“Let's stop distorting the story and tell it how it really is. Let's really promote what we have in our region."
– Mignonne Hollis, executive director, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation”
Mignonne Hollis – the executive director of the Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation – shares many goals with the Southwestern Communities Coalition including sustainable economic growth as well as recruitment and retention of business opportunities in Southeastern Arizona.
Ms. Hollis sat down with us at the Southwestern Communities Coalition kickoff event to outline her views on the current economic stagnation in the region.
“My job is to support economic development through numerous ways, namely business creation, retention, expansion and attraction,” said Hollis. “In order to do that we have to have a healthy community.”
Hollis said the false narrative and rhetoric caused by phony environmentalists is to blame.
“When you pick up the paper and you see the headlines, it’s always something negative. There’s another lawsuit, there’s another permit that’s been denied,” said Hollis. “It affects not only developers, but also the mining industry. They can’t get started because of the permitting problem and a lot of that comes back to the environmentalists trying to stop that.”
“When you hear things like ‘we need to preserve our land down here’ people think ‘oh, that’s an anti-growth community we can’t go down there. There’s not enough water. We’ll run into constraints with developers.’ much like what we’re facing already in our region. And, then no one else wants to come,” said Hollis. “There’s a movement of anti-growth in the community and what I say to that is ‘that’s fine if you want to stay small, but we have to stay sustainable.’ And in order to stay sustainable, you have businesses and economic growth that have to happen in order to support that sustainability.”
Hollis reiterated how important Cochise County and Southeastern Arizona is to her and people in her communities.
“This community in Cochise County is what I call home,” said Hollis. “My passion is rural America and rural Arizona and therefore rural Cochise county. There’s a way to tell our story without it being so negative and harsh and hampering against the economic development in our area. There’s history in Cochise County and if we start focusing on the real stories, the true stories and the good stuff, that would help immensely. Let’s stop distorting the story and tell it how it really is. Let’s really promote what we have in our region.”