Intelligent Planning Process Takes Time, Avoids Chaos

by Tim Kanavel, Program Manager, Pinal County Economic Development

The one question I get asked by a lot of people, and I do mean a LOT of people, is why companies like Lucid, Attesa and Nikola are not up and running “right now.”

Believe me when I say that I completely understand where this question is coming from when it comes to timeframes. First of all we have had a few projects in the area that have announced they were going to begin operations in Pinal County, only to fizzle out. Secondly, it is in our nature to want something now and not later.

In the world of economic development, the process from announcing to actually putting a product out is just that – a process.

It would be nice if the timeline was much, much shorter. But in reality, there are several steps to go through before a company can even break ground on a project. That, my friends, is the business of intelligent planning. Without this planning and zoning process we’d have complete chaos when it comes to what is being built and where it is being built.|

Let’s go through a hypothetical situation. Company Tim wants to build hot-rod motors in Pinal County. Now these are going to be LOUD, 1,000 horsepower engines that will need to be tested before they go to the public.

Without the planning and zoning process, they might be able to place my plant in the middle of a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood. Company Tim would be able to test our engines at any time, day or night. They would be able to have semi-trucks (Nikola perhaps?) carrying the parts we need, come through the neighborhood at any time day or night.
It already doesn’t sound appealing, does it?

That, in a nutshell, is why we have a planning process.

In the case of Company Tim, they would have to find a parcel of land in Pinal County that is, or could, be zoned for industrial use. Next after purchasing a promising piece of land, they would have to go to the county or city (depending on location) and apply for a zoning change if that isn’t already industrial-use property.

OK, so the property is zoned. Can they build now? No, not yet. Company Tim would then have to go to the governmental agency and submit plans for their plant. In that time, they would have to get an air-quality permit (in case of any emissions), work with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in case of any potentially hazardous chemicals that might be needed, work with the Arizona Department of Water Resources to make sure there is enough water to be supplied to the plant and work with the local transportation authority to make sure roads are available for the semis and the workers to get in and out without hampering the normal flow of traffic in the area.

It may seem like a lot, but trust me, I only covered a 10th of what needs to occur to go from announcement to production. The reason why we have these processes in place is to protect you from any potential for harm that may occur when it comes to starting up a new company.

Just as a note, when Pinal County met to develop our strategic plan for the first time, we fleshed out our process of Priority Express Processing. The County is committed to streamlining, where possible, it’s Specific and Commercial Site Plan Review Process. This is a comprehensive review that recognizes that companies need to relocate, expand rapidly and efficiently.
While it may take some time to go from announcement to production, trust me, it is well worth it.