The ECoNA Advisory Council met recently with U.S. Senator Mark Kelly in a virtual session that covered the soon-to-be enacted American Rescue Plan and his work on Senate committees that have a direct impact on our region’s economy.
As a member of both the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Committee on Environment and Public Works, he said he will focus on protecting public lands and expanding infrastructure, such as broadband service.
“I know many of these priorities are doubly important for northern Arizona where the nexus of public lands and tourism are so critical to our economy and where infrastructure investments are needed, seriously needed,” he said.
Senator Kelly recently co-sponsored (with Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema) a bill that would prohibit uranium mines on public lands near Grand Canyon National Park. The bill is awaiting a committee hearing in the Senate. A similar bill passed the House last month.
Working on behalf of Arizonans through the legislative process is only part of how the Senator has been helping northern Arizona. During the virtual meeting he was thanked by several Advisory Council members for talking with UACJ Whitehall about what a great place Flagstaff and Arizona is for a business and all it has to offer new employers from quality of life for employees to an active business community with critical players like ECoNA.
The firm, based in Michigan, announced this week that it has selected Flagstaff for its new plant and will begin operations here next month. The facility, located in a portion of the former Walgreens distribution center, will generate 120 high-paying jobs to the area in the next year and up to 350 jobs over the next five years.
Much of the conversation during the Advisory Council meeting revolved around the American Rescue Plan, the sweeping $1.9 trillion pandemic relief legislation that was signed into law yesterday. It includes a third round of stimulus checks to be sent to most Americans, an extension of enhanced unemployment aid and additional money for COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution. It also provides funding to help schools reopen and assist both small businesses and local governments.
“I know how hard the pandemic has hit northern Arizona businesses and the economy,” Senator Kelly told the group, “and please know that I’m committed to being your partner as we try to navigate this together in a way that helps all of us come out successfully on the other side.”
Although the American Rescue Plan passed along party lines, Senator Kelly felt the only way to address future issues was through negotiation between the parties. He invoked the names of two predecessors – both Republicans – who exemplified that spirit of bipartisanship.
“The way we’re going to tackle these challenges is by finding common ground and working together as a team,” he said. “The legacy of this Senate seat, which was previously held by Senator John McCain, is one of independence and integrity. It was also held by Senator Barry Goldwater, and I think the same applies to him. Both of these senators were willing to work across the aisle to get things done.”
We are grateful to Senator Kelly for his time and advocacy for northern Arizona as we continue to work on the economic recovery of our region.