Housing study part of larger strategy for City of Globe

Globe Economic Development Director Linda Oddonetto during a presentation on the Cobre Valley Collaborative to Globe City Council on Feb. 26 regular meeting. The collaborative is working to establish a 3-year strategic plan focused on housing, recreation and educational opportunities for the Cobre Valley Region. Photo by Carol Broeder.

A dozen members of the community gathered at Cobre Valley Medical Center last week to talk about the state of housing in the Globe-Miami area, and the prognosis is there is a housing crisis in the community.

In addition to the blight affecting much of the region, particularly in the unincorporated areas between Globe and Miami, there is a shortage of both low-income and professional family level housing as well as available rental properties.

“It’s every type of housing,” group leader Stacey Herrera Murry, owner of Kachina Properties in Globe, said. “[This is] a community effort: Talking about and trying to determine what we need and how we’re going to go out and get it.”

The meeting was part of an effort by the City of Globe’s Economic Development Department (EDD) to create a community economic plan through a 3-year grant from the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC).

According to EDD Director Linda Oddonetto, the initial project is to create a strategic planning process to determine “gaps and opportunities” within the community to revitalize the local economy.

The second in a series of three meetings, the group gathered to identify an “action plan” for the scope of a housing study set to begin in April that should take 60-90 days to complete.

“The most recent study that focused on Globe-Miami was completed in 2012 and there were quite a few holes in it,” Oddonetto said. “It was very specific to workforce housing and didn’t consider single-family homes; it did not consider senior housing needs…. We’re wanting the new study to be all-encompassing.”

The housing group worked from a series of bullet points including strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

Regional strengths included outdoor recreation opportunities, weather, community collaboration and job opportunities.

Heading the list of weaknesses was lack of affordable housing, but housing blight was among the top problems identified as roadblocks to economic development. Opportunities included “marketing the area as a premier place to live,” as housing prices in surrounding areas are much higher, also citing Gila County’s recent marketing efforts with the rollout of www.discovergilacounty.com.

Among the threats to future development were failing cesspool systems; investors holding onto properties and not maintaining them; blight, and lack of amenities, revenue, contractors and cooperation.

Oddonetto described a recent “aha moment,” when an outside business came to Globe in search of 5,000-square feet of commercial property and a 3-year lease on “50 housing units.”

“That just does not exist,” she said. “We are definitely in a housing crisis.”

A parallel group known as the Cobre Valley Collaborative is also looking at past efforts to incorporate into future planning.

“One thing that we did keep hearing from people who have been participating in community development work for many, many more years than we have is that they’ve sat in similar meetings in the past and nothing has happened,” Oddonetto said. “We’re wanting to take those efforts off the shelf because there are definitely good strategies [we can] take out and put to good use.”

She cited different leadership, community collaborations and renewed interest taking place in the region that could lead to “more substantial outcomes from previous efforts.”

The EDD’s collaborative efforts are being funded through the RCAC and a variety of rural development grants and partnerships, including a Live Well Arizona Incubator Grant from Vitalyst Health Foundation and AZ Partnership for Healthy Communities.

A presentation at the Feb. 26 city council meeting, Oddonetto described the Cobre Valley Collaborative as “a community of passionate leaders, city, town and county officials, advocates, and community members who have a vested interest in collaborating to develop a 3-year community plan addressing education, housing, and recreation for the Cobre Valley region.”

The “three pillars” of the study are housing, education and recreation, considered to be “quality of life opportunities.”

“What can we be doing to bring more people into our community; what can we be doing to keep people in our community and make ourselves a vibrant, sustainable community,” Oddonetto posited to the housing group.

The City of Globe entered into the agreement with RCAC last February and hosted a series of meetings throughout 2018 to find what the community considered to be the most important aspects for future community development. While the scope of the original contract called for the one Economic Development Project, community response to four “Recharge Our Community Economy” work sessions was so strong there are seven in the works, including downtown revitalization; Cobre Valley Indoor Farms; housing business; Cobre Valley Regional Trail System; renewable energy generation; manufacturing and other businesses, and copper hardware for sanitary or germs control.

“This effort is purely community driven,” Oddonetto said.

Funding for the RCAC comes from its Building Rural Economies (BRE) initiative that “provides training in comprehensive community economic development to support and develop local assets and talents.”

Its goals are to increases local entrepreneurship and jobs; develop catalytic projects that seed additional investments, and develops a supportive, entrepreneurial environment for economic development to thrive.

RCAC will provide $45,000 through the life of the project, while the City of Globe adds $15,000 in matching dollars to fund a community coordinator position.

“The value to the city is way more than the $45,000 provided by RCAC,” Oddonetto said. “Given the resources and expert guidance we receive to assess our efforts the return on investment is upwards of $300,000.”

Work to this point has focused on phase one, identifying economic opportunities in the community and leaders to guide them. In phase two, RCAC will provide curriculum to help train local entrepreneurs and business owners and phase three will be implementation of the plan with the support of RCAC.

“We are going to dust past efforts off, and utilize our community stakeholder’s current work, and use them as we develop our strategic roadmap,” Oddonetto said at the rollout of the Cobre Valley Collaborative last November. “We need to understand where we’ve been and acknowledge what’s currently being done to get us where we know we can be.”

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