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CASA GRANDE — At least 28 development projects, worth about $2 billion and 9,000 jobs, have been proposed for Casa Grande since July of 2019, a city official says.

Casa Grande Economic Development Director Richard Wilkie gave an update Thursday to the Pinal Alliance for Economic Growth on the new industry interested in moving into the city or investigating that.

Some of those projects, such as Lucid Motors and Nacero, are under or preparing for construction and others are still proposals that may or may not come to fruition, he said. Lucid Motors plans to have its initial plant finished and start manufacturing vehicles before the end of the year, he said. The city is working on an agreement to sell effluent water to Nacero, a company that would make gasoline from natural gas. The company is also working on getting a grant to build a bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks near its building site on the west side.

The list also includes three new hotels, five industrial projects, three commercial projects, five restaurant projects and two businesses that are planning to expand. Wilkie didn’t give specifics on what all of the projects were. He did say that the new Clean Freak Car Wash and a Best Western Hotel, which are both currently under construction, are part of the list.

Wilkie also said during the organization’s virtual annual meeting the number of permits for new homes continues to grow in the city and may have even exceeded the number of home permits that Maricopa issued last month. The city is also working with developers on bringing in more multifamily projects to increase the city’s supply of apartments and other multifamily units.

Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland reported that the city has collected input from residents on what the city should use the money it received from the CARES Act toward. Some possible uses include funding for local food banks and assistance to help residents and businesses with their utility bills, rent, child care costs or internet bills.

The city has also partnered with the Greater Casa Grande Chamber of Commerce on a “Buy Local” contest, he said. Residents who buy a $15 Casa Grande T-shirt and then post a picture of themselves standing near one of Casa Grande’s monument signs or local attractions can be entered to win prizes from local businesses.

The alliance also got an update on the progress of the AARP Experience Corps Foundation’s third grade literacy project for the Casa Grande area.

The literacy project is designed to partner volunteers over the age of 50 with third grade students who are struggling to learn how to read, said Tonya Wiley-Robinson from AARP’s Experience Corps Foundation. AARP, the city of Casa Grande, Achieve Pinal and the Casa Grande Elementary School District partnered to bring the program to the city.

This would be the first time AARP has brought the program to a rural area, she said. It is set to launch, as a virtual program, at the start of the school year this fall. It will also be the first time that AARP has tried to run the program virtually, Wiley-Robinson said. The hope is to eventually expand the program to schools throughout Pinal County.

The program will first be available to students in three Casa Grande elementary schools: Cottonwood, Evergreen and Saguaro, said Jerry Stabley from Achieve Pinal, which is part of the Pinal Alliance. The program will serve 100 to 150 students in its first year.

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