I think we can all agree Benson is a good place to live. I think we can all agree we need more jobs, more opportunities, and renewed economic development.
What we may not all agree on is the best way to accomplish this and that disagreement is evident among certain circles when we talk about the planned Rosemont Mine project on the Sonoita highway south of Tucson.
Let me state unequivocally: Rosemont will be an immense benefit for the roughly 18,000 people who live in Northwest Cochise County.
Consider these factors:
- Job creation: Approximately 1,600 jobs will be created initially, and after the start-up period of 18 months, more jobs will eventually support as many as 406 families for a generation to come.
- Average salary - $59,000 annually. Compare that to an average salary of $38,000 in our part of Cochise County.
- Rosemont will provide $15 billion in local revenue over the life of the mine. Tax Revenue will be $404 million in local taxes over the life of the mine.
- Proximity and accessibility: Rosemont is a 35-minute drive from Benson, most of it on I-10. That makes it attractive not only to people living here who might be employed by Rosemont, but to people who will come to the area seeking jobs, housing, and a lifestyle measurably better than that found in the Tucson metro area. We need to aggressively promote Benson and the surrounding area to those potential residents who will have good incomes and stable employment.
Let’s get back to what we can all agree on. We can all agree that times are tough in Benson. There’s a 50 percent vacancy rate in commercial property here and our housing market continues to struggle. Once operating, Rosemont’s economic benefits will spread to local contractors and what’s known as ‘spin-off” businesses that are established to support operations. The Benson City Council realized this early on; we were one of the first incorporated cities to unanimously pass a resolution of support for Rosemont.
When I served as Mayor of Benson I encouraged difference of opinion. Public discourse is one of the strengths of our community and indeed, our nation - and debate clarifies the issues. However, there are some in the area who want to preserve their own piece of the pie no matter the cost to the community and there are those who will always object to any and all progress. To them I say, open your minds and think about the long-term good of your community.
The Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group (SAEDG) is a nonprofit organization working to promote new opportunities for our area. As Director, and with the help of the SAEDG board, we will promote the conviction we have that the Rosemont mine will be a boon to the local economy and improve the standard of living for us all. Please take a moment to visit Rosemont Copper's website, learn more about the project, and support the opportunities it promises to bring.
Director, Southeast Arizona Economic Development Group