By Marina DeWit, Region 9 Advocate
Over 400,000 new businesses start up each year in the United States. While facing multiple challenges, there are many support mechanisms available to small businesses to help them stay on the road to success. It is highly beneficial to have suggestions and advice from other business professionals and even better to have a small business-friendly environment within the community that nurtures business growth through a prolonged commitment. One small city in Arizona invested in creating a business incubator to help develop ideas, grow the economy, and create jobs.
The city of San Luis in Yuma County is located in the Southwest corner of Arizona and has been a busy U.S. port of entry since the 1930s. Incorporated only 40 years ago with less than 2,000 people and a total area of 26.5 miles, it is the fourth fastest growing city in Arizona with the population exceeding 35,000 in 2018. Most of the city land is federally or state-owned with only 19 percent privately owned, making it difficult and slow to progress with “leapfrog development.” There is a post office in the middle of the city where residents go to get their mail since there is no postal delivery service available. San Luis has no property tax and relies heavily on sales tax for funding the local budget. Many small shops and dining spots are spread throughout the city. They hope to attract some of the more than eight million people that are processed at the border on an annual basis. For most, it’s a daily commute to work on U.S. farmland while living in Mexico. The city has been impacted by the political changes that affect the border security process. At times, it may take two to four hours to cross into the United States. Border closures drastically reduce the amount of people coming from Mexico to shop in the San Luis Walmart or spend their money at local restaurants and stores, thus reducing city tax income.