Question: Economic development is a community-wide enterprise. This issue’s cover story deals with the importance of factors beyond just attracting new business. How does your organization contribute to the bigger picture of economic development for our region?
Business United for Scottsdale Schools
We can help our local business community to recognize students as our best natural resource; they are the incoming workforce that will grow our economy. From the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 501.c.3 organization, our Business United for Scottsdale Schools (BUSS) workforce development initiative is providing methods for local industry to support our community college and school district. We will cultivate, develop and retain the talent we have here to expand upon and attract quality firms and jobs.
Locally, high-paying occupations in our identified BUSS “education to career” pathways are proving to be our largest employment segments and, based on the economic data, are leading in predicted growth. BUSS is focusing on our prominent Scottsdale employers for their support and engagement in developing higher skills in our incoming workforce: advancing industry support for internships, mentorships, employment and job shadowing; providing direct involvement programmatically, such as STEM/STEAM programs, robotics and computer coding programs.
We need innovation to improve education, as economic prosperity is directly linked to our schools since students are the future of Arizona’s workforce.
Passionate about promoting awareness of the importance education plays in driving economic development, Julie Brassell works in partnership with BUSS board members from local government and civic organizations and area business leaders.
Brian Cassidy, AIA
Warehouse District Council
Sector: Economic Development
The Warehouse District Council in downtown Phoenix, with more than 40 members representing businesses, property owners, residents and advocates, was formed in 2014 to promote, preserve, unite and plan for the future of the Valley’s most unique collection of character warehouses that were the backbone of Phoenix commerce in the early days of the city. The council advocates for the preservation of the existing structures in the area, and assists building owners and potential buyers in understanding how to preserve and/or adaptively reuse these structures for new creative purposes.
The council works with the City of Phoenix’s elected leaders and department heads to find workable solutions for zoning, parking, infrastructure and building code challenges that are common due the age of these structures. The council supports responsible infill opportunities that are abundant in the area, and will soon actively work with the city and Valley Metro to bring the next light rail line segment through the district as a connector and economic engine, and not as a barrier.
Brian Cassidy — who is also president and CEO of CCBG Architects — is a passionate advocate for creating livable, walkable, sustainable and exciting urban places that will continue attracting more people to move to central Phoenix and other urban cores. He has contributed to more than 10,000 multifamily units in the western United States and is working on more than a dozen infill projects in Phoenix.
James (Jim) Lundy
Chief Executive Officer
Alliance Bank of Arizona
A key economic driver and thought leader from our inception, Alliance Bank of Arizona is one of the banking divisions of Western Alliance Bank, the state’s largest locally headquartered business bank. We play a critical role in financing business expansion, with a specialized focus on affordable housing and other community support initiatives.
Our greatest contribution to economic development comes through our advocacy for education. Arizona’s relative per capita GDP has been falling, alongside per student spending on education at all levels for 38 years — so we consistently come up short in attracting and growing higher-paying jobs. Investing in education to create a workforce strong in critical quantitative and problem solving skills is key to Arizona’s future. The bank’s donation dollars are heavily skewed toward organizations that work to improve our educational outcomes from K-12 to community colleges and universities. As supporters of the recently passed Proposition 123, we advocate that businesses at all levels be open to collaborating with local and state government to initiate reforms that will better prepare students for a rapidly changing economic landscape.
James (Jim) Lundy is founding CEO of Alliance Bank of Arizona, established in 2003. He has worked in a variety of commercial banking positions in Phoenix since 1984. Lundy earned a Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor with distinction from the University of Arizona. He is immediate past chair and current board member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, with extensive service in other professional and community organizations.