The Arizona Association for Economic Development has been a community of practitioners who have worked through four decades to improve business attraction throughout the state. Every year, AAED awards Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence (EDDE) awards to those who keep the nonprofit organization at the top of its game and those who best uphold the three pillars of AAED membership. This year’s winners were recognized at AAED’s Spring Conference in Prescott on May 7.

William Lampkin Award: Robert Riley, Kingman Industrial Park

This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to economic development and AAED.

Robert Riley
Robert Riley

Robert Riley was a member of AAED before it was AAED. As one of the founding members of the Arizona Associate of Industrial Development (AAID), he may be one of the few economic developers in the state who have actually worked and known the namesake of the award.

Riley moved to Arizona from Chicago to become Kingman’s first in-house city planner. A few years later, he became the first airport manager for Mohave County Airport Authority, where he is credited for the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park development. Since then, he has worked for Prescott, Chandler, Glendale and Bullhead City. In 2002, decades after becoming an Arizonan, Riley has returned to Kingman Industrial Park. There, Riley’s work has contributed to an economic impact of 1,889 jobs, $75,481,000 in wages and output of $221,498,000. With more than 30 years of AAED membership, he has held many roles within the organization’s leadership.

“Bob’s name isn’t on any of the projects he has worked on, but his fingerprints are all over the state,” says Bennett Bratley, director for Mohave County EDD. “The creation of jobs and tax base diversification is his legacy in the state.”

Colleagues statewide endorsed Riley’s receipt of the award — some simply call him Obi Wan, others a mentor who can always be counted on for advice.

“He has always been and continues to be the ultimate economic development professional,” says Pinal County Economic Development Director Tim Kanavel.

Large Organization of the Year: City of Scottsdale Economic Development Dept.

Everyone loves a Cinderella story.

“After a long absence, the Scottsdale Economic Development Department has become engaged as a leader in regional activities and initiatives, such as the advancement of the Cure Corridor and has dramatically increased its services and programs offered to existing firms, visiting more than 150 Scottsdale companies since July 2013,” notes Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane.

Yes, Scottsdale’s Economic Development Director, Danielle Casey, was the 2014 AAED president. However, all five economic development practitioners on this year’s winning large organization of the year are active AAED members. They sit on the board, committees and developed a CEcD preparation guide and classes to help aspiring economic developers study for their career-defining exam. The department’s members also represent AAED on a national scale through its partnerships with the Council of Development Finance Agencies, which is comprised of 300 public, private and nonprofit development entities. Scottsdale’s team helped bring the annual CDFA conference to Arizona.

The department was directly involved in securing Scottsdale locations of Weebly, Zenefits and Orion Health in the last year.

Small Organization of the Year: Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA)

The small organization of the year winner must have fewer than 25 employees to be eligible.

When more than 370 Flagstaff residents were laid off by Walgreen’s, the Coconino County Career Center mobilized a Rapid Response Team to assist. When talent is hired by incubator Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, ECoNA helps trailing spouses and partners also find work in the region. These are all through partnerships with the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA) — a regional economic development organization supported by 16 public, private and nonprofit agencies in Northern Arizona. ECoNA attracted more than 700 jobs to Northern Arizona and $30 million in economic impact in 2014. To put this in perspective, 300 jobs in Flagstaff is equivalent to about 8,905 jobs in the Phoenix Metro. ECoNA also added the city of Winslow to its membership.

“The revolutionary approach of ECoNA and its leadership team cuts through barriers and turf that can slow down or stop a fast track response to business attraction, retention or expansion,” says M. Carol Curtis, director of Coconino Career Center. “Thanks to the hard work and foundation for success that has been created by ECoNA, we can be sure that the right partners will be on the team for any significant economic development initiatives in the region.”

Economic Developer of the Year, Large Community: Mike Hoover, Surprise Economic Development

Mike Hoover
Mike Hoover

For the last five years, Surprise has been shifting its development focus from residential to commercial. The result has been an attraction of nearly $200M in new industry development.

“(It transforms) the bedroom community into a premier location for business,” says Jennifer Graves, economic development manager in Gilbert. In 2014, Hoover’s key projects included business with Cobalt Medical, Iris USA, Janus International, Southwest Products and Park Skyway development, West-MEC and MD24, the AZ TechCelerator’s first graduate.

“Mike never forgets that he represents the city of Surprise first and foremost, but he is a wonderful regional partner and lends his knowledge and experience to economic developers throughout the West Valley,” says Goodyear Economic Development Director Michelle Lawrie.

Economic Developer of the Year, Small Community: Vincent “Skip” Becker, LaPaz EDC

There’s no question whether the chicken or the egg comes first in La Paz County these days. It was announced in October the nation’s second-largest egg producer, Rose Acre Farms, would open a 2,600-acre farm and bring 3 million hens to La Paz County, thanks to Vincent “Skip” Becker’s work in the Economic Development Corporation. After all four phases of that development are complete, the project will have included a $300 million to $400 million capital investment. Becker’s department closed other public and confidential deals in 2014, and in his work over the last 15 years has brought increased power from APS to many locations in the county.

Member of the Year: Deirdre Booth-Gilmore, Tank Girl Marketing

The award is given for significant commitment to AAED through active participation.

In 2014, AAED celebrated its 40th anniversary with a makeover. Its sleek new logo and color scheme wouldn’t have been possible if Deirdre Booth-Gilmore hadn’t taken the reigns of the branding initiative. Booth-Gimore owns her own marketing business, though she intentionally took her company out of the running for the branding bid in order to chair the task force.

“This was above and beyond her role as a board member and committee liaison,” says 2014 AAED President Danielle Casey. Booth-Gilmore was also responsible for reinventing the format of board retreats by launching a more strategic, outside facilitation the last two years.

“It has been my observation that she contributes the same high level of quality, skill and professionalism to her volunteer work at AAED as she does when working as a paid consultant,” says 2013 AAED President Eric M. Larson.

“Deirdre is my role model of a fantastic AAED member,” adds Shannon Simon, an associate in business development at HKS.

New Member of the Year: Dawn Rogers, Coreslab Structures

New members have joined between July 2013 and December 2014.

Dawn Rogers12
Dawn Rogers

Based on the number of AAED committees and events Dawn Rogers is involved with AAED, it’d be hard to believe she’s a new member. She is a member of the Professional Education (PEC), Events and Spring Conference Planning committees. She also headed an academy course for AAED in March and attends programs in northern Arizona and Tucson.

“Since attending her first AAED luncheon, when she joined the membership committee, Dawn hasn’t looked back,” says RSP Architects’ Michelle Schwartz.

Rogers’ vast network of contacts has also helped AAED and the production of high quality education sessions, notes Sammi Curless, vice chair of the PEC.

Workforce Practitioner of the Year: Stan Flowers, City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department

This award recognizes overall workforce impact, development of relationships, innovation and creativity and contributions to overall economic and workforce development profession.

One course shy of completing his AAED ED Professional credential, Stan Flowers is the One-Stop coordinator for the city of Phoenix Workforce Connection (PWC) Investment Area. Through One-Stop Centers, nearly 35,000 job seekers were assisted, says Phoenix Deputy Director Cynthia Spell Tweh. More than 57 percent of occupational training to youth and adult customers were in health care, advanced business services, high-tech manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience and IT. Additionally, the Phoenix Business and Workforce Development Center (PBWDC) “enhance Phoenix’s competitive position,” Spell Tweh says.

“Stan has been instrumental in developing an efficient and smooth running system within the city of Phoenix but also within Arizona,” says Kimberly Faust, youth workforce development supervisor at the city of Phoenix.