Summit County welcomes new economic development director
Ryan Summerlin June 17, 2014
Although he had been in his position for less than a week, Jeff Jones had no problem feeling like a local Saturday at the Utah Barbeque Festival in Coalville.
"I did consume my body weight in barbecue," Jones said with a laugh.
Jones plans to become a familiar face throughout Summit County as the county’s first full-time economic development director, bringing 20 years of experience in economic development, land planning, neighborhood revitalization, land recycling, infrastructure projects, and commercial real estate to the post. The 54-year-old will be tasked with implementing programs and helping build and sustain a strong economic base for the county.
Before Jones, the position of economic redevelopment director was a contracted position.
Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said in a press release that "Jones’ experience with running an economic development agency made him an ideal fit for the county. We look forward to having him further [the] council’s call for economic vitality and diversity."
The council’s decision to make economic redevelopment a priority resulted in expanding the economic redevelopment director to a full-time position,
Jones moved to the county after serving as the executive director for the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency and the economic development specialist for the city of Moscow, Idaho. As of the last census, Moscow had a population of 24,500.
Jones said there were a number of reasons why he applied for the position. A veteran of mountaineering, he was drawn in by the natural beauty and grandeur of the mountains in Utah. In addition, he has been in a long-distance relationship with a woman in Holladay, and wanted to be closer to her. But most of all, he liked the opportunities available for attracting new businesses and companies to Summit County, considering Utah a business-friendly state as well as Summit County being close to a major international airport and interstate highways.
Although being a self-described "catalyst" for bringing in new business is a key priority for Jones, he maintains that one of his main orders of business is ensuring local businesses aren’t neglected, but rather fostered by the county. "Most growth comes from existing businesses," he said. He likened the process to barn-building in rural communities. "I doubt everyone who did that loved one another, but they needed one another," he said. "You help me build my barn, and I will help you build your barn."
Jones said that although Park City and its some of its environs are more developed than those in Moscow, he liked the small-town communities of the area that still harbored smart, balanced ideas of growth. "What smaller communities sometimes lack in economies of scale, they make up for in economies in scope," he said. People in Summit County, he said, know who their government representatives are, and rub shoulders with their constituents in a way that the populace in Los Angeles doesn’t.
Before joining the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency. Jones worked as a senior consultant for Equity Advisors Consulting Group, a site selection and real estate consulting company based in Boise, Idaho. Jones also worked as the regional manager for Russell/AD Development Group and was the economic development manager for Boise for over a decade.
Jones, a graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development Institute, grew up as a "construction brat" and lived all over the country, from the East Coast to the West Coast. In seventh grade, he moved from Orlando, Florida to the Northwest, where he remained until he went to BYU.
Jones will earn approximately $81,000, said Brian Bellamy, Summit County personnel director.