All posts in "Cochise"

Willcox Chamber Reports Economic Impact To City Council

 

Via willcoxrangenews.com

The Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture gave its report to City Council recently on its activities for the last few months in 2017.

Chamber Executive Director Alan Baker talked about the period from June through October 2017.

A sheet of financial information Baker distributed indicated that the chamber received $57,516 in bed tax from the city, out of the total $234,000 the city collected.

In terms of expenses, the total cost to operate the Visitors Center was $90,304.51, events cost $121,652 and advertising $54,260.

The chamber contributed $4,365 to the city’s Quail Drive Park, and conferences cost $575.

 

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Bisbee To State: Mind Your Own Business

 

Via dcourier.com

PHOENIX — The Bisbee city attorney told Attorney General Mark Brnovich Tuesday that his community’s regulations on plastic bags are none of the state’s business.

In a sometimes sharply worded letter, Britt Hanson detailed the city’s problem with blowing bags and the eyesore and expense they caused prior to adoption of a 2013 ordinance. That law prohibits retailers from providing free single-use plastic bags to customers; paper bags from recycled material can be provided with retailers required to charge a nickel.

The result, he said, has been a cleaner community and lower costs for retailers.

 

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Why Were Almost 300 Union Pacific Trains Lined Up For 3 Miles?

 

Via fox10phoenix.com

BENSON, Ariz. – It’s a fascinating sight: about three miles long, snaking through the Arizona desert. If you’ve ever driven on Interstate 10, southeast of Tucson near Benson, you can’t miss it. More than 300 Union Pacific locomotives lined up on a siding, just waiting for a train to pull.

“For the last 155 years, we’ve been carrying freight across the western half of the United States to the borders north and south,” said Jeff DeGraff, Director of Media Relations for Union Pacific.

Union Pacific operates about 8,500 locomotives, over 31,000 miles of track in 23 states, but why aren’t these engines pulling anything?

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Apache Solar Project To Provide Solar Energy To Cochise County And Beyond

 

Via willcoxrangenews.com

Rep. Martha McSally gives the keynote address during Friday’s Apache Solar Project dedication, near Cochise. McSally called the project a “great example of member-driven co-ops, from the bottom up, figuring out ways to provide reliable power to the community, instead of top-down bureaucrats telling them what to do.”

State Rep. Drew John, R-Safford, and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Apache Solar Project, near Cochise, last week. The electric power from the project’s 77,000 solar panels now flows into a transformer at the Apache Generating Station, and from there, to the power grid.

Now, when the sun shines over the Willcox Playa, near Cochise, it also shines “across more than 77,000 solar panels at the Apache Solar Project,” located on the Playa’s west boundary.

 

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Bascom Arizona Closes An 812-Unit Apartment Portfolio In Southern Arizona

 

Via markets.businessinsider.com

TUCSON and SIERRA VISTA, Ariz., Oct. 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Bascom Arizona Ventures has acquired three apartment communities located in Tucson & Sierra Vista, Arizona for $70,225,000, or $86,484 per unit. Bascom Arizona Ventures assumed the existing HUD loans for all three properties. Hamid Panahi of Marcus & Millichap represented the buyer and seller in the transactions. The onsite property management will be overseen by Arizona based Morrison, Ekre & Bart Management Services (MEB).

The purchase comes on the heels of the recent acquisitions of Springs at Silverbell, a 290-unit “Class A” community, and Springs at Continental Ranch, a 196-unit “Class A” community, both located in northwest Tucson, as well as La Entrada, a 186-unit community located near downtown Tucson.

All three properties offer a resort-style swimming pool, relaxing spa, 24-hour fitness center, business center, and private garages. Residents at Summit Vista (288 units), built in 2008 and Crescent Ridge (272 units), built in two phases (2001 & 2008), enjoy easy access to Interstate 10 and are proximate to some of the area’s largest employers, as well as a plethora of retail, dining, and entertainment options. Also built in two phases (2004 & 2008), Port Royale (252 units), is proximate to Ft. Huachuca, the largest military installation in the state.

Mark Brotherton, Portfolio Manager of Bascom affiliate Bascom Arizona Ventures, comments, “The Southern Arizona portfolio provides us with an exceptional opportunity to acquire another multifamily portfolio in a recovering market, well below replacement cost, with significant upside with our value-add program. Summit Vista, Crescent Ridge, and Port Royale are our 17th, 18th, & 19th acquisitions since August 2012 in the state of Arizona, and our fourth and fifth in Tucson in the past year. We are very excited about our newest acquisitions and look forward to commencing our value-add program as soon as possible.”

