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.

Joe Schmitt

Economic Development Manager

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.

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.