SIERRA VISTA – The Villages at Vigneto project along State Route 90 north of Kartchner Caverns State Park cleared its last major local hurdle when the Benson City Council voted in December to approve several special taxing districts.
The districts can impose special taxes on the property, just as a school or fire district does, and issue bonds to raise money for construction and maintenance of infrastructure needed to support the proposed 28,000-home project.
Those funds, along with equity investment by developer El Dorado Benson, will finance the master-planned community, which is expected to include retail, commercial and recreational facets on more than 13,000 acres.
The developer released an economic and fiscal impact study in fall 2015 that predicted Vigneto would generate $23.8 billion in direct, indirect and induced economic output from spending and sales throughout Cochise County over an 18-year construction period.
That’s one reason the Sierra Vista Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been such a vocal supporter of the project. The chamber is aligned with the Hispanic chambers in Douglas, Nogales and Tucson.
“We wholeheartedly support the Villages at Vigneto project and the many business opportunities it will bring to Benson, Sierra Vista and all of Cochise County,” said Daniel Valle, international director for the chambers.
The company plans to begin construction, mostly of infrastructure, later this year, said Mike Reinbold, who is heading up Vigneto for El Dorado Benson.
“Once we break ground a number of contractors, subcontractors, vendors and suppliers will be engaged to move the project forward,” he said. “For a project of this scale we’re going to need involvement from dozens of companies throughout Cochise County.”
The impact study forecasts Vigneto will generate $1.5 billion in tax revenues for a variety of taxing jurisdictions in the 18-year buildout. Of that, nearly $300 million would go to Cochise County and $140 million to Cochise College.
“The increased tax revenue will help improve and expand our higher education options, whether in Sierra Vista, Willcox or Douglas,” Reinbold said. “This will lead to better prepared graduates to move into new jobs created by Vigneto.”
Some businesses, including Five Star Painting of East Tucson — which is located in Sierra Vista — have developed business plans around the Vigneto project.
Five Star Painting franchises specialize in residential and light commercial work.
“When I was strategizing about my territory I knew that the Benson area would be growing with the big project on (Highway) 90, so I wanted that as part of my service area,” Alfonso Bodden, owner of the local franchise, said.
“I’ve structured our business plan as well as our customer service approach and vendor relationships to maximize opportunities as soon as construction up there begins,” he said.
While Bodden sees Vigneto as a way to springboard his new company, longtime business owner Lynn Mattingly sees Vigneto as an opportunity to keep his doors open.https://www.fivestarpainting.com/east-tucson/?L=true#~A0O4V51
Mattingly owns Weatherguard Metal Construction, which has 18 workers, and has found it difficult at times to generate enough work to keep them paid and maintain benefits.
“We need new customers, new projects in order to sustain our business,” he said. “And hopefully Villages at Vigneto will also lead us to grow so we can hire even more employees.”
While Reinbold is excited to have the support of these area businesses, he says Vigneto’s economic boost will be felt beyond the construction and real estate industries.
“It’s not just the different businesses we will work with that benefit,” he said. “Many more companies will see payoffs from what we’re planning because of the additional spending and jobs we’re bringing into the region.”
A business owner who agrees with Reinbold’s forecast of far-reaching impacts is Vera Gates Williams, who runs an event planning and tourism concierge company in Sierra Vista.
“New and existing companies across the region will be benefiting, whether it’s construction, retail, tourism, transportation or entertainment,” she said.
“I’m excited for what this project will do for Benson and all of Cochise County, because when people see growth or movement they want to be a part of it as well.”