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.

Our Staff

Jonathan Smith

Executive Director

Jonathan is a Certified Economic Developer with thirteen 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 over twenty companies locate or expand new operations. These companies have invested over $1.5 billion in facilities and equipment and have created approximately 1,700 jobs.

Jon also has experience with infrastructure development and has helped secure over $35 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. Additionally, Jon has worked 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  Yakima SHRM, the local professional HR 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.

Jean Brown

Business Development Director

Jean started with Yakima County Development Association 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 the Enterprise Challenge business plan contest.  Brown manages the office’s outreach to local manufacturers and is also the staff contact for the Business and Industry Roundtable.

Jean worked for the Employment Security Department prior to YCDA, 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

Joe Schmitt

Director of Business Recruitment

Joe Schmitt joined our team in 2015 and is the association’s Director of Business Recruitment.

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, marketing, and outreach.

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.

Beverly Schieche

Investor Relations & Office Manager

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

Beverly has worked for the Association since 2010 and is primarily responsible for the association’s finances and operations.  She is also responsible for investor relations, 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.

Sarah Truglio

SBDC Business Advisor

Sarah Truglio joined our team in 2018 when she was hired by Washington State University to be the region’s new Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Advisor.

Previously, Sarah was with the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce for six years. Her areas of specialization include business startup and management, marketing, customer service, community building, and business planning. Sarah is also certified in business incubation management.

Located in the YCDA offices, Sarah serves Yakima, Kittitas, and Klickitat Counties as a Business Advisor. SBDC advisors provide in-depth business counseling and coaching for new companies and existing businesses in areas such as financial analysis, business planning and expansion, market research, and exporting. These services are offered to clients at no cost.