By Mike Sunnucks | Rose Law Group Reporter
Jeanine Jerkovic knows her way around the economic development and site selection world. She’s been Economic Development Director for the city of Surprise since 2014 and recently won an ‘Economic Developer of the Year’ award from the Arizona Association for Economic Development.
Jerkovic, who has held economic development posts in Peoria, Glendale and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, has seen the impact of social media and crowdsourcing on site selections.
We caught up with Jerkovic to talk about that impact, her work in the West Valley and her recent travels.
Tell us about your recent award and what it means:
True to the name of my community, it was a ‘surprise’ to be recognized by the Arizona Association for Economic Development as the statewide Economic Developer of the Year in the large community category this year. Awards like these are such an honor, but it says so much more about the talented team that I get to work with each day both in the department and throughout City Hall, including the leadership that trusts our team to take an enormous vision and run with it.
What do you like most about your job and working in economic development:
This is a dream job for someone with a lot of interests in a lot of different areas. Working in a city like Surprise with so many great assets – and yet with tremendous room to grow – is always exciting and provides so many possibilities to shape a community’s success each day. I enjoy so many aspects of the job: problem-solving, helping new businesses grow, promoting the beautiful city in which I work, and creating a vision for success – and actually implementing it.
What are you seeing out there with site selections and jobs:
In the economic development world, we are definitely seeing the site selection process changing. For example, decision timeframes seem to be much more compressed than they used to be, possibly as a result of more online data resources, social media growth and even a ‘crowdsource’ approach to site selection, which we saw to some extent with the Amazon HQ2 process. Local brokers seem to also be driving the process more than we have ever seen in previous years. Workforce is still the top driver of projects, and touting the growth of Ottawa University’s new residential campus in Surprise and the growing West-MEC campus has been a tremendous benefit for us. In the last 12 months, a focus on cost of construction and infrastructure to support new projects has become a more significant factor, but this, too, can be tied back to identifying labor to support new projects.
You have traveled some lately, Where all have you gone and what was the most fun:
Our team focuses on Eastern Canada – mainly Toronto and Montreal – to develop business relationships, although our last visit was during one of the coldest winters over the last decade. This was humbling and made me appreciate the mild climate we have in Arizona and all we can offer businesses. Toronto is the most fun in my opinion from a business perspective – there are so many great places to meet people and a beautiful skyline. From a personal perspective, my family loves to travel, and just six months ago my husband and I visited Paris before we spent time in Serbia. We feel so grateful to have seen Notre Dame, and that trip had to be the most fun one recently.