed to improve the growth. In most cases you do not need a college education to build something. You need a company that is willing to train its workforce such as American Woodmark.
We need someone to really go after clean manufacturing businesses in the high tax rate states like California. Offer incentives to these businesses. Help relocate the workforce if needed.
Like I tell my clients, make it shine if you want to make a good impression. Fix the damaged roads. Make improvements to the airport terminal. Get an airline to continue service to Phoenix and possibly Las Vegas. This needs to be a priority.
Form a committee of local people who really want to see the (Kingman Airport) industrial park grow and succeed. Put a real estate link on the website. Work with realtors who have the listings to promote what is available for sale or lease. Contact property owners that may want to sell.
Ruth Simpson: Solar!
We are in a central location for the Southwest and UniSource (Energy Services) is cooperating for its use. Solar panel production, training at Mohave Community College and getting the word out on the savings.
Mike Wagner: Embrace change
We the citizens and our elected leaders must first embrace change and want to improve our surroundings to make them attractive for ourselves and visitors.
Here's a plan:
1. Hire an economic development director who spends every day on the road telling the Kingman story and attracting businesses to the area.
2. Create more Route 66 attractions and events and rehab what we already have.
3. Create a real downtown dining and shopping area.
4. Market the benefits of Kingman through use of banners on Stockton Hill Road where I-40 dumps thousands of visitors daily who don't even know where they are or what we have to offer.
Steve Tague: Create our own tourist attraction
My suggestion is that the Kingman community create our own tourist attraction and develop Bull Mountain as a "must-do" attraction for tourists when visiting Kingman for Route 66 attractions, the restaurants, a stopping point along the way to the Grand Canyon, Phoenix, California or Las Vegas.
At the base of Bull Mountain, a paved road would provide access and a paved parking lot. Also, a park atmosphere would be established near the parking lot and trailhead.
This could be a multi-government funded project including federal grants and state grants, or make it a state park or Mohave County or Kingman city park.
I believe this would be a very attractive addition to the Kingman area and would draw more tourism to our community and would also serve as a local attraction for our residents.
Betty Stimson: Manufacturing, beatifying and festivals
Going back, jobs were gotten through on-the-job training, which is unheard of in today's world. But in two weeks our "uneducated workforce" can be trained to do manufacturing. Anything and everything from large remove and repair and replace plane parts, painting planes, anything about planes out at the airport. Smaller, hand things can be done in town at any warehouse-type facility. Book binding, Mattel toys. Any manufacturing will not only give jobs to the masses, but is fun work and you build all your other people skills through those jobs.
Beautifying. There's a difference of "beautify" and "make it a drawing place for tourists." First, we've got to stop this obsession with our only features and possible survival is through the tourist trade. It's not. We have nothing to draw if we keep trying to be like ... you fill in the city. People traveling to Arizona are coming to small town in the West cities (and) want unique, old and different. They see skyscrapers, sidewalks and asphalt at home. We need to keep the city as people think they see it in their minds. The old city, the old museum, cowboys, trains and cattle drives. Rodeos and mutton bustin'.
Our festival for Route 66 is great. Keep that up. But let's wean away from Andy Devine. Name 66 back to Route 66. That's why they come. They're familiar with the old stories of "Get Your Kicks." But there isn't anyone over 50 who knows who the heck that old fat guy Andy is. Drop it. His day is over. Get modern, not beautified.
Larry Collins: Lure big companies with smart bait
With a lot of companies looking to relocate, we should send one of our supervisors on a field trip to see if they can't get companies to move. We have good roads in and out of Kingman, plus a great airport and railroad, cheap land, not to mention cheap taxes. We're the hub between L.A., Phoenix and Las Vegas.
David Gaither: Industrial growth and a casino resort
I think Kingman city fathers are missing a huge opportunity by not making industrial growth a minor effort and instead promoting Kingman as a retiree destination. Kingman already has a good start in that direction.
As a second suggestion, to accommodate the local need for leisure entertainment and to provide attraction to the traveling public, sell the fairgrounds to a Native American nation for the purpose of building and operating a casino and resort. Many new jobs would be created right there.
I firmly believe Kingman officials are throwing dust into the wind trying to build up the industrial segment of Kingman. Put the emphasis on promoting Kingman as a retirement destination and put a minor effort into bringing industry here.
Lawrence Mozis: First, clean up Kingman, then offer incentives
Encourage both residential and business owners to show some pride in their property. Next time you go to a restaurant, look at the entry door.
Second, offer some kind of incentive for business to come here. Offer a clean, inviting city and the rest will come.
Rick Sherwood: Industrial Expansion, remove old-people thinking
What this area really needs is industrial expansion. Once this has started, then service industry will follow. But we need to remove old-people thinking, which seems to dominate this area.
George Francuski: Deliberate leadership and improve appearance
Having served on the city's economic development commission, I understand how difficult economic development is. Our city government needs to take a leadership role. Our city must develop an economic development department with an ED director. The only formal economic development activity by the city is a floundering commission and Kingman Airport Authority's ineffective economic development director. Putting in place the infrastructure for any productive ED program is sorely needed.
