Q&A with Salt Lake County's New Economic Development Director Jevon Gibb
Posted By Regional Development
November 30, 2020
Salt Lake County has a new Economic Development Director that joins our efforts on Dec. 1. Jevon Gibb will support economic recovery and long-term economic development opportunities that address continued growth.
Jevon comes to Salt Lake County from Hartford, Connecticut where he most recently served as Director of Research and Economic Development for MetroHartford Alliance. His educational background includes a BA in International Relations and Juris Doctor from University of Texas; an MBA from Tulane University; and an MPA from Harvard University.
"The thing I'm really passionate about is economic opportunity -- a lot of that comes from my family background," Jevon said. "The year I was born, our family farm in Northeast Texas went bankrupt and my family spent 18 years rebuilding a business. When I work now, I think about my mom sitting at her black roll-top desk balancing the family checkbook and trying to keep us afloat ... I ask whether my work is creating impact for families and businesses like ours. Am I making a difference? Will this create economic opportunity and help them achieve their potential?”
Jevon is excited for the leadership opportunity and to work with Mayor Jenny Wilson to guide the county's regional economic development strategy. Learn more about Jevon from our digital Q&A with him.
Q: What lead you to economic development in Utah?
A: I started in international development and worked in places like Afghanistan (as part of the U.S. Navy JAG Corps) where I didn't have the success or impact I was hoping for. So, I pivoted to regional economic development, doing research in Boston, and then working in Hartford, Connecticut. I'm so excited to come to Utah, which is a very different story than Hartford, and work on some interesting challenges and opportunities that come with progress and growth.
Q: What excites you about Salt Lake County?
A: The potential for teamwork. Economic development is a team sport. The biggest challenge is communicating with stakeholders and delivering results that work with all of those folks. We won't agree on everything, but we'll agree on more than enough to have effective teamwork.
For Salt Lake County, the biggest challenges seem like creating alignment as we prove that we can maintain both economic growth and quality of life. Growth can come with inconvenient things: traffic, increased housing prices, natural byproducts. How do we mitigate or minimize that? It's an exciting challenge!
Q: What's the one thing you look forward to once you move to Utah?
A: My wife, Kristen, and I love the region and can't wait to get out there. We just got married in September and are excited to build a family in a place that's amazing for families. Outdoors, camping, hiking with our dog Jamie. Hopefully when life becomes more normal, we'll get to dive into the community and immerse ourselves in all the amazing things going on.
Q: We were interested in how you shared some failures as learning opportunities. Which do you think will inform your new role as economic development director?
A: My failed startup and my deployment to Afghanistan. On both, I put a lot of effort into something that lacked clear deliverables and outcomes. With my startup, I spent too much time on features and target audience and didn't get a minimum viable product out quickly enough. In Afghanistan, I felt like we were building sandcastles. Those frustrations drive me forward. At some point, if you’re working with me, you'll hear me say, "What are we trying to achieve? How do we test this? How are we going to figure out if this is a good idea or a pipe dream?" Failures are only bad things if you don't learn from them.
Q: What's one thing partners and staff can share with you to help you hit the ground running?
A: How do I communicate best with you? Email? Call? Once a week? Once a month? Are you a numbers person? Do you prefer real-life examples? I’m a process and results-oriented person, so sometimes it might seem like I’m very serious. I’m just loving my work. I really care about being a good team member, though, so it’s helpful to know how you like to communicate.
Contact Jevon Gibb via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.