By Callan Smith | Social Media Coordinator Rose Law Reporter
The room was full and alive with pleasant conversation as attendees arrived to the May Pinal Partnership Breakfast at the Property in Casa Grande. Everyone filled their plates with a superb breakfast assortment before taking a seat to listen to the upcoming panel, discussing Jobs to Pinal!
The panelists included Tim Kanavel, who serves as the Economic Development Program Manager for Pinal County. Udo Cook, who is employed by Abbott Nutrition as a Technical Trainer and serves as the chairman to the Pinal County Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Board. Joel Millman, the Arizona @Work Pinal County Workforce Development Program Manager. And lastly, Chairman of Pinal Partnership Harold Christ, longtime Pinal County resident and co-owner of the Windmill Winery with his wife.
The panel moderator was Jordan Rose, Founder and President of Rose Law Group, longtime supporter of Pinal County and the partnership. Before the discussion began, a moment of silence was observed for Bob Flatley, former Coolidge city manager, who lost his fight with cancer. His absence was felt, as Rose recounted his smile and friendly demeanor.
Following the quiet, Rose went on to call on Kanavel. He began by talking about his role in bringing jobs and business together, growing Pinal County. He noted that current projects within the county are worth eighteen billion dollars and account for twenty-three thousand jobs, which does not represent all of the projects in Pinal County. He couldn’t give project details due to the need for privacy, noting non-disclosure agreements with businesses looking to locate within the county. What he could say was, “Great things are going on in Pinal County.” It was easy to believe his statement, based on the numbers and his enthusiasm for his work.
The next speaker was Cook, who spoke about being the founder of the fully volunteer organization Honoring/Hiring our Heroes of Pinal (HOHP), helping any Veteran in need of assistance with housing and jobs. Cook discussed the good that came from splitting up the Pinal County and Gila workforce boards, allowing the leadership in Pinal County to further development and growth. He further stated with enthusiasm that leadership within the county was not afraid to go after the future opportunities.
Millman was next to speak about his role as Program Manager for Arizona@Work Pinal County Workplace Development, where he coordinates a number of employment programs under Arizona@Work, representing the Department of Economic Security, community colleges and a host of other organizations. The program is grant based and the result of the national Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. He is tasked with serving the employer community and working with job seekers in Pinal County, under the guidance of Chairman Cook and the board of Supervisors. He noted one of the tools at his disposal is a statewide database of sixteen thousand resumes obtained from individuals collecting unemployment insurance. This data enables his team to better understand skills and skill-levels within Pinal County. Millman also works closely with Kanavel in determining whether the workforce is in place for potential Pinal County employers. Beyond the county wide focus, Millman facilitates a workplace solutions office, providing services to both employers and job seekers.
The last speaker of the morning was Christ, who spoke about the need to like what you do and where you live, which is anecdotally how he became a long-time Pinal County resident. He made mention of the dynamic evolution of leadership in the county that made it possible for the assembled group to come together. Christ also informed the gathering about the thirty-five to forty thousand yearly visitors that come to the Windmill Winery, which is the home of a 1910 barn moved from Wisconsin, and the growth of multinational tourism to Pinal County. Christ broke the news that his Winery would add a forty room boutique hotel projected to open in 2017. He also announced a partnership with Green Tree Hospitality Group, which operates GreenTree Inn, one of the leading hotel brands in Asia with over 1,400 properties. Christ went on to say that Green Tree purchased the old Holiday Inn in Florence, which was well-received by the attendees. He further talked about the good happening within the county, including forward thinking leadership and the 5.4% unemployment rate.
The discussion then moved to a question and answer session. The panel fielded questions about housing in San Tan Valley, income levels and employment. There was even mention of a job training center possibly coming to the county. As the meeting came to a close, it was clear that the future of Pinal County is bright, as attendee’s lingered sharing a combined partnership.