Fourth Quarter 2017

Bill - Newsletter

The Quick Jab

by Bill Jabjiniak

Mesa Office of Economic Development receives international accreditation

The City of Mesa Office of Economic Development was recently recognized as an Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO) through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). This is a prestigious accomplishment considering only 60 AEDOs internationally, or two percent of IEDC’s member organizations, have achieved this accreditation.

The AEDO program is a comprehensive peer review process that measures economic development organizations against commonly held standards in the profession. The program consists of two phases: a documentation review and an onsite visit. Each phase is designed to evaluate information about the structure, organization, funding, programs, and staff of the economic development organization.

I became intrigued with the AEDO program at the September 2016 IEDC Annual Conference in Chicago. It sounded like a great benchmark for our department. I saw the AEDO program as an opportunity to obtain an objective perspective to confirm the exceptional work we perform, and to receive valuable feedback to guide us in continuous improvement efforts.

After returning from the conference, staff began the first step of compiling our application. In all, 19 categories of documents were compiled including our strategic plan, organizational charts, job descriptions, budget reports, letters of support, executive resumes, and marketing collateral. Our submission included more than 400 pages and was submitted in December 2016.

After IEDC’s review during spring 2017, we were informed that we passed the initial phase and began preparations for a site visit with two IEDC reviewers. The three-day site visit took place at the end of July and provided an opportunity for the reviewers to see our organization in action. During the site reviewers’ visit to Mesa, we met as an entire staff, toured the City, presented at an Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) meeting, and conducted several meetings with more than 20 partners and stakeholders.

The highlight of the AEDO application process was the interaction during the site visit between staff, our various stakeholders, and the AEDO reviewers. It was a truly rewarding experience to hear the wonderful words and testimonials from our stakeholders. The IEDC reviewers left the site visit greatly impressed by the caliber of our staff and the true partnership we enjoy with our elected officials and other stakeholders.

Along with the formal accreditation designation, IEDC provided us with a report outlining specific strengths of our organization as well as some specific recommendations for improvement. The timing of this accreditation process is significant. As mentioned in the previous newsletter, we are now in the beginning stages of crafting our new three-year strategic plan. We look forward to incorporating the feedback we received into to our plans for the future.

Economic development is a team sport and we cannot do it alone. During last month’s annual IEDC Annual Conference, I met with representatives from the various AEDO organizations in attendance to review best practices for other high-performing organizations. Fellow AEDO organizations comprise a tremendous network that will be another great resource for us going forward.  Working together, with your continued support, we will work to grow and diversify Mesa’s economy by creating quality jobs for Mesa residents.


Metro Phoenix Export Alliance announces Export Challenge Pitch Competition with $25K grand prize

The Metro Phoenix Export Alliance (MPEXA) Export Challenge Pitch Competition is now accepting applications from Greater Phoenix-based companies to compete to win a top prize valued at $25,000, a second prize of $15,000, and third of $10,000.

MPEXA Export Challenge Pitch Competition is a tool intended to entice more companies to learn about and grow their export potential. Qualified and eligible new to export companies (NTEs) and new to market companies (NTMs) are invited to apply to the Export Challenge. Participation in the pitch competition will be determined by the quality of their application. Ten companies will be invited to participate in the Export Challenge pitch competition on December 5, 2017, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 2 N. Central Ave., Suite 2500 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Each grant award is to be used to cover eligible future export-related business expenses. Applications are due November 8, 2017 at 5 p.m.  The companies will have the opportunity to participate in a pitch practice session before the event. A panel of independent judges will judge the pitches and award the prizes.

MPEXA and the Metro Phoenix Export Plan are part of the Velocity Program and represent the culmination of over a year of collaboration between the Global Cities Initiative (a joint effort of The Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase) and metro Phoenix export stakeholders that are committed to building a stronger export-driven regional economy.

For more information, contact Ruth Soberanes at or visit






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ATSU hosts back-to-school health fair for children in need

A.T. Still University (ATSU) recently hosted approximately 200 children from local Title I schools for a back-to-school health fair on its Mesa campus. Children received free health, hearing, vision, and dental screenings, proATSU Screen Shotvided by ATSU students and faculty. The event was hosted in partnership with local nonprofit organization, Corbin’s Legacy.

During the event, children rotated through stations, including various health screenings, as well as fun activities like bowling and hopscotch. They also received gift cards for food and school uniforms, and enjoyed a hot lunch. Mesa Mayor John Giles made an appearance, as did ATSU’s mascot, Bucky the Ram of Reason.