Bill Wright, Asset Manager of Bascom affiliate Bascom Arizona Ventures, adds, “The Bascom renovation program is designed to cure the previous owner’s extensive deferred maintenance, bring the properties to full operational capacity, and support Bascom’s proven business plan.”

About Bascom: The Bascom Group, LLC is a private equity firm specializing in value-added multifamily, commercial, non-performing loans, and real estate related investments and operating companies. Bascom sources value-added and distressed properties including many through foreclosure, bankruptcy, or short sales and repositions them by adding extensive capital improvements, increasing revenue, and reducing expenses by realizing operational efficiencies through implementation of institutional-quality property management. Bascom, founded by principals Jerry Fink, David Kim, and Derek Chen, is one of the most active and seasoned buyers and operators of apartment communities in the U.S. Bascom has completed over $13.3 billion in multifamily and commercial value-added transactions since 1996 including more than 528 multifamily properties containing over 141,000 units. Bascom has ranked among the top 50 multifamily owners in the U.S. Bascom’s subsidiaries and joint ventures include the Southern California Industrial Fund, Rushmore Properties, Bascom Portfolio Advisors, Shubin Nadal Associates, Spirit Bascom Ventures, REDA Bascom Ventures, MHF RM Holdings, Bascom Northwest Ventures, Bascom Arizona Ventures, Harbor Associates, Village Venture Partners, Bascom Milestone Ventures, and the Realm Group. Bascom’s subsidiaries also include Premier Business Centers, the largest privately held executive suite company in the U.S. For additional information, please visit www.bascomgroup.com.

 

 

 

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SunZia Transmission Project Moves To Preconstruction Phase

 

Via willcoxrangenews.com

The company planning to build two high voltage transmission lines across southeast Arizona that will end near the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station has begun securing right-of-way leases in Cochise, Graham, and Greenlee counties. When completed, the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project will stretch more than 515 miles, enabling New Mexico wind energy to become electricity in California.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently signed agreements allowing SunZia to be built across 50 miles of federal lands in Arizona and 134 miles in New Mexico. The $850 million line — which includes 200 miles across Arizona — will come within 10 miles of Benson as it passes through northern Cochise County.

“We’re almost there,” explained Getts, adding it will take about 30 months to construct the first line. When asked whether SunZia will “buy American,” Getts replied the company “certainly prefers domestic” vendors, but noted some specialty supplies are only available from foreign markets.

 

 

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Wilcox Greenhouse Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grow Tomatoes

 

Via science.kjzz.org

A huge greenhouse facility north of Willcox is growing tomatoes. But they’re not using traditional methods to produce the crops: they’re using artificial intelligence. This kind of high-tech farming will grow our future food.

Walking into tomato company NatureSweet’s greenhouse is like walking into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The long hall between the growhouses bustles with workers moving tomatoes and shouting directions.

The general manager, Gustavo Vera, shows off the rows of tomato plants growing up and suspended on hooks. They’re heavy with nearly-ripe, green tomatoes. Vera explains how the eight-week process to get them to this point is done very carefully.

“Growing tomatoes is an art,” he said. “So the grower needs to balance out several conditions at the same time.”

Conditions like humidity, temperature, irrigation, pest control, etc.

This is one of the 16 greenhouses on-site, which NatureSweet took over a few years ago.

They’ve changed the operation, and now they’re trying out a technology you wouldn’t expect to see in rural Arizona – artificial intelligence.

“This is going to revolutionize the industry, I believe,” Vera said. “Because what was an art, now has a data backup.”

Back in his office, Vera looks at a dashboard on his computer collecting data sent from the newly-installed cameras in the greenhouse.

“And this tells us, out of the houses you have, which ones do have control over operations,” he said, pointing to the half dozen houses that are up and running with the artificial intelligence technology.

He points to different charts and numbers that are constantly changing. It looks like the flight deck of a science fiction space ship.

But rather than star cluster maps, we’re looking at an overhead shot of the tomato growhouse we were just in. Instead of plants, they’re little dots in rows and rows. Vera clicks on a data layer and a few of the dots turn red.

Those red dots mean the plants have pests. They’re exact pinpoints that show growers where to find the problem crops.

It’s this type of data collection over time that becomes the “artificial intelligence.”

Agriculture technology specialist Robyn Lawson said it’s not the kind of AI that can take over the world,

“Aritifical intelligence has such this negative connotation, I immediately think of all those sci-fi movies from Hollywood, and that’s not what’s happening,” she said.

Lawson said it’s large scale data analytics that farmers are using nowadays as the labor availability becomes more limited and expensive.

Growers now have access to robot sensors, aerial imagery and hundreds of apps to help manage their fields.

Lawson said cutting-edge technology and agriculture have always gone hand-in-hand, but now it’s developing at a rapid pace.

