INDIAN WELLS—President Russell Begaye on Friday helped break ground on a 10-acre shopping center along Navajo Route 6 in Indian Wells.
The groundbreaking ceremony, held on the side of the road and in the shadow of Bidahochi Butte, marked the start of a $4.5 million construction project that began Monday and promises to jumpstart the economy in Indian Wells and the surrounding area. It also marks the end of a long process to withdraw land and secure funding.
According to chapter officials, 25 acres of land near Indian Wells Elementary School was withdrawn in 2005. President Begaye approved $3.7 million in funding this year. Additional dollars came from the Navajo Nation Tourism Department.
The shopping center, which will include a gas station, convenience store and space for retail and small businesses, will be built on 10 acres, leaving 15 acres for future development. The center will be located along a major artery connecting the communities of Dilkon, Teesto, Greasewood Springs, Whitecone and Jeddito to the city of Holbrook and the I-40 corridor.
As he participated in the groundbreaking ceremony, President Begaye counted the vehicles passing by. He estimated more than 120 vehicles would pass the shopping center every hour.
“This is a heavily traveled area,” he said. “This place is going to make money and serve the people.”
A group of Navajo Nation Council delegates, chapter officials and citizens gathered Friday to witness the groundbreaking. In his remarks to the crowd, President Begaye encouraged entrepreneurs to set up small businesses in the shopping center.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Think about what kind of business you can bring in, whether it’s a restaurant or windshield repair. We need a lot of small businesses in places like this. That’s what will make the Navajo Nation grow.”