By Richard Smith
Surprise renewed its annual contract with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council for $56,362 at the June 6 City Council meeting.
Economic Development Director Jeanine Jerkovic said GPEC conducts a lot of market analysis, advocates for site selection and attracts quality businesses to the region.
From GPEC’s analysis, which Ms. Jerkovic called conservative, it has directly created 305 jobs in Surprise in the past five years. She said for every dollar paid in membership fees, $7 comes back.
“Since I’ve been on council this is the first time return on investment has been mentioned. And what a return on investment,” Councilman Ken Remley said.
Ms. Jerkovic has been on the economic development director’s team in a lead role for two years and is just finishing her stint as the vice chair.
Surprise was one of the inaugural members when GPEC was formed in 1989. The growing city continues to submit more proposals, bumping from 29 in fiscal year 2015 to 56 in fiscal year 2017. That is what brings site visits for potential clients.
“The strategic support through the qualified prospects and leads that we get .. we would never see these without a partner like GPEC,” Ms. Jerkovic said. “We would not be aware of these leads without them.”
IRIS USA CEO Chet Keizer is one city representative on the GPEC board, while Mayor Sharon Wolcott fills the other seat.
Mayor Wolcott said a few years ago, the city had two board representatives that neither lived in Surprise nor had a business here.
“It’s my intention to fill that other seat, which I have been filling all along, with another executive in the city of Surprise. That’s (Ottawa University Arizona president) Kevin Eichner. My goal is to have him take that role,” Mayor Wolcott said.
The mayor also said in recent years the city’s economic development department has improved at catching businesses.
“We’re reaching a new point here in Surprise, where you’re going to see a dramatic shift,” Ms. Jerkovic said.