YAKIMA – Jean Brown, Director of Business Development for the Yakima County Development Association, received the “Emerging Professional” Award from the Washington Economic Development Association (WEDA).
According to Robin Toth, Vice President of Greater Spokane Inc. and Chair of the Board of WEDA, “WEDA’s Economic Development Emerging Professional Award celebrates a professional who has made a significant contribution to their community, is a promising future leader in the industry, or who has become an integral member of his or her community, and who is creating significant support for economic development.”
“I felt that this award described Jean in almost every way,” stated Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of Yakima County Development Association. “Jean has established herself as a business retention & expansion guru by impacting over 100 companies and 1,000 jobs.”
For the past five years Jean has run the Enterprise Challenge Business Plan Competition. Her efforts with this completion have helped launch over 40 companies throughout the valley and these companies have created 220 jobs.
Smith explained that in addition to working with startups, Brown has also coordinated and facilitated meaningful programs for existing businesses.
“Each year she works closely with local industry and facilitates specific training to meet the exact needs of industry. One of the first classes to be offered in the State on the new Food Safety Modernization Act was delivered in Yakima because of her responsiveness to local business needs.”
Brown also coordinates a monthly industry roundtable that brings together the top minds in the business community to discuss important issues and realize solutions. These roundtables led to her involvement in the Washington State STEM network where she has helped pilot educational programs aimed at preparing high school students for STEM careers in the State.
She participated in a panel presentation at the state STEM Summit in late 2016 where she was recognized as an expert in matching up educational programs with the specific needs of businesses.
When the Department of Commerce undertook a Statewide economic gardening initiative, Brown became certified immediately.
“The first company in the State to enroll in the economic gardening program did so because of the trust they had developed over the years with Jean,” said Smith. “Not too long after that, Jean helped a second company to enroll and this company had won the Enterprise Challenge Business Plan competition two years earlier.”
“Jean helped launch the business, and now she was helping them take their business to the next level by getting customized assistance. In terms of business development, it doesn’t get much better than that.”