The city of Ajo is one that almost shouldn't exist. After serving as the pet project of the New Cornelia (later Phelps Dodge) mining company for over 70 years, the company left town in 1985 after what would be the last in a series of wage disputes between the company and the union. Such a story is not uncommon in for the period in the United States. For copper mines in particular, the price of their primary product remained relatively stagnant for decades in spite of rising wage rates. Though, regardless of why, the closing of the mine was a significant blow to the town. Businesses that has been staples of the community shuttered, families that had been pillars of the town went in search of greener pasture, and the company decided to bulldoze two of the three historic neighborhoods (which happened to be those the mine segregated the Mexican and Indian workers into). Yet, the town persists.
In fact, it might be better be described as blooming. The town center is being reinvigorated by the International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA). They have taken back the old rundown buildings in the center of town and turned them into apartments, homes, studios, and new shops for the growing artist community. Most of the funding for this growth comes from grants, but the ISDA is confident that they will achieve financial independence. Their plan is strikingly similar to the mining company that once ran the town, sell the natural resources of the town to the highest bidder. Except instead of copper, ISDA plans on using the Sun.
With the Baby Boomers rapidly ageing, the need for retirement services is increasing at an incredible rate. In fact, it is one of the main factors contributing to Arizona's place as the fastest growing state in the United States. The community believes that as more and more people crowd up the cities that some will start coming out to Ajo and who can say their wrong. I for one will be excited to visit again, even if it ends up clogged with Snowbirds.