In June, Michelle Rider was named WESTMARC president and CEO. On July 1, she officially replaced Jack Lunsford, who had held the post for seven years. For nine years, Rider has held key positions with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).
How is the West Valley economy fairing compared to last year?
The West Valley still faces the challenge of having lost 300,000 jobs in recent years, as well as being affected by the housing bubble. It has also had several recent wins for its economy with the addition of companies such as Sub-Zero in Goodyear and Gestamp Solar Steel in Surprise.
What needs to be done to help the West Valley’s economy get back on track?
The West Valley has an opportunity to attract new quality employers. Bringing major employers in will create new jobs directly, but will also help provide a customer base for struggling small businesses. West Valley community mayors and councils aggressively compete for these opportunities.
How do you think your work at GPEC translates to your role at WESTMARC?
Everything I have done at GPEC translates in some way to leading WESTMARC. I have worked with many of the public and private sector leaders through GPEC on projects including fundraising, public policy and stakeholder engagement.
What new initiatives or policies will you implement for WESTMARC members?
We are developing a new strategic plan. I am fortunate that WESTMARC’s leadership (board and executive committee) is dedicated to prosperity in the West Valley. We look forward to creating a clear, measurable road map to guide the organization.
What sets the West Valley apart?
Most of the next decade’s growth projected for Greater Phoenix will occur here. We have the opportunity to define ourselves by leveraging and managing that growth to provide quality jobs.