Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011
Greater Phoenix Economic Council Profiles
GPEC Ambassador Chairwoman
Former Vice Mayor
City of Goodyear
As the wife of an Air Force officer, Georgia Lord has experienced myriad of cultures. Little did she know that while with him on assignment in Germany, she would get the opportunity to ride in a blimp bearing, coincidentally, the name of the city she later served as a city council member — Goodyear.
Lord was originally elected to the Goodyear City Council in 2005. Following her successful re-election in 2009, she was elected by the council to be vice mayor. At the end of 2010, however, she had to resign that position in order to run for mayor of Goodyear.
“I’m fortunate to be able to take complicated issues that are important to citizens, break them down in a way that allows us to address the impact of our decisions, and really consider the consequences our actions will have down the road,” she says.
Lord conducts these discussions with others outside of the Goodyear leadership, as well. In fact, she’s able to fuel her passion for Goodyear’s economic development through participation with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a venue that provides a sounding board for her ideas, and encourages interaction and support from other cities in the Valley.
“By working together as a team member of GPEC, we’re able to benefit from economies of scale and achieve our goals,” she says.
Lord is most specifically involved with GPEC’s Ambassador Program, which educates both the private and public sectors by highlighting the state’s strengths and the best ways to capitalize on them. Those education efforts, Lord explains, include tours of industrial facilities, workshops with industry experts, educational seminars and business training. She also participates in GPEC’s International Leadership Council, where she is able to draw on her past experiences overseas as she and other council members encourage foreign companies to invest in Arizona.
City of Mesa
Scott Smith is not one to sit quietly on the sidelines. So, when he became increasingly frustrated with the direction Mesa was headed in, he decided it was time to “put up or shut up,” and was successfully elected mayor in 2008.
One of Smith’s greatest challenges since taking office has been the state of the city’s economy.
“It’s not allowed us to pursue some of the opportunities we would have liked to be well down the road with already,” Smith says. “We know that the only way for us to recover is to create a business environment where the economy can grow and business can thrive, so we’re working diligently to create that kind of environment.”
Smith has found that his involvement with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) has been very helpful as he navigates the murky waters of the economy.
“Organizations such as GPEC that are focused on the region’s economic success are absolutely necessary tools for us to really experience the kind of success we think we are capable of,” he says.
The best way to build a successful environment, Smith says, is to identify a city or region’s strengths. The city of Mesa has done so through its HEAT Initiative — Health, Education, Aerospace, Tourism. Boeing, an important employer in Mesa, has received good news, Smith says, that will help solidify its position in the region, and MLB Spring Training continues to draw tourists to the state.
“If we can build upon our strengths … I think we can create a new or expanded economic base that will help us to grow in an organic and measured manner, rather than the boom-and-bust that we experience when we depend on growth as an industry,” Smith says.
Participation in GPEC and working with other cities, he adds, will be much more helpful for Arizona’s overall economy than a city trying to work its problems out on its own.