Mission Statement

The Yakima County Development Association will enhance the income, quality of life, and employment stability of Yakima County residents by retaining, expanding and recruiting new business and industry.

Board of Directors

Choose Yakima Valley’s Board of Directors reflects the composite leadership – both public and private – of the largest, most vibrant urban area in Central Washington. The board provides our organization with depth in experience and vision.

Directors serve a minimum of three years with additional tenure for those who serve on the Executive Committee. We greatly appreciate their time and commitment to this organization and our community.

Jonathan Smith

Executive Director

Jonathan is a Certified Economic Developer with twelve years of rural economic development experience. His key accomplishments include successful recruitment of national and international companies and assisting local businesses with expansions and exporting projects. In total, Smith has helped with over a dozen companies locate or expand new operations. These companies have invested over $1.5 billion in facilities and equipment and have created approximately 1,500 jobs.

Jon also has experience with infrastructure development and has helped secure over $30 million of grant and loan funding for job creating projects. This includes funding for rail, water, sewer, roads, electrical infrastructure and fiber optics.

Some of Jon’s most rewarding work has been coordinating workforce development programs between businesses and educational institutions. These training programs resulted in hundreds of local residents receiving the training and skills they need to be successful in local family wage jobs. Jon also works with small businesses and rural communities to help develop main streets and spur business growth in distressed areas.

Smith is the Chair of the Washington Economic Development Association and a board member of the South Central Workforce Development Council and the Yakima Valley Human Resources Association. He has a Master’s Degree in Communication & Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Communication with a minor in Economics from the University of Idaho.

Our Staff

Jean Brown

Business Development Director

Jean started with New Vision in May 2012.  She is responsible providing assistance to local manufacturers and other key companies in Yakima County.  Jean also manages the association’s entrepreneurial initiatives including New Vision’s Enterprise Challenge business plan contest.  Brown manages the office’s outreach to local manufacturers and is also the staff contact for New Vision’s Business and Industry Roundtable.

Jean worked for the Employment Security Department prior to New Vision, helping employers find and retain capable employees.  She has also owned a cabinet design company, worked in investor relations for Microsoft, and served as a project manager for the City of Bellevue.

Brown has an undergraduate degree in Information Systems Management from Central Washington University

Jean writes a weekly blog called the Enterprise Corner, which features a monthly ‘toolbox’ article showcasing assistance, incentives and other opportunities for local businesses.

Joe Schmitt

Director of Business Recruitment

Joe Schmitt joined our team in 2015 and is the association’s Marketing and Development Director

Schmitt is responsible for developing marketing programming designed to encourage the location of new business and manufacturing facilities in Yakima County. Schmitt also works with local employers to attract technical and professional employees to the area as well as implement strategies to improve regional workforce preparedness and talent retention.  As part of his duties Joe manages the YCDA’s web and social media initiatives.

Schmitt has an undergraduate degree in English from Washington State University and brings over a decade of entrepreneurial success as well as extensive public relations, outreach, marketing and media experience to the position.

Schmitt writes a weekly blog, The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate, economy, recreation, entertainment and dining.

Beverly Schieche

Investor Relations & Office Manager

Beverly is the Office Manager for the Yakima County Development Association.

Beverly has worked for New Vision for over four years and is primarily responsible for the association’s finances and operations.  She is also responsible for office operations, event planning, and board communications.

Beverly worked as the Accounts Payable Supervisor for Westwood Shipping Lines, a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Corp, for over ten years.  She was a business owner for 25 years, the Secretary to Nelson Graham of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a financial planning firm.