Home » Government » RCAC returns to Globe for board meeting and progress report

RCAC returns to Globe for board meeting and progress report

​​The nonprofit organization that helped kickstart Globe’s economic development in 2018 will return to the City this month when the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) conducts its annual board meeting.

Twenty-one board members from RCAC’s 13-state service area will convene in Globe for their yearly gathering. They’ll also be here to see how the City has progressed since their last visit.

It will be the second time RCAC has returned to the site of one of its greatest success stories since the Recharge Our Community Economy (ROC) meetings in 2018, when a diverse group of community stakeholders attended a series of meetings at the Gila County Fairgrounds to provide feedback on a vision for Globe’s future.

Since then, Globe has taken a modest grant from RCAC and turned it into a strategic plan that has brought millions of dollars into the City’s coffers for infrastructure upgrades and service investments. These investments and upgrades benefit the entire Globe-Miami region and contribute to a long-term vision for the future.

The RCAC, founded in 1978, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works with rural communities in 13 western states to provide “training, technical and financial resources and advocacy so rural communities can achieve their goals and visions,” according to its stated mission.

“Globe has become one of the most successful programs,” says Carol Cohen, RCAC’s Assistant Director of Community Environmental Services. “Partially because so much local leadership is devoted to improving the community and economic development opportunities. That leadership is not just within the municipality, but also in the local community itself.”

A three-year, $45,000 grant through the Building Rural Economies (BRE) initiative, funded by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, provided seed money to create Globe’s Economic and Community Development Department (ECD). That department, in turn, has spurred growth and led to a number of successes, from an increase in housing and urban beautification to improvements in parks and aging infrastructure throughout the City.

According to Globe Mayor Al Gameros, the process began when discussions within the City Council took place after he was first elected in 2016.

“When the new Council came in, we wanted to market our city, but it was a process we needed to learn,” Gameros says. “We thought it would be as easy as investing funding  into it, but that’s not the case. It was a real eye-opener.”

Gameros says that once the ECD was established, Linda Oddonetto was hired as the director. Her position was funded in part through the BRE grant.

“We decided to invest in full-time staff to move our economic development, because in the past we’d relied on the Council and Mayor to advertise our city. But most Council members have to work, so it’s not going to happen unless you have somebody doing it full-time,” Gameros says. 

“I don’t know how we could have been successful if we didn’t have an economic development department.”

As a result of that initial investment, the City of Globe successfully launched its first marketing campaign, Arizona to the Core, and created its first Strategic Action Plan. Along the way, the City has developed beneficial partnerships and expanded staffing to handle an increasing workload accompanying development growth.

The SAP outlines the City’s objectives and goals, focusing on economic development, public safety, infrastructure and financial sustainability. The facets related to economic development include business development and retention, downtown revitalization, housing, and increased quality of life and recreation.

Community partners have expanded to include a wide array of organizations such as Gila County, Central Arizona Governments and Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization committed to economic development in the state.

“RCAC provides a framework on how to build economic development capacity within a region and identify priorities and opportunities through a community-driven process,” says Oddonetto. “With the ‘Recharge Our Community Economy’ regional meetings, we worked together to identify our community’s forms of wealth and individual capital.

“More simply, to identify the ‘boots on the ground’—the people and organizations we already have in place, and our community’s strengths—the assets that makes Globe so unique, and use this to create a roadmap, the plan to grow businesses, increase quality of life and to do so with sustainability in mind.”

Despite the pandemic, fire, and floods, the Council has maintained a committed focus on its goals as businesses and developers are increasingly attracted to the City of Globe.

Thanks to the efforts of the City’s Council, staff and administration, Globe has been able to position itself to be extremely competitive for grants from state and federal entities. The City can then leverage these awards with funding from partners in the private sector such as BHP, Freeport-McMoRan and Capstone. 

In all, since 2018 more than $125 million in grant funding and community partnerships has been invested in Globe. And more is on the way.

Those external dollars have financed completed projects such as the refurbished community pool, paving projects throughout the community, and repairs to water delivery and sewer systems. The funds have also paid for bridge replacements, building revitalization, park improvements, flood/fire recovery, and new infrastructure, such as the sidewalk project along Jesse Hayes Road to the Gila Pueblo campus.

Future projects have also benefited, with funds going to a regional housing study as part of the SAP and a feasibility study for a northeast sewer expansion in years to come.

External funding has also helped equip, fully staff and upgrade both the Police and Fire departments, with $13 million identified to build a new fire station on Ash Street in the near future.

RCAC even helped secure funding to help small businesses and the City survive the COVID shutdown. Paycheck Protection Program loans helped business owners stay afloat in the wake of the pandemic.

“It’s been a great relationship, and they’ve been a tremendous partner to us,” says Councilman Freddy Rios. “That we were able to use their resources, their professionalism, their experience, was a win-win situation for both of us. 

“That partnership really excelled for both entities.”

Globe Mayor Al Gameros joined Nathan Ohle, CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), at the IEDC Leadership Summit to talk about Globe’s economic successes in Tucson in January 2023. Courtesy photo

Globe’s success even put the City in the national spotlight, when Mayor Gameros joined Nathan Ohle, CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), at the IEDC Leadership Summit in Tucson last year. Gameros was selected as the rural representative on a national panel where he discussed topics such as rural prosperity and policy, infrastructure, recovery and equity. 

The mayor was also featured in the Brookings Institute podcast “Developing a Resilient Downtown in Globe, Arizona.” 

Gameros shared his insights into taking advantage of federal funds available to rural communities, highlighting Globe’s economic development. He also talked about the importance of investing, generating and leading the conversation on the future of rural economic development.

The partnership between the City and the RCAC has been a symbiotic relationship from the beginning, and as Globe continues to achieve its goals, the City’s success has helped raise the profile of the RCAC. 

According to Ari Neumann, RCAC’s Director of Community and Environmental Services, Globe has created a roadmap for rural communities hoping to rebuild their local economies throughout the West. 

Neumann, who is from Genesee, Idaho, a town with a population of about 900, sees Globe as providing a template for other communities to use in the future.

“Our work in Globe has taught us how to better support the other communities we work with and gives us an example we can point to when those communities start to doubt that they can reinvigorate their local economies,” Neumann says. 

“Every time I come back, there are new and exciting things going on downtown, the community continues to show up for one another, and it’s just a really special place. 

“Every visit to Globe reminds me of why RCAC came to be in the first place—to help rural and Indigenous communities in the West be vibrant, healthy, and thriving.”

He adds that Globe has inspired other communities throughout the West, from Springerville, Arizona, to New Cuyama, California, and even Kodiak, Alaska.

“Seeing what is truly possible in a small town when the community comes together to support each other is a message that resonates everywhere RCAC works,” Neumann says.

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