The retention and expansion of area businesses and the task of recruiting new businesses to the area is now in the hands of a man who is no stranger to the area.
The Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation -- which is charged with those tasks -- has named Ken Volz as its new director.
Volz has lived in Payson for four years and is currently chairman of the Green Valley Redevelopment Area committee. He previously chaired Payson Mayor Bob Edwards' Economic Development Task Force and was a member of the Gila County Justice Facilities Advisory Committee.
Before moving to Payson to be closer to his wife's parents, the Arizona native was a frequent visitor to the area. While working as a transportation planner for the Central Arizona Association of Governments, he also participated in developing the Payson airport and getting the first stoplight erected in the community.
"We were fortunate to find a person from our own area," PREDC President Pat Willis said. "[Ken] has already been involved in economic activities for our northern Gila County region and is aware of the challenges we all face as business people, as well as the opportunities our region presents. Ken will not require much of a learning curve and will hit the ground running."
He replaces Barbara Ganz, who resigned.
Volz was born in the Morenci-Clifton area. He has been a consultant in marketing and management for building design and construction for the past few years. Prior to that, he spent more than 20 years in architecture and construction. He worked on the business development side of an architectural firm.
He holds two master's degrees -- one from the College of Social Sciences from Northern Arizona University; and the other from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design from Arizona State University.
Volz has a history of leadership and community service in addition to his professional experience, Willis said. He was a member of the Commission on Excellence in Education/Mesa Community College, past president of Phoenix Residential Investment Development Effort and former chairman of Valley Forward Association, Phoenix. He worked with Business Volunteers for the Arts, Museo Chicano, Phoenix Community Alliance and other nonprofit groups and citizens' committees.
"I take the opportunities, responsibilities and challenges of the PREDC Director's position very seriously," says Volz. "I will do everything in my power to move the organization and its mission to the next level."
Since he has been in his new post for only two weeks, Volz and his board of directors are still determining the next level for the PREDC. He is also doing a lot of outreach to connect with the area's stakeholders in economic development.
He said the PREDC needs to focus on recruiting businesses that are a match for the town and the environment.
"We need to be proactive and look at businesses like forest industries, businesses that use renewable resources."
Volz said Internet-related companies might be a good match for the area.
Taking care of the community's existing businesses has to be a priority for the PREDC, he said.
Volz believes there is a good team working toward the area's economic health. He said the team includes the PREDC, the chamber, the town's community development and tourism/economic vitality offices and the Small Business Development Center at the Payson campus of Gila County Community College. The groups will be meeting soon to figure how to best work together.
"By the end of the week, I will have met one-on-one with all the Payson Town Council. I am still having visits with the individual members of the PREDC executive board."
He said both of his predecessors, Ganz and Scott Flake, did great work.
"I stand on their shoulders," Volz said.
He said everyone knows the region is changing. He believes there are good things in store.
"A nice area like this sells itself," Volz said.
Payson Regional Economic Development Corporation is a nonprofit organization whose charter is to assist companies wishing to relocate or expand to the Payson region.