One aspect of drawing new businesses and supporting our existing businesses is improving the appearance of Kingman. Freshly painted storefronts downtown, litter-free fields, smart desert-friendly landscaping throughout our town, curbs and well-maintained streets at the Airport Industrial Park. What about working with the railroad to develop a desert wildflower stretch on the long stretch of vacant land along the railroad tracks?
Lee Jensen: One word: Politics
Take (Jim) Rhodes. Yes, he is pulling out a lot of water, but instead of working with him, they want to shut him down. What good is that?
Follow the money the Board of Supervisors spends. It goes to the same group of people.
Notice the campaign themes. They all say, "Jobs." After elected, not mentioned again. Why? Nothing (is) going to change with low voter turnouts and only the same (voters) show up at the polls. Again, it's politics pure and simple.
Roy Comeforo: A driving range, gold prospecting and airport hub
Small: a driving range. Combo with mini golf and batting cages.
Medium: advertise Kingman as a destination for gold prospecting.
Large: our biggest in-place commercial resource is the Kingman Airport. Kingman is a hub. Don't know why this can't get started. Some professional help might be needed. Calling Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, The Profit.
Bob Simmons: recruit a private college or university
I think we should try to recruit a private college or university from the East to open a western campus in Kingman. Economically, the benefits are huge. You would have students from around the country and the world coming that would spend $30,000 a year each and most of that money stays in the community. There are social and educational benefits also.
There is one thing that would be a game-changer and that is the different perception the outside world would have of Kingman. We are a small community in a great location, with access by all the different means of transportation, a moderate climate and a state of the art medical community. Moreover, there seems to be a growing market in the West for private education. Grand Canyon University has grown to about 15,000 students. Think out of the box.
Dwayne Patterson: Build Route 66 as international attraction
I think Route 66 is a huge tourist attraction with a huge amount of Europeans and Asians coming to see this every year. We have the longest existing stretch of 66 and need to build off of that.
I think we need to network better with the Hualapai Tribe to have more here in Kingman. I have been trying to get them to open up a center here in Kingman, where they can have a gift shop, education center and mini-museum. I think it would be a huge hit and they could direct traffic to Grand Canyon West from here. We have a ton of historical things here, we just need better knowledge and direction to them.
Cathryn Wischmann: Tear down or clean up, and an ice rink
How in the world are we going to grow and prosper when we pick up the paper and read about all the drug-related crime that goes on in Kingman or we take a drive and see yards filled with toilets and bags of household trash?
Folks come here to look at property and they are in awe with the unsightly homes and yards. A lot of them need to be torn down or at least clean this town up. If we had a clean town then we could think about offering some industries the incentive to relocate here. Dori Giehrl: Reconstruct (Camp) Beale Springs with mannequins for realism and two modern touches - air conditioning and restrooms. These could be modern inside authentic looking outhouses. Might be useful as a movie set. Concessions could be worked into the design of the buildings.
Build an ice skating rink for hockey, figure and pleasure skating. Good place to cool down on hot summer days. Just some thoughts. They both have potential for our young people as well as their elders and tourism.
Hugh and Leona Young: Use what we have, and fix 'truly dreadful' downtown
From our perspective, Kingman needs to put the horse before the cart. If Kingman is to become what it can potentially be, it will have to build it so it can attract a "more educated worker."
There has to be something for the populace besides weather, air and views. Kingman does not need to compete in the global market place, but it certainly needs to improve on what it can offer.
Utilize some of the large vacant buildings out at the airport and create industry-sponsored:
Trade schools with state-of-the-art equipment that would complement classes at MCC.
Research facility for sustainable desert living, including a design center to create homes out of freight containers, which are a far more rugged solution to low-cost housing than mobile homes in a desert climate.
Call center facility.
Sound stage for filmmakers.
Use some open space and build a superior, world-class motocross training and competition facility instead of useless, water-wasting dust farming.
Downtown Kingman has so much potential, but is truly dreadful. Downtown is full of history and could be a wonderful, creative community for sculptors, artists, photographers, woodworkers, writers and musicians who could also mentor those with similar creative aspirations. Closing off Beale Street to through traffic and making it foot traffic only would be wonderful. A farmer's market downtown maybe once or twice a month would be fantastic. The dilapidated buildings need to be dealt with, not just left alone because the owners are too lazy or unwilling to repair or sell. Perhaps local art students could create murals of old Kingman to cover up the mess.
John Pestrosius: 'This town is big enough'
My family and I arrived here in Kingman in 1992. Back then Stockton (Hill) was a two-lane road that you didn't have wait five minutes before you crossed it. That was before Wal-Mart. The library was brand new and Centennial Park was a great place to hang out with the kids. But then Kingman started to grow. The box stores came in. I liked it when it wasn't so busy. I was raised in Chicago, and the truth is I got tired of the howl of the highways and city streets. I think this town is big enough. I think we have enough water now, and people still might wave to you here and there.