As part of the Town of Parker’s budget process, the Parker Town Council heard requests for funding from three outside agencies that received funds from the town’s hotel/motel bed tax. At a work session May 14, the council heard from the Parker Regional Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, the La Paz Economic Development Corporation, and La Paz County Tourism.
Parker Regional Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
Chamber Director Mary Hamilton said she was grateful for the council’s support in the past, and added she was asking for $50,000 for the chamber and tourism. She said they have brought a lot of visitors to the Parker area, and they have done a lot of marketing to bring more visitors to Parker.
Some council members asked Hamilton to focus more on activities and events within the Town of Parker itself. She replied they sponsor the very popular Downtown Experience each year before the Parker 425 off-road race. She added that visitors who attend events in the Parker area spend their money in the town.
Hamilton said the town can expect a “big blast of visitors” in early June with the Parker Tube Float, which is scheduled for June 8. She said they usually have 4,200 registered floaters for this event, along with large numbers of people who watch the float from the shoreline.
“It’s become a spectator sport,” Hamilton said.
The float switched to a new, shorter route in 2017, and Hamilton said this has been successful. There have been fewer complaints about trash as well as fewer medical calls. She said the behavior of participants has also improved.
Hamilton said she’s also working with law enforcement agencies to ensure the problems they had with “unofficial” shuttles do not happen again this year. She said they will have more official shuttles and buses.
Hamilton told the council the chamber will be doing a “Visitor Intercept Survey” this year. This study, which will be pearly funded by the Arizona Office of Tourism, will provide them with data they’ve never had before. She added this data can also be used for other purposes like economic development.
Councilman Frank Savino asked if the Colorado River Indian Tribes had also been solicited for funds. Hamilton said they had, but the chamber had not received anything from the Tribes. Savino noted the chamber had received $30,000 from La Paz County and $48,000 from the town.
“Everything you do, it seems like a major player isn’t involved,” Savino said.
In response to a question from Mayor Dan Beaver, Hamilton said the BlueWater Resort & Casino is a member of the chamber, and they have been a good partner.
Hamilton concluded her remarks by saying, “I am honored to serve the Parker community and La Paz County.”
La Paz Economic Development Corporation
La Paz Economic Development Corporation President Skip Becker began his remarks by thanking the council for their support in the past. He said the county is experiencing unprecedented growth.
As examples of that growth, Becker said La Paz County sales tax collections increased by 23 percent from September 2014 to September 2018. He said that, from 1987 to 2012, the county had $30 million in economic projects. He said the EDC now sees $50 million in economic projects each year. This included $16 million in Parker in the last five years.
Becker said he has many exciting projects in the works. He’s currently working on seven projects in Parker, and three of them involve the Arizona & California Railroad.
As Chairman of the Association for Economic Development’s Rural Committee, Becker said he has brought plenty of attention and exposure to Parker and La Paz County.
Becker said the biggest economic event ever in the history of the county was the opening of the Tanya Cecil grain terminal and railroad spur line at Rose Acre Farms Lone Cactus Egg Farm south of Bouse. He said he made sure the Town of Parker was involved and mentioned before corporate America.
Vice Mayor Jerry Hooper said he’d like to see Becker focus on businesses that would increase the town’s sales tax revenue.
Becker replied that businesses that have come to La Paz County have brought in gasoline tax and sales tax revenue.
“People buy gas and they buy other things here,” he said.
Becker noted 90 percent of the Rose Acre Farms employees live in the Parker area.
Councilman David Lucas asked how much the EDC receives from La Paz County. Becker said about $30,000 per year. He added there are many other investors, including the A & C Railroad.
Mayor Dan Beaver said he’s lived in Parker his whole life, and he is very impressed with the changes Becker has brought to the community and the county.
La Paz County Tourism
Mark Goldberg of La Paz County Tourism said they are asking for $1,500 so they can continue to produce the annual “Passport to Adventure.” He said this brochure puts information about events in La Paz County in one convenient place.
Goldberg said they produce about 25,000 of these brochures, and they receive a very wide distribution.
“We put them anywhere winter visitors go,” he said.
Goldberg said they rely on partnerships and do not run any advertising in the brochure.
This was a work session, so no decisions could be made. The council is trying to work out a budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.