Economic planner gives outlook on airport-area businesses

Cottonwood Economic Development Planner Casey Rooney has been on the airport area business beat recently surveying the current and future status of companies in that area.

With more and more office space, businesses and industrial parks emerging around the Cottonwood Airport, Rooney found it worthy to get a general idea of what's going on and what to expect.

"I looked at 22 businesses -- I went to every business I could get into," Rooney said. "I looked at products, services and number of employees, and asked general questions like, 'How's business?'"

Rooney found that there are approximately 115 current employees working in various complexes near the airport. He projected that -- taking in consideration the expected new facilities to be built and additional employees to be hired by existing businesses -- in the next five years there could possibly be 475 people working in the area. And that number, he said, could easily be higher.

One project approved by the Cottonwood City Council last month is expected to bring in approximately 180 more people by itself.

Rooney said most of those surveyed stated they are optimistic on the future of business around the airport.

It is not only airport-area businesses that are on economic professionals' minds. The airport itself and its relation to economic development have been heated topics of discussion recently.

The city council looked at the possibility of creating an airport advisory committee at the Feb. 20 meeting.

At that meeting, Al Gradigan, president of the Cottonwood Airport Users Association, said, "We have an airport, and it's a valuable asset."

Gradijan spoke of how air traffic is growing significantly. He said there are a large number of people using airplanes for business -- and that trend is growing.

"There has never been as many new types of airplanes on the drawing board as there are now," he said.

Outlook on Cottonwood in general

Rooney also expressed optimism for the future of the city in all areas.

"I see a lot of wealth-generating businesses coming here and plenty more retail in the future too," he said.

Rooney predicts an upscale resort and several more hotels coming to the area. He said he has been fielding many questions as to when large retail stores such as Target and other will come to the area.

"They're coming," he said. "No doubt."

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