“It’s time to tell the true story. Stop trying to skew things for your own agenda and truly look at what’s going to be best for the community. Once we do that, I think we can come to the table and talk.” – Najayyah Many Horses, City of Benson/San Pedro Valley Chamber of Commerce
Najayyah Many Horses was one of the hundreds of concerned residents of Southeastern Arizona at the Southwestern Communities Coalition Kickoff Luncheon. She spoke about some of the challenges the City of Benson has when it comes to starting and maintaining businesses in the region.
“We have ranchers, that are part of our chamber, we have small businesses people that have thrift stores people, larger businesses, ice cream shops,” said Many Horses. “Some of them have been in the area for years. Not too many young people which I would like to have. Honestly, there are not a lot of opportunities here. Once you get out of college, most of the jobs go to Sierra Vista or Tucson or even further out depending on what you want to do. Those who stay behind, we don’t have a lot to offer them.”
Many Horses then provided a few solutions to the problems many rural areas face in today’s economy.
“In my opinion the only way we’re going to be able to thrive is develop more housing, to bring in more people, something a little more upscale than we have now, then people would flock this way,” said Many Horses. “And if the people come, the businesses come, and when the businesses come, the job opportunities open up. And that’s really, really important.”
One of the biggest challenges according to Many Horses is the vehement opposition to growth under the guise of environmental protection.
“There’s nothing wrong with growing,” said Many Horses. “And there are ways of doing it productively, and to be able to maintain. But rather than come to the table and talk and try to figure out how to make this work, people are stuck on why it won’t work. It’s time to tell the true story. Stop trying to skew things for your own agenda and truly look at what’s going to be best for the community. Once we do that, I think we can come to the table and talk.”
Many Horses summed up her comments with one, powerful statement.
“Stop causing fear. Stop lying. Stop fabricating. And let’s talk real. What is it that you really want? Not your agenda. But what’s going to work for the masses.”