Editor’s note: Julie Engel, president and CEO of the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp., originally sent this annual to report investors.

This year the Greater Yuma Development Corp.’s attraction strategy included hosting a national site selector firm in Yuma to learn more about our region’s immense potential. The most impactful experience for a company or consultant is to visit a community and hear firsthand from employers what makes our community so special.

GYEDC also took Yuma on the road to Chicago and Cleveland to meet with multiple large firms specializing in company expansions and relocations. We braved the cold and snow to promote our operational benefits and advantageous business environment.

We remain in contact with the firms for future lead generation. This year we will be visiting more site selection firms in California, South Carolina and Dallas, along with attending food processing conferences.

The organization also continues to be an integral advocate for building stronger relationships with Mexico via the Arizona-Mexico Commission. Having three Yuma representatives gives our region a stronger voice within the AMC.

This year the primary focus of the AMC is the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The need for this to pass in the current congressional session is paramount to our future trade with both Canada and Mexico as well as securing our nation’s position as a world trade power.

I personally attended meetings in Washington, D.C., and in Phoenix that lent credence to the urgency of this agreement to be heard as soon as possible in the House of Representatives. We run the risk of losing our No. 1 trade position in the world without the bipartisan approval of the agreement.

In addition to securing our international commerce, I took time to ensure that our bases were heard and protected. Serving as chairwoman of the Yuma 50 gave me the privilege to travel to D.C. to meet with representatives and discuss the immense value our military bases provide to protecting our country.

Discussions focused on YPG modernization and defense bill spending increases to support for MCAS future squadron expansions.

The Yuma 50’s work was also needed locally. (This organization is a united effort by Yuma County stakeholders to support local military assets.) We have been closely involved in increasing the awareness and priority of moving the Yuma County Fairgrounds out of the Clear Zone of our military and civilian runways. Without the relocation, Yuma would risk impeding the economic development growth of the Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma.

Expanding Highway 95 going north to Yuma Proving Ground was our final initiative for the fiscal year. I am ecstatic to report that the State of Arizona has committed funds to the project. The safety conditions of our service people and civilians commuting to YPG daily is our top priority. The Yuma 50 will remain committed to providing support for our bases and their personnel at all levels of government.

Lately, GYEDC worked diligently with our partners on increasing state funding for P-20 education (which refers to public education that spans the years from preschool through college) and countywide broadband infrastructure expansion. The advocacy work is critical to becoming prepared for the oncoming fourth industrial revolution which requires a higher-skilled, tech-savvy worker who has access to high-speed telecommunications.

I was honored to chair the publishing of an international economic development white paper that addresses “Industry 4.0” need for advancements in digital and physical technology applications that are rapidly changing manufacturing and agribusiness. If you have an interest in learning more about disruptive change artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud computing will have on our economy, please contact our office for a copy of the report.

It continues to be a sincere privilege to serve every one of our investors. I look forward to the progress and success 2019-2020 promises the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp.

To reach the GYEDC, call 928-782-7774.

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