Many children who participated in the event are uninsured or underinsured, and would not otherwise have access to critical health screenings. By addressing this basic need, ATSU and Corbin’s Legacy are preparing Mesa children for success, in and out of the classroom.

Read more.

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BenU Mesa faculty member lands $25K grant to help improve Mesa Neighborhoods 

When most people go to college, they aim for a degree that will land them the perfect job, the perfect income, and the perfect lifestyle.

Not Allison Boley. When she went to school, she wanted to learn how to make a difference. At this early stage in her career, the Benedictine University Mesa adjunct chemistry instructor has already reached a significant milestone by standing amongst the 40 groups that won a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant in September 2017.

The State Farm Assist is a yearly contest started in 2012 that follows three phases: first, users submit causes they think deserve a $25,000 grant. Next, the State Farm Review Committee narrows down the submissions to the top 200 and pairs them with nonprofit organizations that can help make them happen. Finally, the public votes to select the top 40 winners. Each winner then receives a $25,000 grant to be used to fund their specific project.

Boley suggested installing energy-efficient windows into low-income homes in the Mesa area. Doing so “reduces both the expenses of the neighborhood, as well as its energy usage and carbon footprint, implementing social justice along with sustainability and resilience,” according to her proposal. 

“My goal in Mesa is to simultaneously educate residents on how they can live sustainably and save money while doing it,” Boley said. “My plan is to basically go into these neighborhoods, give them something sustainable, and educate them at the same time.”

The next step requires selecting the proper neighborhood to install her windows; a neighborhood that meets specific criteria – one, that it be multigenerational, two, that it supports low income individuals, and three, that it be free of vandalism.

To learn more, contact Allison Boley at, or 


Affordable higher education critical to attract new business and enhance employee skills

Affordable and accessible higher education is a critical selling point in attracting new businesses, and retaining and growing companies that are already in Mesa. Northern Arizona University is helping employers train the next generation of business leaders by offering a Master of Administration degree at its East Valley campus located in Downtown Mesa. It is a great opportunity for middle managers, or those aspiring to move into a leadership position, to cultivate their skills. Mesa residents can choose from a variety of emphases to best suit their career interests – public management, project management, justice studies, and leadership. Classes are offered at the NAU East Valley campus in Downtown Mesa and online. Most classes are offered in eight-week sessions to accommodate working adults.

Contact NAU at 800-628-0040 or to learn more.

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MCC paramedic program earns CAAHEP accreditation
MCC Paramedic

Mesa Community College’s (MCC) Emergency Medical Services Paramedic Program has earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Onsite reviews were conducted by the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP) and CAAHEP’s Board of Directors. MCC’s program was recognized for the highest levels of compliance with the nationally established accreditation standards.

Onsite reviewers noted exceptional faculty and staff. Reviewers also reported they had rarely seen a team so robust and dedicated to the success of their students, while keeping a patient-centered focus.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a growing shortage of EMTs and paramedics. Along with certification and licensure, accreditation assures graduating students serve the community as well-prepared, qualified professionals.

“I am proud that this accreditation found our program to be in substantial compliance,” Sean Newton, MCC Occupational Program Director for Paramedic Education, said. “The process was long and challenging, affording us the opportunity to collaborate with some of the best minds in the business.”

For more information, visit

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Wilkes University offers Mesa residents discounted tuition for accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program

Wilkes University continues to support City of Mesa employees and residents in their pursuit to complete an online bachelor’s degree at an affordable tuition. City of Mesa residents and employees, and Mesa Chamber of Commerce members are eligible for tuition discounts.

Wilkes University offers accelerated, seven-week sessions enabling students to complete their degree and continue working full time. The Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program is now available with a concentration in school business. The program is designed specifically for individuals working in school business and who wish to complete their bachelor’s degree and earn a certificate along the way.

Concentration courses include: Optimizing School District Operations; Statistics and Data for School Business; Managing School Business; and Information Technology for Schools.

Mesa students at Wilkes University will benefit from a full-time, senior faculty member who will mentor and advise students from the Mesa Center for Higher Education, at 245. W. Second St. in Mesa.

Learn more at, or call Kelly Allan at 480-878-4314.


Falcon Field receives grants for Airport Master Plan and $3.9M in improvement projects

Fall 2017 marks the beginning of major improvement projects at Falcon Field Airport.

