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Access Arizona - Looking Forward with Jim Dinkle

Jim Dinkle

Executive Director of Access Arizona Interview by Rock Earle GC LIVING: Tell us about you and your background leading you up to Access, Arizona. JIM DINKLE: I have 20 plus years experience in the field of economic development at the state, regional, county and municipal levels. I've worked in economic development on both the public and private sides. I worked 5 years on the private side for BNSF Railway, which is the second largest railroad in the United States, and I did site selection for its customers across 5 states and worked with international accounts.. GC LIVING: So you know what it's like from the other side. JIM DINKLE: I do, I do very much so. And you know, that, kind of makes meunique in my field. I'm not traditional in that I tend to look at prospects and projects aa lot differently than your everyday economic developer, from having that breadth of experience. GC LIVING: And what lead you to say yes to the Access Arizona offer? JIM DINKLE: I moved to Arizona 6 years ago and I had a contract position in southwest Indiana and that was a county-wide economic development organization. I wanted towork closer to where my home was. So that's what led me here to Pinal County in October of 2012.I live in Mesa and I have a reverse commute as they say. I get a lot of work done on my way to and from work and it works out real well. Especially if I'm returning calls to the midwest and the east. GC LIVING: So was it just the offer of a job or were there some things that came into play? JIM DINKLE: I knew Pinal County from having lived in Arizona for several years. I had explored this area as a resident of Arizona, so I knew, what I was coming to and that


“I think there’s potential because of our proximity to Phoenix and to Tucson, Scottsdale, to attract innovators and entrepreneurs.” was very attractive. The reputation that Pinal County had before I came here as being how do you say, high-growth, having highgrowth potential was a challenge that I welcomed. As an economic developer I saw that as a good opportunity to help grow the, community further. So I think that's very much proven itself to be the case. When I came for my interview I met members of our search committee who were directors on our board and, again, I felt a great sense of excitement being able to work with people like Evelyn Casuga, possibly, in the future, or Donovan Kramer, whose fatherwas a business legend in the community. But then also meeting a lot of the public officials during that process and having a really high comfort level with them. So, again, I kind of learned through the selection process, that the support was there for economic development and, that there was huge potentialto grow Pinal County. GC LIVING: So, do you consider your time here so far to be quite fruitful or has it been a strange time trying to do what you do in the midst of the “Great Recession”? JIM DINKLE: This is what I would call atran-

sitional time for Pinal County. And by that I mean I think we're still trying to decide what we want to be when we grow up. For example, Access, Arizona has a strategic plan that targets four sectors. We are not so rigid that if, if, something outside of those four sectors presents itself, that we don't talk to them, we do. But I think we're still trying to decide, do we want to be logistics and distribution, do we really want to invest the resources in being aerospace and aviation, or do we really want to grow a very strong, good agricultural sector. You know, historically agriculture has been and remains the biggest business sector in Pinal County's economy. In the three years I've been here, I feel like they have been fruitful. I'm probably the fish swimming up stream in that I'm probably advocating more for a paradigm shift where we seek higher-paying and more skilled jobs by attaching ourselves to the state universities like ASU and the University of Arizona and, try to bring their entrepreneurs and their innovators from the research parks into Pinal County with their businesses. I am an outside-the-box thinker. But, I do think outside the box in a logical, reasonable fashion. And, I think there's potential because of our proximity to Phoenix and to Tucson, Scottsdale, to attract innovators and entrepreneurs.From my perspective, I think that the retention and expansion of existing businesses is equally, if not more important, than seeking out new businesses. We have people with very deep roots in the community. And those businesses tend to grow slowly and a little more incrementally. It's not as sexy as being able to step out and say, I've recruited a hun-



Profile for ROX Media Group

Golden Corridor Living Magazine  

Fall 2015

Golden Corridor Living Magazine  

Fall 2015