Photo by JC Amberlyn.
KINGMAN – A grass roots effort to organize a Kingman town hall is underway.
About 20 people from various sectors of the community met Wednesday to discuss hiring the Arizona Town Hall, a nonprofit organization that facilitates community discussion, to jump start economic development efforts in Kingman.
Specifically, the Arizona Town Hall would organize a discussion about what direction the community would like to take toward economic development.
The city council voted at its March 21 meeting whether to hire Arizona Town Hall to facilitate a town hall meeting. The motion failed by a 3-3 vote.
The community group, which has not yet chosen a name, raised $18,100 in donations in two hours to hire the Arizona Town Hall’s services, said Dan Del Monaco, manager of Mohave State Bank, at Wednesday’s meeting.
The Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce has committed $2,500 toward that effort, said Gregg Martin, chamber president and CEO.
Mayor Monica Gates said Thursday the donations are “more than enough” to cover the cost of the services.
Members of the business and other sectors of the community attended Wednesday’s meeting.
At the meeting, several people said they wanted to provide input into the direction economic development in Kingman was headed.
In an interview with the Daily Miner Thursday, Del Monaco said after council failed to approve the hiring of Arizona Town Hall’s services at the council meeting, the group decided to raise donations to pay for it themselves.
He said they decided to make “it a mission” to push forward with the town hall meeting.
“I think a plan needs to be in place before hiring an economic development director,” he said, adding to “make sure what the community wants is in place” first.
He said someone from the group will make a presentation about their efforts at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“We think it’s a critical aspect that the city participate” in this effort and that it be a “collaboration” between the community and the city council, he said.
Local attorney Gary Grynkewich was also at Wednesday’s meeting.
In an interview Thursday, Grynkewich said he is hoping the city council will put the matter on Tuesday’s agenda and offer to pay half of the cost of hiring Arizona Town Hall. If the city does not make the offer, the group plans to go forward with the town hall and pay for the cost itself.
“What we’re trying to do is get everyone on the same page,” he said.
He said some people think the community group wants to tell a city economic development director – when and if hired – what to do and have the city pay for the staff position. Grynkewich said this is not true.
He said economic development in Kingman has stagnated and this group’s efforts are a way to move forward.
City Councilman Travis Lingenfelter said in an interview with the Daily Miner that Lake Havasu City hired an economic development firm to “work with the city and community to come up with an economic development strategic plan” before it held a town hall meeting. He voiced this concern at Wednesday’s meeting.
He said the first thing the firm would do is to hold public meetings to gather input, Lingenfelter said.
Hiring an economic development firm after the town hall to create a strategic plan would not be as effective, he said.
It would be better to have the firm “on board before the meeting” for continuity of process, he said.
Otherwise the firm would have to go back and review the town hall comments after the fact.
Del Monaco said the group prefers the donations be smaller and from a large group of businesses than from a few, which would expand the “buy-in” to the idea.
He said the Kingman Airport Authority has pledged up to $2,500 and Mohave State Bank up to $5,000.
The money the group has raised is in verbal commitments.
In an interview earlier this week, Lingenfelter said he would like to see an in-house city department of economic development and tourism. The department could work together with an advisory committee from the city composed of members from the economic development marketing and the tourism development commissions.
In an email Tuesday, he said a study by the International Economic Development Council found that “nationally a majority of Economic Development Directors work for a public sector organization, while only 6 percent work for a private/public organization – as envisioned by a small group.”
He said he wants an in-house city economic development department to ensure the “transparency of the use of public money.”
In an interview earlier this week, Mayor Gates said the community group’s efforts do not preclude the city hiring an in-house economic development director.
Grynkewich said the town hall would be “a first step.”