Falcon Field Airport has been awarded a grant of more than $520,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to update its Airport Master Plan, which has a total estimated project cost of $571,620. The master plan assesses airport facilities and industry trends and guides future decisions about development. It will help identify airport capital improvements for the next 12 to 15 years.

The FAA has awarded Falcon Field Airport a $1.8 million grant for upgrades to airfield lighting and signage, and the Airport has applied for a grant of more than $89,000 from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for the $2 million project. Construction is anticipated to begin in late fall and be completed in spring 2018.

Renovation of Falcon Field Airport’s aircraft washing facility is underway. The $800,000 project will include a new 3,000-square-foot covered and lighted drive-through, self-service bay and an additional 3,000-square-foot open-air wash bay. Construction is expected to be completed in January 2018.

Falcon Field Airport has completed upgrades to one of its historic World War II hangars in preparation for Precision Heli-Support’s move into the facility this fall. Heli-Support will complete its own improvements to prepare the facility for helicopter maintenance, repair, and overhaul services. A second historic hangar at the airport also is receiving new paint and windows. The total cost of upgrades to both hangars is $594,000.

Falcon Executive Aviation, the full-service, fixed-base operator at Falcon Field Airport, continues progress on construction of its new 12,000-square-foot hangar that will provide short-term storage for corporate and private jets. The facility is scheduled to be completed this fall and will be a welcome addition to the services offered at Falcon Field Airport.

AerialSphere web tool helps locate Falcon Field Airport servicesFF3

Falcon Field Airport has introduced a new web-based tool to help aviators and Mesa residents find businesses and services on the airfield. The interactive AerialSphere tool at  gives users a 360-degree bird’s eye view of Falcon Field. Clicking on a business name in the categorized side menu places a flag on a businesses’ location and displays the businesses’ contact information.


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Visit Mesa wins national award and statewide marketing competition

Visit Mesa’s destination marketing efforts won national recognition at this year’s annual U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) held in August. Each year, state tourism organizations and DMOs from across the country gather for this leading professional development conference. Visit Mesa won the 2017 Destiny Award in the category of Digital Campaign, calling out the 360-degree video effort that featured Mesa’s adventure, culinary, and family lifestyles.

“This changes the game,” Visit Mesa Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kimberly Freer said. “Earning praise from this esteemed organization tells us people are taking notice of what we are doing and that we are effectively delivering on the brand promise of our destination. It means so much to have Visit Mesa be recognized at this national level.” The Destinations Council Destiny Award program recognizes U.S. Travel destination members for excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing and promotion. 

This national award comes just a month after Visit Mesa won ‘The Grand Pitch’ prize, a statewide competition sponsored by the Arizona Office of Tourism and promoted at the Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism in July. Visit Mesa won the contest in the Urban Destinations and Attractions category with our entry on Limitless Geo-Tagging. The idea was born out of a hash-tag element being incorporated into the new Adventure Explorer Guide, inviting in-bound consumers exploring our destination to tag their location with a special branded hashtag that will be promoted through social media channels by Visit Mesa. The Grand Pitch campaign earned Visit Mesa a collection of media buys in national outlets including digital placements with National Geographic magazine, Outside magazine, Matador Network, Pandora Radio, Outdoor Project, TripAdvisor, and TravelZoo. The total media buy will add $117,000 worth of national marketing spend for Visit Mesa this fiscal year, and will help to drive a greater number of visitors to Mesa.

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Arts and culture in Mesa make an impact

Mesa nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences contributed nearly $30 million in direct economic activity in 2015, supporting 1,024 full-time jobs and generating almost $3.1 million in local and state government revenues, according to Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, a national study conducted every five years by Americans for the Arts. Compared with the 2010 findings, AEP5 shows an increase of $4.5 million in total economic impact in Mesa, growth in overall attendance by 100,000 visits (719,470 in 2015), and the addition of over 170 jobs.

Cindy Ornstein, Director of Arts and Culture for Mesa, stated, “Impact of the arts and culture industry in Mesa is seen in increased activity and burgeoning development efforts in and around Downtown. Developers cite the growing arts scene as a major catalyst for their interest in Mesa. With the recent groundbreaking of Artspace Mesa Lofts and new development projects being planned, it is clear that a creative environment and arts offerings are viewed as assets for a successful urban center.”

“Growth in attendance in recent years reinforces that there is a strong desire for arts experiences and opportunities in our city,” Mesa Mayor John Giles said.

For more information, visit