As a participant in APS's Focused Future project, the city of Cottonwood had the opportunity to get feedback from the community and help from professionals to create a Strategic Action Plan.
The project was put in place by APS as a way to help rural communities set up economic development plans.
The plan focused on business development, youth development, having a healthy community, labor force development and infrastructure development.
Cottonwood was involved first in 1995 for Focused Future and was on board again for Focused Future II, a continuation of the first project. The second Focused Future included public opinion and feedback. The first project did not.
Groups involved in the project included, Yavapai College's Small Business Development Center, the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, the Cottonwood Foundation for Economic Development, the Old Town Association and the City of Cottonwood.
Each group involved in the project set roles and responsibilities for themselves to fulfill in the years to come.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) participated in the project and saw some of the benefits of it.
Part of the final Strategic Action Plan is to assist the SBDC. The plan focused on business development in the area and the final plan set goals for the community regarding the SBDC.
"Work to fully fund the Small Business Development Center," according to the Action Plan statement. "The SBDC provides tremendous technical assistance to new business start-ups and business expansions."
The main problem for the SBDC is the lack of staff. It was addressed in the in the Focused Future study.
"We need triple the staff to handle the current work load," said A. Roy Horn, a counselor with the SBDC.
He said the SBDC has only one part time professional and one student assistant working for the SBDC.
As well as addressing current problems and possible solutions for the SBDC, Horn said Focused Future helped the SBDC get recognized.
"It shows the importance of the college and the Small Business Development Center," Horn said. "People have to have a source to go to."
The SBDC provides general small business counseling for no fee. They also offer guidance in the legal requirements for licensing and taxation, expanding a business and retention or small business in the Verde Valley. The SBDC offers management training and development, as well as, technical assistance seminars. They assist in product and service development, marketing research and development.
"We're about it, and we're free," Horn said.
Horn liked how Focused Future II worked out, he was a member of the Steering and Action Team for the project.
"It was very well done and very well worthwhile," Horn said.
The SBDC is open by appointment only Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We're a service that does a great amount of good," Horn said.
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