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Jan
8
2019
CIty of San Luis Annual Review

SAN LUIS, Ariz. – 2018 saw the arrival of new businesses and an economic rebound in San Luis, fueled by a thriving housing market and demand by residents for consumer goods and services, the city's mayor said.

Looking back on the year just completed, Mayor Gerardo Sanchez said he believes San Luis was able to strike a positive balance between business growth and City Hall spending on public infrastructure needs of residents.

Sanchez believes his and the city council's agenda for San Luis was validated by the results of the 2018 election season, which saw a crowded field of candidates compete for mayor and four council seats.

SAN LUIS, Ariz. – 2018 saw the arrival of new businesses and an economic rebound in San Luis, fueled by a thriving housing market and demand by residents for consumer goods and services, the city's mayor said.

Looking back on the year just completed, Mayor Gerardo Sanchez said he believes San Luis was able to strike a positive balance between business growth and City Hall spending on public infrastructure needs of residents.

Sanchez believes his and the city council's agenda for San Luis was validated by the results of the 2018 election season, which saw a crowded field of candidates compete for mayor and four council seats.

Facing three opponents in the primary, Sanchez captured more than half the total vote cast, allowing him to reclaim his seat without having to compete in a runoff in the November general. Three incumbent council members and one other council candidate, all of whom had run with Sanchez as a bloc in the electoral campaign, likewise won automatic re-election in the primary, have also garnered more than half the votes cast for the seats they sought.

The fact that the city did not have to have a general election meant the mayor and council could put aside campaigning and proceed with projects already begun. Among them was the repaving of Plaza I, the city's oldest residential subdivision, and planning for paving and upgrades to water and sewer lines in the Los Portales subdivision. That latter project is scheduled to take place in 2019.

"(The primary election results) had a lot to do with the stability of (city) government," said Sanchez. "The wheels (of progress) began to turn again."

The mayor said City Hall has focused in recent years on upgrading streets that he contends had been neglected for decades. And, he added, recent upgrades made to the city's water and sewage systems, financed with incremental increases in utility rates, allow the city to avoid sanitation problems and possible lawsuits stemming from those problems, as well as to meet the demands posed by rapid population growth.

Sanchez said the expansion of the water and sewer systems enables San Luis to attract new businesses and industry, as well as serve population growth for the foreseeable future.

Among the new businesses expected to arrive over the next year is a hotel and a commercial complex, to be located on the northwest corner of Highway 95 and County 22nd Street. Work on the $22 million project, said Sanchez, is due to begin in the first half of 2019, and is expected to create 100 temporary jobs during the construction phase and then 50 permanent jobs.

Sanchez said all indicators are that San Luis will continue seeing residential growth on the east side, where construction of three residential subdivisions has already begun or is planned. Meanwhile, new commercial development is expected on west side, particularly along the Main Street corridor, where a Denny's restaurant has already opened and a new Chevron gasoline station and convenience store is also planned.

"We have taken a more aggressive attitude to promote the city, and it's paying off," Sanchez said. "Not only do we have a Chevron that will open in the first months of the year, but there is also the Piana plant, in the (former) Meadowcraft building, which will go into operation before March. That was a project that had been planned for Phoenix, and we succeeded in attracting it to San Luis instead, to create much needed jobs."

Piana Nonwovens, LLC, a textiles company, opened a fiber-producing plant during late 2018 in a 125,000-square-foot building on the north side of the city that previously housed a Meadowcraft plant that had manufactured outdoor patio furniture. Sanchez said the Piana plant has created 30 jobs, while the Chevron station will add another 15.

The mayor said the arrival of new business means not just jobs, but a greater offering of goods and services for residents who previously went out of the town to buy what they needed.

"Nothing is served by San Luis growing so much in population if we can't keep (residents in San Luis) and convince them to shop here, instead of looking for those services in Yuma or San Luis Rio Colorado."

New business investments notwithstanding, the mayor said City Hall may end the fiscal year in June with a drop in sales tax revenue, owing to recurring long lines of motorists waiting to cross the border from Mexico.

Sanchez and other city officials say the lengthy wait times at the border scare off Mexican consumers who otherwise represent a large or the largest portion of customers of businesses in San Luis. The Arizona border city officials have been lobbying the federal government to expand the downtown port of entry to handle more vehicle lanes, and to convert San Luis II, an east side border crossing that now handles only commercial tractor-trailers, to serve private vehicles as well.

"What is happening at the port of entry is going to affect us, and what is happening with the economy and with politics at the federal level is aggravating it," he said, referring to the government shutdown prompted by President Donald Trump's demand for funding from Congress for a border wall.

"In the last three months, dialogue about improvements to the ports of entry has stopped, but the lines (of cars) have increased, and the traffic doesn't move. Waits of three to five hours to cross in hitting our businesses," Sanchez added. "There is no reason for these lines. We have worked so much to advocate improvements to the ports, trying to progress, but it seems like we regress."

Sanchez said the city is preparing a letter to Trump in which it will spell out the city's concerns about the shutdown and lack of funding for port upgrades.

"Ultimately all the discussion has concentrated on the wall and on border security," he said. "We are going to be aggressive in reminding the federal government that ports of entry, tourism and business are also important."

Turning to another topic, Sanchez said the city's plans for 2019 include establishing, at least in temporary facilities, a police and fire department substation at a site near Avenue E to served the rapidly growing east side of San Luis.

Also planned in the new year is an expansion of the city-operated senior center, a project long sought to meet the growth in the number of clients.

San Luis, he added, will continue its collaboration with the cities of Yuma, Somerton, Wellton and San Luis Rio Colorado in 4FrontED, a bilateral effort to spur regional economic development.

"If we have been able to growth even with this situation of national uncertainly and with this economy, I believe that 2019 is going to be good for San Luis and the region," Sanchez said. "We have the infrastructure for new businesses, three (industrial) parks with land where industry can develop and huge growth in housing – perhaps not at the level of 10 years ago, but it is growing."

Yuma, AZ
Yuma AZ
www.yumaaz.gov
Somerton AZ
www.cityofsomerton.com
San Luis AZ
www.cityofsanluis.org
Wellton AZ
www.town.wellton.az.us
Calexico CA
www.calexico.ca.gov
El Centro CA
www.cityofelcentro.org
San Luis Rio Colorado MX
Mexicali MX
Cocopah Tribe
www.cocopah.com
Quechan Tribe
www.quechantribe.com