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How a federal grant could be a major win for this northern Arizona city

The federal transportation department has awarded nearly $1 million to the Interstate 40 TradePort Corridor. It’s an effort to bring manufacturing and other jobs to communities along the highway, including Kingman and Winslow, as well as Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The I-40 TradePort Corridor is one of 14 recipients of federal money under the Regional Infrastructure Accelerators program.

To get a sense of how the project could impact one of the cities involved, The Show spoke with Winslow Mayor Roberta Canó and discussed how significant she thinks this corridor will be for her community.

Full interview

ROBERTA CANÓ: Oh, it's gonna be, it's gonna be completely game changing for our community and the region and even nationally. The, the concept behind what this could do for our community specifically is, is just something we had never dreamed of of ever being like in this, in this lifetime.

You know, as a reality, we had been kind of looked over for so many decades. It's, it's almost overwhelming to think of the possibilities and the opportunity that is due to come because of this, this concept and, and you know, just it's very preliminary right now. But when, when it does come to fruition, it will be a life changing event for everybody in this region.

In what ways do you think it will be such a game changer, such a life changer for, for Winslow?

CANÓ: Well, as far as jobs that had been lacking for several decades, it's gonna be probably the major, the major component.

We had been a very prosperous city when first, you know, ever incorporated and through like the early '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s, through the '60s, and like into the '70s when Route 66 was like the, the mother road, the, the, you know, one of the major modes of transportation and, and vacationing and all those things, you know. It was, Winslow was thriving, it was like a little metropolis city and, and the, the creation of I-40 really was a detriment to our community and a lot of those thriving businesses that are in our local downtown, right, right on Route 66 had suffered for many, many decades.

And so the revitalization of something like this and, and being able to be in our city, it's gonna just kind of bring us back to that heyday of growth and opportunity.

Yeah. Well, so what kinds of jobs are you most looking forward to? Like, what kinds of jobs would you expect to be created because of this?

CANÓ: Well, with, with this grant having come through, it's really just all preliminary and planning and really trying to figure out how Winslow fits in this I 40 Corridor, TradePort Corridor. And, so Winslow is kind of like a clean blank slate right now, where we have all of the major components you would need for something like this to be successful.

We have a fantastic rail system with rail spurs. We have an airport that's completely underutilized. We have I-40, which is massive. We have lots of land, and we have a very generous water supply.

What what Winslow's component is gonna be, is we're looking for industry that's gonna be solutions to some of our, our energy problems and, and having like emphasis on green energy.

When you talk about, you know, trying to attract green energy companies, things like that does that, does that mean that you're looking at the situation as maybe turning Winslow into more of a manufacturing situation as opposed to a, a warehouse logistics kind of kind of hub?

CANÓ: Yes. So we, we, we think there's gonna be a, a good combination of all. You know, we, we could host manufacturing obviously with like our airport and our, our rail and, and the I-40 having trucks come in and out. Of course, warehousing would be ideal as well.

But for industry, for new products and things like that, we are definitely looking towards like a greener, you know, those who are looking, you know, to, to start something new, that again, you know, we're wanting solutions for some of the problems in, in our country. And, you know, we're, we're, we're saying that Winslow is, are opening their arms for some of those concepts.

Well, I'm curious, like, do you have the infrastructure, do you have the workforce to have those kinds of companies relocating to Winslow at this moment?

CANÓ: Well, we're, we are definitely counting on our, our neighboring Native communities to, you know, to be a part of that workforce. And, and we, we realize that with some of this attraction of new industry, we are, we are gonna have some new people coming to our city, we're gonna have some growth. I would imagine that in, in 10 years, we may, you know, potentially double in size, which, you know, kind of has been a long time coming.

We've been, we've been pretty consistent in our population for, for a long time and, and even if we were to grow by 5,000, that would really make a difference.

Well, so you mentioned that this is all very preliminary, this first sort of batch of money coming in. So given sort of how optimistic you are like, what are the next steps and what kind of timeline might you be looking at to sort of realize some of this potential that you're talking about?

CANÓ: So we are, we are partnering and we have a, a memo of understanding with our partners Kingman in Albuquerque being our in that TradePort Corridor. So we, we are definitely having to work very closely with, with their, you know, powers that be in their administrations and things like that, too.

Understand which cities could be important for what component of some of this concept, you know, and then, and a lot of it is about the supply chain issues, bringing industry back to America. And how do we all come together as these major cities along I-40 to, you know, assist that, you know, what, who, who, you know, what location is gonna be best suited for this, X, Y and Z is, is kind of what a lot of this, this planning grant is gonna be for, is, you know, what works for each one of us?

Well, is it, is it the case that Kingman, Winslow and Albuquerque, like, are, are you, does it seem like you're all sort of situated for different things as opposed to maybe all of you competing for the same green energy manufacturing or, or is there enough sort of difference between what the three of you have to offer that there's sort of enough to go around?

CANÓ: Yes, yes. So I, so I believe that, you know, with some of the things that are already in place, let's say like in Kingman, knowing that they've already got certain certain things ready to go, they would be more suited for maybe like, you know, distribution or, or like warehouse type part of it or, or, you know, it, and that's again, like really what this grant is for. We're, we're just trying to figure out who's best suited for what.

But being that Winslow really hasn't had a lot of growth in that industry realm for many decades, we have like the wide open space to really become the, the location for new, new industries to come in. Anything that happens is, is gonna be a positive for our community. We're, it's just welcomed and, and our people are ready and hungry to, you know, have some, some opportunity come our way.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.