Saturday, August 13, 2011

Casa Grande attracts developments

Last week's announcement of a new $150 million business center coming to Casa Grande is just the latest in a string of developments that the community has attracted over the past few years.

Barry Albrecht, CEO of the Central Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation, credits steady recruiting efforts as well as widening of both Interstate 10 and Union Pacific rails through the area.

The newest project is a 1.5 million square foot center to be called Phoenix Mart that will serve as a world trade center, or sort of a wholesale-shopping center for businesses. It's expected to host 2,000 vendors offering products and services to businesses.

"We truly are getting international attention from the solar industry and distribution and aerospace," Albrecht said.

The Casa Grande area has always had the advantage of sitting between the state's two largest metro areas and near the juncture of Interstates 10 and 8. It still has relatively low-cost land.

And now the widening of I-10 and double tracking of the Union Pacific rails there is helping Albrecht's group boost the area's greater potential as a distribution center. He recently returned from a meeting in Park City, Utah, with more than 40 site selectors looking for places to put 1 to 2 million square feet of distribution space.

The central Arizona group has been plugging away at economic-development initiatives for the past three years and they have begun paying off. "In today's market, especially in economic development, you can't afford to wait for the phone to ring," he said.

Casa Grande's population doubled in the past decade, and it is the largest city in Pinal County.

Among recent developments there:

- Ritchie Bros., a Canadian-based industrial auction company, is relocating from Phoenix to a 140-acre site in Casa Grande. When it opens in 2013, it expects to attract 1,000 to 2,000 people from around the world for its auctions of backhoes, bulldozers and other construction equipment.

- Monsanto Co., a Fortune 500 company, moved a state cotton research center to Casa Grande in 2010 and now has about 50 of what Albrecht calls quality jobs. Much of the cotton grown in the South originates from seeds developed there.

- ACO Polymer, a German company, opened a 40,000-square-foot plant in Casa Grande in 2007 to service the western U.S. and Mexico and is expanding. It makes polymer concrete draining systems.

- Grande Sports World has been training 12 to 18 Major League Soccer teams, including some from Canada, New Zealand and Rwanda, for the past three seasons.

- The Promenade at Casa Grande shopping center that opened in 2007 increased city sales-tax revenues 15 percent.

Casa Grande also has a Frito-Lay plant.

by Betty Beard The Arizona Republic Aug. 7, 2011 12:00 AM

Casa Grande attracts developments

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