Kingman makes quarterfinals in America's Best Communities

Yvonne Woytovich

Yvonne Woytovich

KINGMAN - Rural communities will be the next wave in the new economy and Kingman is hoping to ride that wave, Chamber of Commerce President Yvonne Woytovich said.

The city was selected Wednesday as one of 50 quarterfinalists in a $10 million competition to stimulate economic revitalization in small towns across the country.

The Chamber submitted an application in March for America's Best Communities, a nationwide initiative sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH, CoBank and The Weather Channel.

"The focus is obviously economic development," Woytovich said. "We went back and looked at former studies. We submitted an application and it was accepted."

Each quarterfinalist is awarded $50,000 to further develop and implement strategies that will accelerate local economies and improve quality of life.

Quarterfinalists were selected by an independent group of judges from a pool of about 135 community applicants with a population under 40,000. They have six months to finalize revitalization plans and compete for grand prizes totaling $6 million.

In the next few months, the communities will partner with a major corporation that will provide guidance and support through the next stage of competition. The field will then be whittled to 15 candidates.

Leaders from those communities will be sent to an economic development summit to refine their plan, Woytovich said.

On the last day of the summit, they'll give a 15-minute presentation. Eight communities will be selected to receive $100,000 to implement their plan. They'll then report back on the results and three winners will receive $1 million, $2 million and $3 million.

"We can use those funds as we feel best for investment in the community," Woytovich said. "They're going to track our community, like they track Miss America when she's wearing the crown. We're looking at how to make Kingman a destination, not just pass through."

The Chamber posted a video on its website with highlights about Kingman such as the marriage of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.

"We have pictures of the Route 66 Festival and historic parts of town," the Chamber president said. "We also capitalize on our heritage of the railroad. That's where we came up with the idea of axle benches for Locomotive Park."

America's Best Communities brought together 50 companies that will serve as a strategic mentor, while also contributing $15,000 of the $50,000 in prize money. These corporate partners will forge relationships with local leaders and focus on implementation of the community's plans.

"As the largest telecommunications company focused on rural America, we recognized the need for, and economic impact of, new, strategic investments in the revitalization of small towns and communities across rural America," Maggie Wilderotter, executive chairman of Frontier, said in a statement.