Winners of a Golden Prospector Award at AAED’s Fall Forum.

    PHOENIX, ARIZ. (Nov. 1, 2022) — The Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) presented five Golden Prospector Awards and 10 Awards of Merit to recognize excellence, innovation and creativity in economic development at its annual Fall Forum held last week in the City of Maricopa.

The Golden Prospector Awards were established more than 20 years ago to recognize excellence in economic development. AAED received 36 nominations from around the state for the 2022 Awards.

“It’s amazing what’s happening in Arizona when it comes to the economic development community,” said AAED Executive Director Carrie Kelly. “This year’s Golden Prospector Award winners and Merit Award winners truly showcase what this organization is all about. We couldn’t be prouder of our winners and all the nominees.”

Awards were presented in the following categories:

Jaye O’Donnell (left), Assistant Economic Development Director for the City of Mesa, accepts the Golden Prospector Award for Deal of the Year from AAED Executive Director Carrie Kelly.

 Golden Prospector Award: Deal of the Year

      The Metaverse Moves to Mesa: The City of Mesa was for a 396-acre campus, 2.5 MSF of development, more than $1 billion in investment, 200 jobs, 100 percent renewable energy driving the project, and the restoration of 200 million gallons of water per year.

The Deal of the Year provides a number of community benefits including a $50,000 donation to a College Promise initiative and free small business training through a partnership with the East Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Award of Merit: Deal of the Year

      VIAVI Locates Global Headquarters in Chandler: Chandler was selected for a new manufacturing operation and the relocation of its global headquarters, proposing to hire up to 233 full-time equivalent workers and making a capital investment of $96 million.      The company needed a location with a tech ecosystem, a highly educated workforce, suitable real estate options and a business-friendly operating environment. Chandler won the manufacturing and headquarters operations.

 Golden Prospector Award: Multimedia Promotion

      Prescott Discover Business Unusual: The campaign featured high-tech and business leaders discussing via social media, in print and on the city’s website why they have chosen this community to locate their businesses, and how high-tech and high-touch can blend together into a great place to do business.

Golden Prospector Award: Multimedia Promotion Website Oro Valley was commended for a landing page tailored to site selectors to facilitate quick decision-making, including features like a business case for targeted industries, available sites and buildings, incentives and taxes, and other business resources. The community was able to go live two months prior to its targeted date and got 500 hits on the first day the site was live.

ASU Office of Economic Development: ASU’s OED was honored for being a well-recognized innovation leader and economic driver in Arizona whose new economic development website provides access to critical information that drives partnerships, programs and incentives for world-class industry sectors. The website highlights the effectiveness, relevance, creativity of their work to advance economic development in Arizona.

Golden Prospector Award: Marketing Brochure

    Connect Tucson: Tucson developed a brochure in 2021 with a goal to create something updated, short, sweet, and consistent with its economic development brand. The brochure spoke to both the lifestyle and the economic development environment of the community and frames the community as a “city in harmony.”

Award of Merit: Multimedia Promotion

     Open for Business – Every Entrepreneurs Dream Peoria: The City of Peoria helped its businesses by providing free promotion via social media channels, which made residents aware of these establishments that they otherwise may not have known about.  The city shot more than 100 videos of these businesses that received more than 186,000 views on Facebook alone. These videos are credited with an increase in first-time customers to these establishments and are also credited with attracting new businesses.

#PeopleAreOurWhy Social Media Campaign for Economic Development Week Surprise: Surprise was honored for an innovative and strategic Economic Development Week campaign that did more than just celebrate the community’s success. It accumulated 14,000 views in one week via social media by explaining the “why” behind what they do.

Award of Merit: Multimedia Promotion Website Queen Creek has made tourism a targeted sector of its economic development strategy. Its tourism-specific website provides information on places to eat, play, shop and stay.

Award of Merit: Community Economic Development

     Discover Avondale Sales Kit: Avondale created a kit to help attract events and destination travel that would drive additional room nights. It is used to promote the city’s destination assets, particularly its sports venues, to meeting and event planners and travel writers. The was distributed to more than 200 decision-makers and is credited for the booking of more than 1,200 additional room nights and driving more than $350,000 in economic impact.

Chino Valley Open for Business; Eloy Intersection of Value, Location, and Opportunity: Two community economic development marketing and promotional publications were honored. Both were creatively packaged by Rox Media. Both publications highlighted each community’s assets in both print and digital formats.

Goodyear Mom and Pop Food Stops: Goodyear made it easy for residents and visitors alike to find a great dining experience by creating a brochure that illustrates a vast amount of dining choices with 66 “Mom and Pop” food stops as well as the favorites.

Award of Merit: Economic Development Program

Surprise-BNSF Certified Sites, City of Surprise: The City of Surprise had two mega-sites on the market for almost two decades until becoming the first city in Arizona to certify its sites in partnership with its local railroad provider. After nearly two years of completing the process, the certification process became an economic game-changer for the community that has catapulted additional development and employment growth.

Award of Merit: Special Event

GPEC Convening the Community: GPEC launched a two-part series that engaged CEOs, mayors, legislators, and community activists. There were 256 attendees for Part One and 235 attendees for Part Two. These events defined the emerging Arizona 2030 vision. This spurred action toward a common goal to increase the quality of life for Metro Phoenix residents and create an equitable future for all.

About AAED

The Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) was founded in 1974 with a mission to serve as Arizona’s unified voice for responsible economic development through professional education, public policy, and collaboration. The Association works to promote economic development in the State of Arizona through an exchange of information and educational opportunities among its members, to act as a liaison with outside groups, to influence legislation affecting economic development, and to empower members to create relationships to improve the economic outlook for Arizona. For more information on AAED, visit or call (602) 240-2233.