Business Report: Arizona – Ak-Chin Offering The Best Of Both Worlds In Arizona

By Business Facilities StaffAk-Chin Community Map.
From the July/August 2014 issue

When companies are looking at Arizona, they often start with the Greater Phoenix metro area. Those who look further can find a gem of an opportunity in a small Native American community on the southern tip of the Greater Phoenix area. Here in the midst of the growth corridor between Phoenix and Tucson, the Ak-Chin Indian Community offers the best of both worlds: access to all the advantages of the state and Greater Phoenix metro area, and an industrial site that has even more of its own.

Close to major transportation corridors and less than five minutes from the Ak-Chin Regional Airport, the 109-acre Santa Cruz Commerce Center, is an emerging commerce hub. Zoned I-1 and I-2, this shovel-ready industrial park is already home to egg producer, Hickman’s Family Farms; a farm equipment dealer, M&S Equipment; and soon, steel components manufacturer, Quail Run Building Materials.

Currently, the Commerce Center has about 40 acres of immediately available leasable lots for owner-built or build-to-suit projects. Below market lease rates, tax advantages, and low utility rates are enough reason to give this site a good look, but the concept of building on leased land is new to some. Bottom line, what this means is little to no upfront expenses or initial capital outlay, so a company can start turning profits faster.

Also, unlike some other Indian reservations, Ak-Chin has no allotted land, so a potential tenant only has to work with the Ak-Chin Industrial Park Board, not individual land owners. The Board reports to the Community Council, similarly to the process in any municipality. What’s more, the Community maintains its own Planning and Zoning Commission and Capital Projects Department, which can speed time to market with streamlined permitting and approvals.

Companies locating in Santa Cruz Commerce Center can take advantage of most of the state’s incentives and job training programs. In addition, a business on Native land may benefit from the Indian Employment Tax Credit, Accelerated Depreciation, and new Market Tax Credits. Companies in the Commerce Center also do not pay local or county sales taxes, taxes or adders on utilities, or real property tax on land used for commercial or industrial. Moreover, the Commerce Center is part of Foreign Trade Zone #75, which can reduce the cost on exports and imports.

What makes the offering at Santa Cruz Commerce Center truly unique has mostly to do with the Ak-Chin Indian Community itself. With less than 900 reservation residents, the Ak-Chin Indian Community has become an economic powerhouse, fueling much of the growth in western Pinal County. In fact, people who work in businesses located in the Ak-Chin Indian Community predominantly live in the adjacent City of Maricopa, where the population has grown explosively from 1,200 to nearly 45,000 residents in just 10 years. With 46% of Maricopa’s population holding bachelor’s or graduate degrees and relatively high concentration of engineers, the City has a unique demand for urban experience and small-town camaraderie—most of which has been stimulated by Ak-Chin.

In addition to its own economic development projects, like the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle and the Community’s new justice center, Ak-Chin also gave the City of Maricopa a $7.4 million gift for the multi-generational facility and regional park, Copper Sky Recreation Complex; and donated $2.6 million to the Maricopa Unified School District just in the last year. Ak-Chin has proven it is committed to developing its own economic self-sufficiency while also helping the surrounding region to thrive.

“At Ak-Chin, you’re just 32 minutes from all the services and amenities of metro Phoenix,” said Charles Carlyle,
Ak-Chin Industrial Park Board Chairman. “But we have the best of both worlds if a company is just willing to look at the opportunity that exists beyond the typical metro area.”