James Smith has been hired as Pinal County’s director of economic and workforce development and will start the new job Nov. 8.
Smith comes to Pinal County from the town of Fountain Hills, where he worked as economic development director since May 2019. Previously, he worked for the city of Chandler’s Economic Development Division for more than 12 years, rising to economic development program/innovation manager, according to a release.
Smith will lead a team of six, focused on bringing economic development projects, increased tourism and workforce opportunities to Pinal County. The job was formerly held by Tim Kanavel, who died earlier this year.
“We are very excited to have a proven economic development professional join our team and lead us into our bright future. James has been successful in the breadth of economic development activities throughout the various communities he has served. I believe he will have the most rewarding experiences of his career here in Pinal County as he unleashes the potential of our unique and talented communities,” Pinal County Manager Leo Lew said in the release.
“I am excited to join the Pinal County team and work in this dynamic environment. The projects that have recently located in the County are evidence of the competitiveness of the area and the team’s ability to make big things happen. I look forward to assisting in the future success of the region,” Smith said.
Smith has nearly 24 years of municipal government experience, primarily in business/economic development, the release states.
He has a bachelor of science in economics and master of public administration — both from San Jose State University. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, he is recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a certified economic developer. Recently, he completed the certified public manager program through Arizona State University.
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