Third Quarter 2017

Bill - Newsletter

The Quick Jab

by Bill Jabjiniak

Recent economic development successes inspire future planning efforts

 As of June 30, 2017, another fiscal year has come to an end. Looking back on the previous 12 months, Mesa’s Office of Economic Development (OED) is celebrating positive results from staff efforts assisting companies, expanding businesses, and creating high quality jobs.

Before the beginning of each fiscal year, staff reviews the goals and objectives defined in Mesa’s Office of Economic Development Strategic Plan. While we measure 15 key activity areas year over year, there are four primary categories that are considered industry standards to track success: number of jobs created and retained by the companies OED assists; the average annual wage of those jobs created or retained; total capital investment; and the total square footage of commercial space. The results recorded for these measures are based on the project or company announcements.


During the last four years, the OED target goals have continued to increase, and we have continued to meet or exceed our target goals in nearly every category. The last four fiscal years, we have assisted companies locating and expanding in Mesa and those companies have announced creating or retaining 8,953 jobs, more than $4 billion in capital investment, and the construction or absorption or more than 6,630,000 square feet.

These results are tracked on a fiscal year basis (July 1 through June 30) and represent announcements from companies during the past four years including Apple; Bridgestone; Dexcom; DuPont Fabros Technology; EuroContempo Cabinetry; Niagara Bottling; GECO Inc.; National General Lender; Santander; and others that have chosen to locate or expand in Mesa. Economic development staff only track and record the projects with which we assist. These results cannot be accomplished in a vacuum, nor without partners, including the Arizona Commerce Authority, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, commercial real estate brokers, developers, and many others.

Currently, we are in FY 2018, and the third year of Mesa’s FY 2016-2018 Economic Development Strategic Plan. We look forward to achieving, and hopefully surpassing, the following goals during the next 12 months.

 City of Mesa OED Performance Measures: FY 2017-FY 2018
  Number of Jobs Created/Retained
  Annual Wage of Jobs Created - Announced
  Total Capital Investment
  Total Square Footage Constructed/Absorbed

*Wage targets are set at 125% of the County Median Wage, as determined by the Arizona Commerce Authority.


Stay tuned for future updates as staff begins developing the next three-year Strategic Plan for FY 2019-2021. In preparation, we will examine Mesa’s industries of opportunities, economic activity areas, key economic indicators, external and internal factors, challenges, opportunities, and more. We will carefully consider our past performance, as well as the City Council’s strategic initiatives and the role economic development plays in supporting those initiatives. This comprehensive analysis and inspired vision from management and elected officials will help drive the goals, strategies, tactics, and performance measures for Mesa’s sustainable future.

Thank you for your support. Please contact me with questions or comments. I look forward to hearing from you at

For additional information, visit our website at

Local entrepreneur Milt Miller thrives at city-owned AZLabs in Mesa’s Gateway area

Milt MillerMilt Miller, local entrepreneur and President and CEO of Trident Military Systems, LLC, has been achieving great success in Mesa’s Gateway District. Trident, a veteran-owned small business, specializes in military simulation hardware design and construction and long-term software sustainment of simulator systems for government clients. Located at the City of Mesa’s Arizona Laboratories for Security and Defense Research (AZLabs), Trident occupies approximately 10,400 square feet of office, fabrication, and maintenance spaces and an additional 5,600 square feet of the highest security level facility space.

Miller was not always an entrepreneur. He began his career in the United States Air Force and graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in Engineering Management followed by an MBA from University of California, Los Angeles. Miller flew A-7Ds and F-16s for the Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and as a captain for Southwest Airlines. According to Miller, what sets Trident Military Systems apart from competitors is the company’s focus on providing exceptional value to government customers.

Miller also credits much of his success to Mesa’s business environment, specifically the city-owned real estate he is leasing. “The ability to lease the secure facilities within AZLabs has allowed us to successfully compete in an environment previously dominated by the largest Department of Defense simulator contractors. Without AZLabs, there simply would be no Trident.”

The risks Miller took have paid off. With a backlog of three years of specialized work in military simulator hardware and software development, Miller will not be slowing down any time soon.

For more information, visit or

City launches interactive website to gather ideas to make Mesa a better place to live, work and play

imagine mesaImagine Mesa is an interactive, digital forum that allows those who live, work and play in Mesa an opportunity to share ideas and collaborate online in an enjoyable manner. The City of Mesa wants to hear your ideas for taking Mesa to the next level. Use your imagination to create solutions and opportunities for Mesa. From parks and libraries to job creation and a vibrant downtown, share your ideas for making Mesa’s economy thrive and neighborhoods safe. Visit to share your suggestions.

