Camp Verde is moving into a future that sees no conflict between growth and ecology.
On Oct. 4, Camp Verde Town Council voted to become a member of Arizona Forward, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to balancing economic development and environmental quality.
Arizona Forward partners with businesses, nonprofits, counties and municipalities toward ecologically sustainable ends, leveraging resources to encourage public perception and influence lawmakers.
The annual membership fee for a municipality under 50,000 people to be a partner is $1,000. Councilwoman Jackie Baker alone voted nay to allocating the amount, voicing concern that Arizona Forward might be duplicating services the town has already allocated resources toward.
“It will substantially increase your influence [and] it makes us aware of issues we might not otherwise know about,” Chief Administrative Officer of the Northern Arizona.
Regional Behavioral Health Authority Institute and Arizona Forward member Eric Marcus said, adding that Northern Arizona has traditionally fought with larger municipalities for resource allocation and attention.
“[This is] direct influence, connecting people; it’s really at the ground zero level [and] it’s a collective response. “You can have sustainable economic growth and still be environmentally sound ... I think you’ll find this is a really wise investment.”
According to Arizona Forward Director of Development Lisa Groves, the strength of the organization is the diversity of its membership, which includes all three state universities and major businesses like APS. Regionally, Yavapai College, Friends of the Verde River Greenway and the city of Sedona are partners.
Such a wide range of partners, Groves argued, equals broad leverage to set and achieve goals. “That helps us achieve more than we could alone,” Marcus said. “We’re not setting your agenda. We’re working with you ... We would look to your community development leaders and economic development leaders [and help] bring our leverage to bear.”
“The businesses around here could really benefit,” council member Brad Gordon said, adding that he has been to numerous of Arizona Forward’s events and found them to be wellorganized and useful. “They have a lot of resources .... That’s one thing the business groups could look into.”