Mesa names Jaye O'Donnell as new economic development director

Jaye O’Donnell has been named director of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development. 

O’Donnell has worked with the city for the past 14 years, first as marketing and business development manager for the office of economic development and then as assistant economic development director — a position she’s held since 2012 before her promotion.

“Jaye is intimately familiar with our vision for growth in Mesa, and her work has been pivotal in shifting our brand from quiet suburb to established international business destination,” said Mesa City Manager Chris Brady in a statement. “Jaye keenly understands the importance of developing a talented workforce pipeline to increase our economic growth potential. I can’t wait to witness Jaye’s accomplishments in this new role.” 

O’Donnell’s priorities will include fostering connections between education and the business community for workforce development, helping small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and doubling down efforts to bring high-wage jobs into the city through emerging industries. Some points of emphasis for business recruitment include medical device manufacturing and bolstering the electric vehicle and semiconductor supply chain, she said. 

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Southeast Mesa, particularly around the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport area, is one of the top industrial markets within the Valley as more than 15 million square feet of industrial space was under construction during the third quarter of this year. While the area will play a big role in bringing those companies to Mesa, O’Donnell said there are opportunities in the northeast part of town for new development and build-to-suit. Redevelopment and revitalization of existing Mesa real estate will also be key moving forward — O’Donnell singled out the Asian District, the Broadway Corridor and the Fiesta District as priorities for those efforts.

“I think over the next few years, you’ll see our office of economic development work more closely with our development services department and other partners to identify some strategies that we can bring forward to really help west Mesa,” she said.

O’Donnell succeeds Bill Jabjiniak as Mesa’s economic development director. Jabjiniak told the Phoenix Business Journal in early October of his plans to retire after 16 years with Mesa but plans to stay in the Valley with a new position in the private sector.

“His retirement is bittersweet. I’m so excited for him in his next chapter, but he will definitely be missed. He has been a great leader for this department and really put Mesa on the map,” O’Donnell said of Jabjiniak. “He has been a mentor to me and extremely supportive of my career and my development within economic development. And I really just appreciate having worked with him for 14 years of my tenure.”

O’Donnell spoke as a panelist for the Phoenix Business Journal’s Growth Summit on the East Valley on Oct. 19, where she talked about East Valley cities needing to work together as a region to compete for major economic development projects on a national level as well as highlighting what’s happening in Mesa’s backyard.


Jaye O’Donnell, then assistant economic development director for the city of Mesa, speaks at the Phoenix Business Journal’s Growth Summit panel on the East Valley on Oct. 19 in Tempe.

Jim Poulin | Phoenix Business Journal


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