Business & Economy
According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, if Yuma County were a country, its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would rank 151 out of 192 countries. Yes, that's countries.
GDP is defined as the monetary value of all finished goods and services produced within a region's borders. Yuma's GDP for 2012 was calculated at nearly $5.4 billion. The government contributed $1.5 billion and private industries $3.8 billion. The three largest industries in the Yuma economy are agriculture, military and tourism.
Farm equipment working in one of the numerous fields in the Yuma valley
Undisputedly, agriculture is the number one industry for Yuma County. According to a 2013 University of Arizona study, agriculture produces an estimated $2.5 billion a year into the Yuma economy. This is due to our rich soil (sediments deposited by the Colorado River over millions of years), progressive farmers (who explore and utilize the latest theories and technology in their fields), sufficient labor (highly skilled and motivated work force) and senior rights to irrigation water.
Lettuce is the largest winter crop in Yuma, it is by no means the only one. There are over 175 different crops grown in the Yuma area year round! The list includes alfalfa, Bermuda grass seed, cotton, dates, lemons, melons and wheat. Desert Durum accounts for 95% of wheat grown in Yuma County, and about two-thirds of that is exported to Italy for use in making premium pastas.
Dates are a remarkable fruit and are another important piece of the Yuma Ag industry, just like all the other vegetables grown here. As long as people need to eat, farmers will continue to keep Agriculture the leading industry in Yuma.
Learn more about agriculture in Yuma HERE!
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter escorted by two FA-18 Hornets
The United States Military has been in Yuma for over 150 years. Today, it is the second largest industry in Yuma County as we are home to the Yuma Proving Ground and the Marine Corps Air Station – Yuma. With the arrival of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the military’s future in Yuma is bright.
The U.S. Army first came to the area in 1851, and established Fort Yuma on Indian Hill. The installation overlooked the Yuma Crossing, the aptly named low spot in the Colorado River, and it allowed for the establishment of the town site of what would later become Yuma. In 1864 the Army put up the Quartermaster Depot along the river. From here the Army oversaw the distribution of supplies to soldiers in the West.
MCAS has the F-35, and Yuma Proving Ground has the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. The purpose of this facility will allow special forces troops to train for air operations requiring free falls from airplanes. The facility opened in January of 2014 and, at 75 feet tall, is the largest in the world.
Yuma’s military roots are extensive, and those traditions will not be slowing any time soon.
Learn more about Yuma's military HERE!
A view through the gates of the Yuma Territorial Prison
Tourism is the third biggest industry in Yuma County. According to documents obtained by the Yuma Visitor's Bureau, 2014 saw $664.7 million in Direct Travel Spending. That income created 5,920 jobs, generated $15.6 million in earnings and $46.2 million in additional taxes.
Yuma has plenty to offer travelers and tourists alike. But there is no doubt that Yuma's winters are some of the best in the country and draw the majority of visitors between November and Aril every year.
Just how many winter visitors come tends to be an elusive number. At the peak of our winter visitor season, February, it is estimated we have about 80,000 visitors. February is the peak of the season as many places on the continent are experiencing some of their coldest temperatures. But no matter the numbers, they have a huge impact on the area. Consider that the City of Yuma's year-round population is about 94,000. Adding another 80,000 is a big seasonal influx of people to the community.
Today's winter visitors are not quite the same breed as they were 25 years ago. Our nation’s youngest retirees come to Yuma and are highly active! They hit the casinos, browse the swap meets, attend arts and crafts shows, patron local events and fill seats at concerts. They enjoy hiking in the desert, playing golf and fishing. They visit Mexico for medical and dental treatment and stay to linger over lunch and margaritas.
Learn more about Tourism in Yuma HERE!
Entrance to the Yuma Palms Regional Center
Mexican visitors spend an estimated $2.2 billion on food, clothing, entertainment, and other activities in Yuma County each year, according to a speaker at an economic forum in 2012. That represents more than 6 percent of all taxable sales. That spending directly supports more than 2,000 local jobs.