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AEDO Profile: The City of Scottsdale Economic Development Department
Eli Dile   on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 9:00:00 am

By Robert Caldwell, IEDC intern, Ohio State University

IEDC’s Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO) program recognizes the professional excellence of organizations in the areas of internal and external operations, structures, and procedures. This series profiles newly accredited AEDOs, putting some of economic development’s high-performing organizations in the spotlight.

AEDO member: The City of Scottsdale Economic Development Department (EDD), Arizona

Accreditation date: May 11, 2017

Distinctions: The Scottsdale EDD is the second AEDO in Arizona.

Organizational structure: The EDD is an operational department within the City of Scottsdale municipal government.

Leadership and staff: Danielle Casey, CEcD, EDFP, oversees 6 employees.

Mission: “To retain, grow, and attract targeted sources of wealth generation to enhance the community’s tax base and quality of life, preserve the natural environment, and foster prosperity for all citizens.”

Population: 237,000

Budget: $1.1 million for FY 2016-2017

Key focus/primary service areas:

  1. Retention and growth of existing businesses
  2. Talent retention and attraction
  3. Investments in present and future employment and business centers
  4. Build a Scottsdale business location brand
  5. Provide market analysis tools
  6. Elevate Scottsdale’s engagement in the national and international economic development arena

Highlighted accomplishments:

  • $1.5 billion total economic impact of projects
  • Average wage of jobs created or retained: $67,085
  • Launched the “Swipe Right Scottsdale” app to educate investors, brokers, companies, and talented workers about the benefits of living and working in Scottsdale
  • Creative use of zoning requirements to incentivize downtown development

Q&A with Scottsdale Economic Development Department Director Danielle Casey

Q: What does your organization do particularly well?

I am proud to say the City of Scottsdale’s economic development team is exceptional at developing and delivering creative solutions to business needs and challenges, with a focus on existing firms in our community. With only 5 percent of our metro region population but 17 percent of its corporate HQs , our team understands it has a high level of responsibility for retaining and growing these operations as a benefit to the region.

Q: What unique programs or initiatives does your organization carry out?

The Scottsdale Economic Development team offers companies specific workforce attraction  opportunities, such as exhibiting out of market to educate new talent in target occupations about the city. We also provide creative solutions to hiring managers, such as information to help them attract talent, welcome materials for employees new to Scottsdale, and seminars on talent strategies throughout the year. Additionally, we often provide public space for companies to use for hiring purposes if their facilities are undergoing renovations, so they can get up and running faster.

Q: What is the biggest challenge facing your community, and how does your organization work to address it?

The biggest challenge for Scottsdale is a lack of large Class A office space, a lack of shovel-ready property (as the city’s private property holdings are largely built out), and retaining companies that are doing so well they might out-grow our community. We are working to address this by partnering with the remaining large landholder of vacant property, the Arizona State Land Department, which has a time-consuming property disposal process. We hope this will reduce timeframes for future projects. In addition, we are using creative technology solutions to maximize use of free downtown parking to benefit employers and commuters.

Q: Why did you decide to pursue AEDO accreditation?

In the process of creating our strategic plan , we not only outlined a mission statement defining economic development for our community but also developed a vision statement for our department to achieve by 2019, which states: 

“The Scottsdale Economic Development Department ranks among the nation’s leading, best-of-class organizations and is recognized for its significant contributions to Scottsdale’s quality of life, economic prosperity, and global brand through its high-performing, certified professionals; innovative, focused, and solutions-driven approaches to support business and economic growth; and collaborative, proactive engagement of local, regional, and state partners in Scottsdale’s economic development.”

There was no better way to become a best-of-class organization and be recognized for a high level of professionalism than by pursuing AEDO accreditation. In addition, I am proud to say that in the past year two more team members earned their CEcD designation, which means half of our team is certified.

Q: What feedback from the AEDO Review Team did you find particularly helpful, and how do you plan to implement their recommendations?

Of particular note, the Review Team commented that our current office space – while a creative, fun location in our main public library – is a challenge for clients to find and can create the impression that economic development is not a top city priority. We agree with this feedback, as the current office location was necessary at a time when the city was forced to divest itself of several public facilities during the recession. To implement the recommendations, meetings have been held with the city manager, who is supportive of a relocation to a move visible and appropriate space within the municipal campus, and meetings are being held to create a coordinated relocation plan.

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