Nogales looking for a new economic direction following pandemic, border policies

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 6:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva was in Nogales to drop off a $750,000 check to the Nogales Community Development, an organization which is trying to jump start business development and innovation in its downtown.

Nogales has been hit hard economically in recent years by hostile border policy followed by the pandemic.

A once vibrant downtown, supported by cross border trade, has essentially dried up and business along a formerly bustling Morley Avenue has slowed to a trickle.

“I was seeing that the stores, some them now only were they closed, but they had everything taken out of them, all the merchandise,” said Nogales Mayor Art Garino. “Those are the ones that I worried wouldn’t come back.”

Downtown Nogales is one of the poorest areas in the state which relies on customers in Sonora to cross the border to shop.

But now, rather than totally rely on cross border trade, the town is looking to become more independent.

“Investing in the lives, the businesses, the culture, the art, the history of this unique, special place,” Grijalva said. “The borderlands, of which Nogales is an intimate part.”

The money will go the an organization which has been working for years to try to attract business and industry downtown without much success, Nogales Community Development.

“So I think it’s taking a turn, a community that is reinventing itself,” said the former NCD Executive Director Yvonne Delgadillo. “So its great to be part of that.”

The organization will use the dollars to built out a section of a formerly abandoned warehouse for a business development and economic incubator, where people can present and work on ideas for downtown revitalization.

“We’ve been sending letters out of my office to attract business to Nogales.” Mayor Garino said. “We haven’t caught anybody with a hook yet but I hope we can.”

The hope is the town can revitalize its downtown to the point where it can better absorb the unexpected issues created by Washington politicians or things like the pandemic and not rely solely on cross border trade.

“This place will never be as secure as we yell about unless you have a vibrant economy where families are secure and the economy is doing well and people are working<” said Grijalva. “And this is a drop, a drop in that direction.”

But for the folks here, the $750,000 is a pretty big drop.

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