“It’s almost over-saturated data,” she siad. “There are sometimes where growers are like, this is too much, I don’t even know how to put this together to make decisions.”

That’s where the central data system in Willcox comes in.

The countless data that workers, like irrigation technologist Juan Mosqueda, collect comes through a central app all the specialists have on their phones.

“So now, the only thing is I have to show you,” Mosqueda said. “And if it doesn’t come up on this one I can show you on this one.”

The only problem is, the WiFi connection isn’t good in this giant greenhouse – the app is slow to start up. But, Mosqueda can still input data – once he reaches a working signal, it goes through.

It’s still an upgrade from the pen and paper he’s always used.

“We don’t have to carry any other papers anymore, all the information is all in the same place, it gives us some nice graphs when we go to it,” Mosqueda said.

And, as farming technology keeps getting smarter, tech specialist Lawson said there may be a point where the plant itself could tell a grower, from a sensor in the seed, that it needs more water.

“I think in the very near future, we’re going to have sensors on each plant. In my lifetime, I think we’ll start to see that,” Lawson said.

It might be a while before that happens, but there’s no doubt the future of farming is going digital.

NatureSweet grows tomatoes using cocoa peat.(Photo by Casey Kuhn – KJZZ)

KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College, and Maricopa Community Colleges.  Copyright © 2017 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD

 

 

 

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Sierra Vista Ranked In Top 3 For Tech Workers

Via kvoa.com

That information comes from an annual study published by New York based personal finance technology company SmartAsset this week.

After cracking the top 10 in the study last year, Sierra Vista remains the only city in Arizona to make the list of the top 25. SmartAsset ranked 201 cities that had data for the five metrics it uses and noted that only 12 other cities in the study had a higher concentration of tech workers than Sierra Vista.

“Sierra Vista is something of a tech hub with 5.4 percent of workers employed in the field,” SmartAsset says. “Secondly, working in tech in Sierra Vista is a high paying gig … On average tech workers in Sierra Vista make $81,400 per year.”

Sierra Vista also scored above average when it comes to the unemployment rate of people with a bachelor’s degree and the ratio of a tech wage compared to an average wage in the community. The study also looked at cost of living. Columbus, Ohio, and Springfield, Illinois, were the only cities with a higher overall score than Sierra Vista.

“This top three ranking demonstrates that Sierra Vista should be on the short list of communities for tech workers seeking quality jobs and tech companies looking to expand,” Sierra Vista Economic Development Manager Tony Boone says. “With one of the best community colleges in the nation, and a new bachelor’s program in cyber operations at University of Arizona South, Sierra Vista has the educational foundation required to meet the workforce needs of growing companies in tech fields.”

To view the study published by SmartAsset on Aug. 15, go to smartasset.com/mortgage/the-best-american-cities-to-work-in-tech-in-2017.

© KVOA.com 2017, KVOA.com A CORDILLERA COMMUNICATIONS Station All rights reserved Privacy Policy, | Terms of Service, and Ad Choices

 

 

 

 

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County Sees Highest Job Growth Since 2008

Via svherald.com

According to data from Arizona’s Office of Economic Opportunity, the Cochise County economy added 500 jobs in the 12 months ended June for job growth of 1.5 percent. June’s year-over-year job gains were the most since the 12 months ended November 2008. In the 12 months from July last year through June this year, Cochise County saw year-over-year job gains in four months with stabilization in four months and slight declines in four months. That followed persistent job losses over the previous seven and a half years (from the beginning of 2009 through the middle of last year).

In the 12 months ended June, Cochise County’s private sector added 700 jobs for job growth of 3.1 percent. Those gains were partly offset by the loss of 200 government-sector jobs (-1.8 percent) with 100 of those in federal government (-2.0 percent) and 100 in state and local government (-1.7 percent).

All of the private-sector job gains in the 12 months ended June were service jobs, which were up by a net 700 (3.4 percent) with the addition of 500 educational and health services jobs (10.2 percent), 200 financial activities jobs (20 percent), and 100 leisure and hospitality jobs (2.8 percent) partly offset by the loss of 100 jobs in professional and business services (-2.8 percent). Job numbers stabilized intrade, transportation, and utilities, as well as in the information and other services industries, in the 12 months ended June.

Elsewhere in the private sector, the number of goods-producing jobs stabilized in the 12 months ended June with job numbers flat across manufacturing, construction, and mining.

In month-to-month comparisons, Cochise County lost 500 jobs from May to June—fewer than seasonally expected. All of the job losses were in state and local government and attributable to the end of the school year and turnover of personnel. State and local government job numbers will pick up again in August with the start of the new school year. Cochise County’s federal government job numbers stabilized from May to June.

