Gardens are sanctuaries to help plants grow, and it’s the same principle the Industrial Development Authority of Sierra Vista (IDA), the City of Sierra Vista, and the Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce hope to champion with their co-working space, the Cochise Economic Garden.
Demetry Simonton, the President of Industrial Development Authority of the City of Sierra Vista, says that it will help support local nonprofits and businesses in the area by providing them with a free space to congregate and work.
“A lot of businesses just need a place sometimes where they can go,” said Simonton. “So just having a place to go that’s quiet and has the resources and equipment that I need, was a challenge, right? … Depending on where you’re at as a company, you know all those types of costs that can add up.”
It’s a partnership Simonton says involves the Industrial Development Authority of the City of Sierra Vista, the Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sierra Vista, and the Cochise County Superintendent of Schools.
Simonton says that Cochise County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jacqui Clay’s New Crossroads Academy — an accommodation school aimed at helping high-school drop-outs get their diplomas — will provide laptops for the facility.
“So, if you’re a business or a non-profit and you don’t have a laptop or computer, you will have that available to you,” Simonton said. “We have our Media Center where you can do video production, you can do audio recording, we call it the ‘Green Room’ … Of course, you have the desks, you have that space. We have an outdoor area now.”
Simonton says that the equipment was donated to them along with more than $21,000 worth of desks and cubicles from a Phoenix-based facility. He says the total cost of the project with the building renovation is around $60,000 dollars.
Simonton said the IDA issues Industrial Revenue Bonds on behalf of businesses. He said the IDA has issued more than $50 million dollars worth of Industrial Revenue Bonds over the past two years.
Simonton said those fees the IDA received from the bonds went into the Economic Development Fund — which was co-created with the City of Sierra Vista. He said those fees from issuing the bonds funded the Economic Garden.
The Sierra Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive Officer Melany Edwards-Barton said that space is limited for budding businesses.
“Although there’s a lot of businesses that are taking place virtually now, some still need a place to work and to meet,” Edwards-Barton said. “And so, in support of all of those young businesses out there — to give them that opportunity, a space where they can think, where they can collaborate — is very important.”
Tony Boone, the Economic Development Manager at the City of Sierra Vista, says that the goal of the Economic Garden is to improve the economic drivers in the area.
“It’s another compliment, another tool, another location — really — to go after this ecosystem at large,” said Boone. “If you take the Economic Garden, you take the (University of Arizona’s Center for Innovation’s) Incubator, you take the Pitch Contest that we’re working with Moonshot — another nonprofit out of Flagstaff — if you take all of those things in context, really that’s trying to stir the pot, trying to ignite the flame.”
“We all have a different role at a different time,” Boone continued. “But ultimately, it’s trying to improve the economic drivers in Sierra Vista and Cochise County.”
Simonton said currently the Economic Garden Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
“This is a great space where they can go and utilize that at no cost,” said Edwards-Barton. “It’s always difficult for young businesses; they don’t have the financial resources. And so, to have this opportunity, this space where we can refer them, and they can sit and grow their business there, it’s the perfect opportunity.”
Simonton added that the goal in the future is to make the Economic Garden a 24-hour facility, and added that he’s looking to apply for grants to finance key-code doors.
The Economic Garden is located around the East-side of the Catholic Community Services Building in Suite B at 6049 State Route 90.