Featured Member: Ben Hooper, Town of Prescott Valley
Saturday, September 1, 2018
Posted by: Michelle Georgiev
Ben Hooper is the Economic Development Coordinator for the Town of Prescott Valley. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Fall Forum Committee, Member of the Northern Arizona Committee and Co-Chair of the ICSC P3 Committee. Ben has been a member of the Association since 2016 and has found the networking and education opportunities provided by AAED to be invaluable as a practitioner that is new to Arizona.
When we asked Ben to tell us his AAED story, he had the following to say:
The Arizona Association for Economic Development has been an asset for me in terms of their networking opportunities, educational resources and pleasant comradery. Being only one of two economic development practitioners in Prescott Valley, and the only economic development practitioner that works for the Town as a public entity, the ability to bounce my ideas off other practitioners elsewhere in the state has been very helpful to me. Additionally, talking to other practitioners in the state about economic development efforts in their communities has given me ideas that I can take back to Prescott Valley and apply to similar circumstances. The ability to network with service providers in the state is equally important and has already given me several leads that I continue to move forward as it pertains to my roll with the Town regarding commercial/retail business attraction.
Each State in the United States has different laws and nuances which make economic development just a little different. Before starting my position, I had no idea that TIF’s were illegal in the State of Arizona or that a municipality’s ROI regarding incentives packages needed to be evaluated by a third party before entering into a development agreement. Those are two examples of economic development tools that are structured differently in Arizona than any of the other states I worked in previously in the Midwest and Northeastern United States. I discovered both of those examples through AAED educational activities. The educational activities also gave me a great opportunity for continuing education courses such as learning what site selectors really want at the 2017 Spring Conference, how to repurpose big box stores at the Fall Forum and current trends in creating a vibrant downtown district which was discussed at my first AAED event, a Northern Arizona Symposium. I have yet to attend an AAED event and not walk away with new knowledge.
Lastly, AAED has introduced me to a wide range of public and private sector members who are just really great people whom I enjoy interacting with. I genuinely look forward to leading the monthly Fall Forum Committee meetings and participating in the Northern Arizona Committee meetings each month because the members of both committees are just fantastic people that brighten my day. Additionally, the AAED staff is easy to work with, intelligent and professional. My dealings with the AAED board have also been extremely positive. Moving to a new state across the country and starting a new job is a fun experience but it can also be a little scary, especially when you do not know anyone in the state. The members and staff of AAED welcomed me to my new position with open arms which helped to ease the transition. I am very grateful for that and for all of the benefits that AAED provides me through my membership!
When we asked Ben for a fun fact about himself, he responded, "I love animals and my wife and I adore our 5 cats and dogs. That number of animals usually makes people laugh."