Economic Development Advisory Board recognizes Terry Benelli for service

At the June 2017 City of Mesa Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) meeting, Terry Benelli wasBenelli recognized for more than six years of distinguished service as a board member. Terry also serves as the executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Phoenix. Previous to her role at LISC, Terry served eight years as the executive director of Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO), a prominent micro business lender in Mesa and the Greater Phoenix Valley. In addition, Terry was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Mesa City Council in 2014.

“It is with great appreciation that we thank Terry for her service rendered to the EDAB board,” Mesa Economic Development Director Bill Jabjiniak said. “Her broad experience, especially in community and economic development, has been an important asset to the board and to the City of Mesa.”

Terry is a longtime Mesa resident and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University. Terry earned a Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Fellowship from the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership and is a 2001 graduate of the Mesa Leadership Training and Development program.






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ATSU opens osteopathic center on Mesa campus

A.T. Still University (ATSU) recently announced the opening of A.T. Still University Osteopathic Medicine Center Arizona. Physicians at the center will provide osteopathic manipulative treatment to address a variety of problems, including neuromusculoskeletal issues, headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and injuries related to sports or the performing arts. The center will also offer specialized services for children with special needs. To schedule an appointment or request information, contact the office at 480-248-8198.

“The Feminine Touch” PBS documentary features ATSU

ATSU was recently featured in a PBS documentary, “The Feminine Touch,” highlighting the incredible contributions of women in medicine. ATSU has advocated for equality in medicine for 125 years. In fact, Andrew Taylor Still, DO, accepted women into the University's first class in 1892.

ATSU announces 2017 Hometown Scholars

Hometown Scholars

ATSU recently announced the recipients of the 2017 Hometown Scholars award. These exceptional students are committed to serving in America’s community health centers. Recipients are awarded a $2,500 scholarship to support their medical or dental education at ATSU. 

Hometown Scholar recipients: Christina Humphries, Julian Hirschbaum, Jessica Rydberg, Michael Geiger

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BenU at Mesa reaches landmark with first four-year graduating class, continues to grow to serve area

Benedictine University at Mesa marked yet another significant milestone for the branch campus in May when it sent off its first four-year graduating class on Saturday, May 20.

Fifty-six bachelor's degree candidates, 85 Master of Business Administration candidates and one Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior candidate were honored at the ceremony.
BenU Grads

The University also continues to invest in the Mesa campus and the Arizona community by expanding its workforce to serve students better.

In April, Benedictine University selected Paula Norby, Ed.D., to lead the University’s Mesa branch campus as NorbyDean. 

She is responsible for all academic and operational areas, and charged with developing strategies to continue to grow the Mesa campus.

Benedictine also officially opened the doors to its first residence hall for the Mesa campus earlier this spring. The former Alhambra Hotel, located at 43 S. Macdonald St., can house 53 students.

The $3.3 million renovation project provides students with single- and double-room suites with such amenities as study areas, lounges, a café, kitchen, laundry rooms, an outdoor commons area, patio space, and parking.

MCC Blue logo 

Mesa Community College (MCC) selected as one of six colleges in the U.S. to offer Apple’s App Development with Swift curriculum

“As a major provider of workforce training, we are responding to industry demand for qualified iOS App developers, who are vital for the future success of our local and national economy,” MCC interim president Sasan Poureetezadi said.

The eight-week hybrid classes "App Development using Swift/Xcode" will be offered beginning in fall 2017. An evening class was recently added to accommodate working professionals who expressed interest but were unable to attend the quickly-filling daytime sessions.  

The second and third Swift/Xcode courses will be offered in spring 2018. These iOS-focused courses will be incorporated into MCC’s degrees and certificates of completion in the programming, game, and multimedia technology areas. 

In addition, MCC, renowned for its Business and Information Systems and Applied Sciences and Technology departments, recently became a Red Hat Academy.


NAU helps Mesa residents make a difference through innovative teacher certification program

Northern Arizona University (NAU) has an innovative program to assist working adults give back to the community by becoming an elementary school teacher. NAU offers a M.Ed. in Elementary Education with Teacher Certification at its Mesa location. Classes are offered in eight-week sessions through a mix of video conferencing and online courses. East Valley residents can attend classes live or participate through online technology.