Cochise County’s private sector gained 100 jobs from May to June, all of which were service jobs in the trade, transportation, and utilities industries. All other private-sector industries countywide (manufacturing; construction and mining; information; financial activities; professional and business services; educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; other services) saw job numbers stabilize at May levels in June.

According to OEO figures, Cochise County’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 5.6 to 5.5 percent from May to June. The June rate was down from 6.1 percent in June last year. Unadjusted city-level unemployment rates for June were: Benson, 4.9 percent; Bisbee, 4.0 percent; Douglas, 7.5 percent; Huachuca City, 7.1 percent; Sierra Vista, 5.1 percent; Tombstone, 1.7 percent; and Willcox, 6.0 percent.

Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stabilized at 5.1 percent from May to June (down from 5.3 percent in June 2016). The national unemployment rate inched upward from 4.3 to 4.4 percent in June (down from 4.9 percent in June last year).

Dr. Robert Carreira is chief economist at Cochise College Center for Economic Research. He can be reached at Robert@CochiseEconomy.com. Visit the CER website at CochiseEconomy.com.

 

 

 

 

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Improved Border Safety Brings More Arizona Business

Via prescottenews.com

PHOENIX – Just a year after beginning a study to determine how to improve efficiency and consistency at Arizona’s three primary international ports of entry, Arizona Department of Transportation officials already are seeing improvements that make the state a more attractive route for commercial carriers.

“While safety remains our No. 1 goal, we want to be as efficient as possible at helping commerce move across the border and into Arizona’s economy,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “By working closely with international trucking interests, we are supporting commercial traffic and boosting the economy not just in Arizona but along the Interstate 10 corridor and across the nation.”

These successes stem from ADOT’s use of a statewide systems approach championed by Gov. Doug Ducey for improving state government operations. The Arizona Management System empowers employees at state agencies to come up with innovative ways to better serve customers, including taxpayers, visitors to Motor Vehicle Division offices and trucking companies using Arizona’s ports of entry.

Commercial trucks entering the United States at Nogales, Douglas and San Luis are vital to Arizona’s economy. In 2015, about $30 billion in combined imports and exports crossed the international border at those three spots.

Yet Arizona officials were seeing a troubling trend: Some commercial trucking companies were using ports at Calexico, California, and Laredo, Texas, rather than coming through Arizona, even if Arizona was a more direct option. Companies said that higher costs associated with crossing the border in Arizona – including time lost during inspections, fines for violations and higher insurance rates – helped steer them elsewhere.

Working with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, inspectors from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and a consulting group that helps organizations operate more efficiently, ADOT inspectors have identified several critical changes that improve operations at Arizona’s ports, beginning with the port of entry at San Luis. The improved processes are now being rolled out at ports in Nogales and Douglas.

“Our review helped us identify things we could do better, such as making our inspection decisions consistent at every location,” said Tim Lane, director of ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division, which provides safety inspections. “We’ve already brought 51 inspectors through new training to make that happen.”

Keys to success include education, cross-border partnerships and using advanced technologies, Lane said.

“We also have begun doing a better job of educating Mexican trucking companies and drivers about what we expect during our safety inspections,” he added. “Our Border Liaison Unit already has held seven meetings – including one in Mexico, with two more planned – that explained our process to 158 people involved in international trucking.

The next step is a training process for drivers called International Border Inspection Qualification. In classes set to begin this month San Luis Río Colorado and later in Hermosillo, capital city of Sonora, drivers can earn a certificate that will demonstrate their understanding of the inspection process. Those drivers may face shorter inspections before getting back on the road.

Another key step: Coordinating inspections with other agencies. U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspects the cargo in commercial vehicles entering the country, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and ADOT check trucks for safety issues. By coordinating their inspections, federal and state officials are reducing inspection times and company costs while encouraging more trucking companies to cross the border in Arizona.

Other improvements include having inspectors record their work on tablets during inspections rather than entering the results afterward in a separate building, and focusing on trucks deemed to have a higher risk of violations, including those without decals from previous inspections and those from companies with histories of safety violations.

In the first few months, inspections at San Luis are down by more than 10 percent, inspection times are down 23 percent and 80 percent of commercial trucking companies rated the new process as excellent or very good. By focusing on higher-risk trucks, inspectors found 33 percent more safety violations, even as the number and length of inspections went down.

As a result, business is returning to Arizona. Commercial traffic at the San Luis port is up 7 percent in just two months. Seven companies that left Arizona for Calexico have returned, and 15 new companies are coming through Arizona, representing an increase of 102 trucks in all.

“We will continue looking at ways to improve the inspection process at all three ports,” Lane said. “But we’re starting to see real change.”

 

 

 

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