Business and community leaders will take a peek into the jobs of the future at the PHX East Valley Thought Leader Forum, Dec. 3 at Mesa Arts Center.

The event, the New Workforce: How Automation and Other Advancements are Revolutionizing the Way We Work and Do Business, will explore changing dynamics in business and predictions and trends on which jobs will stay and which will go.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow will deliver the keynote address and will be followed by a panel of experts who are working in jobs of the future today.

“Our region’s diverse economy is demanding that we look at things differently and recruit professionals with expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence, automation and the Internet of Things,” said Denny Barney, president and CEO of the PHX East Valley Partnership, which is hosting the event. “Our changing business environment also is creating opportunities to retrain and redeploy employees in jobs where they are needed the most,” he added. 

At the event, Berge Ford (now Larry H. Miller Ford Mesa) and Empire Southwest will receive the 2019 Corporate Legacy Awards for the indelible mark they have made on business and the region. 

“Both companies are generations in the making,” Barney said. “Their visionary leaders not only help drive our economy, but improve our quality of life, too.”

Berge Ford was founded by C.M. “Shorty” Berge and was a family-owned business for more than 75 years. Berge’s son, Craig, joined the business in 1962, which he grew into one of the top 100 Ford dealerships in the nation. 

Giving back to the community he loved was a priority for the younger Berge. He balanced his work with involvement in a host of civic activities, including Mesa’s Planning and Zoning Commission, the city’s Traffic Safety Commission, the PHX East Valley Partnership and the Roosevelt Water Conservation District. He also sold programs as a longtime member of the Mesa Hohokams, and he and his family have been generous contributors to a host of local charities.

Empire Southwest is a third-generation seller of Caterpillar and other heavy-equipment products that has grown into one of the largest private companies in Arizona. The company now boasts more than 2,200 employees at its headquarters in Mesa and other locations in the state and southeastern California.

Like the Berge family, the Whitemans have been a force for good. Empire Southwest donates at least 2 percent of its pre-tax profits to children-related initiatives. The Whitemans also have a history of championing causes such as early childhood education, health care and homelessness, and protections against human trafficking. And the family was one of the initial founders and contributors to Mesa’s i.d.e.a. Museum, which supports early learning, creative thinking and family engagement through art exhibitions and STEAM activities. 

The PHX East Valley Thought Leader Form is being sponsored by SRP, along with Southwest Airlines and CliftonLarsonAllen. Tickets are $75 for East Valley Partnership members and $85 for non-members. Ticket packages also are available for $1,250.

To register, visit