Eloy, Arizona is a town of about 16,000 located 50 miles northwest of Tucson. Mark Benner is the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and Mark took advantage of our Tour of Empty Buildings Toolkit. I was in Tucson for Chamber professional development and had the opportunity to head to Eloy to meet with Mark and his team and discuss how they could utilize the Toolkit.
Eloy is spread out over approximately 100 square miles with 145 people per square mile. There are about 2,000 families living in Eloy. Of those, 58% are Hispanic, 5% are African American, 4% are Native American and the rest are White.
Of that population of 16,000 half are in the correctional system, which is the largest employer (1,550 employees). The school district is the next largest employer. Republic Plastics and Otto Industries are the only industries – everything else is tourism or service related employers (restaurants/sky dive center/gas stations).
I share this information to paint a broader picture of the community. Most people either work for the prison or the schools. There is no real strong downtown area, just a few small shops. There is definite possibility, but right now most people just drive over to Casa Grande for their groceries and shopping. Housing is spread out and either low income or very nice – not very much for the middle income at all.
The question I must ask, who are the champions? Who will build possibility back in this town? Who will create community?