Classes begin each fall and spring, and a dedicated, full-time NAU faculty member will teach and mentor students through the program. Students with a bachelor’s degree who are interested in learning more may contact Dr. Diana Uyder at   



Wilkes University awards degrees in Mesa, Arizona

Wilkes Grads

Wilkes University held its spring commencement ceremony on May 6 at the Hilton Phoenix/Mesa in Mesa. More than 25 graduates were awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business.

The welcome address was presented by Marianne M. Rexer, interim executive director of Wilkes University in Arizona. Wilkes student Aubrey McCown gave the undergraduate greeting, and student Levi Leyba presented the graduate greeting.

Dean of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business Abel Adekola gave the dean’s message, followed by a message to the graduates by Anthony L. Liuzzo, chairperson of the business programs of Arizona. Wilkes University Senior Vice President and Provost Anne Skleder delivered a recognition of Dr. Liuzzo who retired in May after 27 years of service to the University.

Wilkes is now accepting applications for the Accelerated Bachelor of Business Administration program. Learn more and apply online at



Allegiant announces new nonstop destinations

Recnetly, Allegiant Air announced they are adding eight new nonstop destinations at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (Gateway Airport), the largest service expansion since the popular low-cost airline arrived in Mesa nearly 10 years ago. With these additional routes, Allegiant will offer service to 46 nonstop destinations from the greater Phoenix area. 

The new routes include major Midwest destinations Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Louisville, Omaha, and St. Louis/Belleville. Additionally, Boise will join the list of Mountain West destinations available to Gateway Airport.  For the first time, nonstop service to Florida launches with flights to the popular vacation destination of Tampa/St. Pete, Florida. 

“Eight new destinations are a further testament to the growing strength of the Phoenix East Valley market,”  Mesa Mayor John Giles, Chairman of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority said. “Today’s announcement by our airline partner Allegiant is great news for air travelers and the East Valley economy.”

“We are proud to be growing again at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. These eight new routes show that local travelers have continued to embrace Allegiant’s unique brand of ultra-low-cost fares and nonstop service to destinations around the country,” Lukas Johnson, Allegiant Senior Vice President of Commercial said. “We are so grateful to our loyal customers in the area for helping us grow here and are excited to offer nonstop flights to these eight cities at a fare that everyone can afford.”

Gateway Airport welcomed more than 1.3 million passengers in 2016, and anticipates a sharp increase in activity associated with these eight new destinations. Several construction projects designed to increase capacity and enhance convenience of existing airport facilities and infrastructure are already underway at the airport.

For more information about Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, please visit

VisitMesa logo

Visit Mesa grabs attention with user-generated content to tell the travel story

A picture is worth a thousand words and that is ringing true with the latest developments within destination marketing. Visit Mesa is now incorporating real-time Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feed activity to their website, The demand for visual content is at an all-time high as consumer behavior shows more online viewing and engagement is occurring on photography and video posts versus traditional written content.

Visit Mesa is now sharing the destination’s influencer endorsements and consumer engagement it receives on its social feeds and embedding this visual content into 10 online galleries. The new approach is powered by software developed by Crowdriff and allows Visit Mesa to capture, organize, and publish organic social media posts and hashtag activity. The resulting galleries of user-generated visuals have been placed on Visit Mesa’s home page and the most viewed sections of the website including Things to Do, Trip Planning, Deals and Discounts, Calendar of Events, and more.

“Finding out where consumers are getting information to make their travel decisions is not an easy task, but we know social media offers instant brand recognition for destination marketers and there is an entire new set of jetsetters that rely on social media to tell them where to go next,” Visit Mesa Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kimberly Freer said. “By sharing these inspirational, authentic visuals of Mesa from actual visitors that are here, we are able to show potential visitors that there is a demand for our incredible product and they need to get a trip to Mesa into their travel plans – stat!”


Mesa Chamber Logo 

Mesa Chamber relocates offices, partners with Mesa Community College and Mesa United Way to help startups and veterans

The Mesa Chamber of Commerce has announced it has moved its office effective July 1.  In partnership with Mesa Community College, the Chamber now occupies space at the Mesa Community College Downtown campus at 165 N. Centennial Way. 

The new space allows the Chamber to host more onsite meetings and events, as well as partner with Mesa Community College on programming for start-up businesses.

In addition, the Chamber, in partnership with Mesa United Way, will be opening the Mesa Veteran’s Resource Center on the same campus. Partner agencies will work together to provide resources to aid local veterans in need.