Arizona Association for Economic Development Hosts Successful Spring Conference

(PHOENIX – July 1, 2021) – Economic development professionals from across the state “Soared Into Summer” at the Scottsdale Airport on June 10 for the Arizona Association for Economic Development’s (AAED) annual Spring Conference. Speakers from the aerospace and workforce development industries spoke on a variety of topics from preparing for site visits to how airports have been increasing economic value.

Keynote speaker Lee Lambert, chancellor and CEO of Pima Community College, discussed how labor markets are changing due to the challenges of workforce development in a post-COVID world. Lambert also discussed the approaching ‘sansdemic’ – a phenomenon used to describe when the number of available jobs exceeds the growth of the workforce population – and how partnerships, education and recruitment can help fill this gap.

J. Brian O’Neill, executive director of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority spoke about the role regional airports have in driving major economic development. Air freight between Arizona and Mexico brings in nearly $400 million a year, a number that will increase with the recent addition of Skybridge. This new development allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to work alongside Mexican Customs to processes international shipping transits.

The other speakers for the one-day session included Grady Gammage Jr., fellow at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy; Mignonne Hollis, founder of Aerospace Arizona Association and immediate past president of AAED; and James Smith, economic development director at the Town of Fountain Hills. Presenters also offered an in-depth, real-time look at what is happening at a local and national legislative stage.

“Nearly 150 attendees saw first-hand how these industries have become more economically valuable to our state,” said Stephanie Handley, chair of AAED’s spring conference committee. “This event brought together key economic developers and industry leaders from across the state to join the conversation of how we can expand economic development and workforce within all industries in the state.”

To learn more about events hosted by AAED, visit

About the Arizona Association for Economic Development

AAED, founded in 1974, has a mission to serve as Arizona’s unified voice for responsible economic development through professional education, public policy, and collaboration. For more information on AAED, visit or call (602) 240-2233.


Photo provided by the Arizona Association for Economic Development

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at Jul 1, 2021

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