Safford, Arizona

Safford has long been dependent on others for its existence: jobs in a mining town 40 miles away, distant markets for its cotton. With the announcement in 2004 that Phelps Dodge (now Freeport-McMoRan) planned to open the first open pit copper mine in 30 years in Safford, came the promise of independence and unprecedented economic growth. The mine's construction filled local hotels (there are 10 new hotels open or about to open, double the original number in town) and boosted property values. It also encouraged growth in the town's commercial center, at the edge of town. One of the largest Wal-Marts in the country was built there, along with a Home Depot, new grocery stores, and many fast-foot restaurants. While the mine and the town's role as a regional center have bolstered its fringes, Safford's downtown is in a state of disrepair. Many of the buildings are vacant, with broken and boarded up windows. There are some exceptions: 70-year-old Thriftee Food & Drug, a block off Main Street, has Wal-Mart's expansion into a supercenter.

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Read more:

"Reluctant Boomtown"
in High Country News: The ups and downs of being a mining town.

Freeport-McMoRan: Safford Mine

City of Safford

Olney House Bed & Breakfast

Eastern Arizona Courier

Thriftee Food & Drug