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Podcast Episode 47 - Economic Development in Arizona with Carrie Kelley

We hear from Carrie Kelly, the Executive Director of the Arizona Association for Economic Development.

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
3 min read
Podcast Episode 47 - Economic Development in Arizona with Carrie Kelley

Episode # 47 of the Econ Dev Show Podcast is now live.


Today's issue is brought to you by LocalIntel.

In this episode, Dane talks to Carrie Kelly, the Executive Director of the Arizona Association for Economic Development.

They discuss:

  • The economic development landscape in Arizona
  • Is Carrie an economic developer or an executive of a membership organization
  • The economic development stars in Arizona
  • Mentors and mentorships
  • How Carrie wants to make BR&E sexy

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Carrie on Economic Development

I always like to tell anyone who will listen, especially college and master's students, that economic development is the greatest profession.  Also, there are so many different paths in economic development that you can travel.  One of the most important things I would like listeners to take away is that there is a place for you in economic development, and it is important to find a mentor or mentor the next generation.

Carrie on Economic Development in Arizona

The transition from "recession Arizona" to "economic boom Arizona" is an interesting path.  The make-up of our state agency for ED is unique as well as the EDO GPEC.  While we are seeing success across the state, there is still a divide from metro to rural, and how we address that divide will inform our future state success.

We have the #1 and #2 EDOs in the entire world in Arizona, we have multiple accredited EDOs in the state, we have three IEDC board members on the IEDC board.  Not only do we have incredible economic developments in Greater Phoenix or Tucson, but across the entire state and in our rural communities.  That's no accident, and the Arizona Association for Economic Development is a big part of that success.

We had a recent ruling in Arizona that limited our use of incentives.  We've had interesting conversations about how we measure progress and what does the new economic development dashboard looks like.

Coming from a more rural community, I place a big emphasis on arts and culture in a community.  Sometimes the arts aren't brought into economic development discussions, but I absolutely think it has a place.  It also goes back to the discussion about understanding economic development and how we translate that to the public (and how it looks different in different communities).

Carrie's Favorite Book

The most influential book I've ever read is Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben.  I think this book came out at just the right point in my career and life.  This book helped inform a lot of my early ideas of economic development and guide my work in enhancing quality of life issues in smaller communities.  I have also had an interest in food security and agriculture (I'm from Indiana, remember), and ensuring local food supply chains and providing business opportunities from that chain in downtowns is close to my heart.

At my core, I am a rural economic and community developer.  A struggle early in my career and working in my hometown in Indiana was having people understand that economic development wasn't all about growth and bigger is better.  This book was also helpful in that process and something I tackle every day in my current position.

Carrie's Favorite Tool

A few members of AAED turned me onto OneNote, and I am in love with it for keeping track of my day-to-day.  Since I started at AAED (April of 2020), we have been operating virtually for the most part.  We utilize Slack and GoToMyPC (although we are getting ready to switch to SharePoint).  We also live by Canva.

One of my favorite resources for Executive Directors/CEOs of nonprofits is the Facebook group ED Happy Hour.  It's a place you can go to ask questions, share files, and look up shared files.  Many of the ED Association CEOs also get together frequently to talk about challenges, opportunities, and share information and documents.

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Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. By day: Director of Economic Development for Galveston County, Texas.