Wendy Bridges is creating and fostering a climate of opportunities for businesses and for customers. Bridges is the economic development coordinator for the City of Prescott.
Bridges views the challenge of creating such a climate as similar to that facing other Arizona communities. She uses, as an example, the need for a skilled and ready workforce. “Employers across the country are being challenged by a low unemployment rate, which leads to fewer job seekers. But in Prescott, because of our educational and workforce partners, we’re able to address that challenge.”
Proof of meeting that challenge was perhaps best documented when Bridges was named “Economic Developer of the Year – Small Community” in late May by the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED).
She was recognized for her efforts in helping Prescott business, RESAWear, expand its footprint and generate an additional estimated 150 well-paying jobs in the greater community, all in just the past few months.
RESAWear is an orthotic footwear company that has a unique process for creating custom-made orthotics through the use of a 3D printer and spools of heavy plastic thread.
Glen Hinshaw, founder and CEO of RESAWear, had nothing but accolades for Bridges. “She and her colleagues with the City of Prescott helped me build bridges to community partners that have propelled this company into national and international prominence and success.”
City of Prescott Community Outreach Manager John Heiney is her immediate supervisor. “I think we have an exceptionally strong team here in the City of Prescott. Wendy is an integral member of that team. Beyond her daily duties with the city, she represents Prescott comprehensively with organizations such as Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG), Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED), and many others.”
Among others are the Yavapai County Workforce Development Board, the Prescott Area Leadership Board of Directors and the Prescott Area Young Professional Board of Directors. She also is involved with key industry leaders such as the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), where she earned her CEcD candidacy, and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)
Bridges has not always been involved in economic development. Though a native of Chicago, she has lived in Arizona for most of her life. She once worked in the Yavapai County Clerk’s office. She has also served as a licensed real estate salesperson, which she says helped her gain perspective of what people look for when they come to a community.
She earned an associate degree from Yavapai College and has certification from the University of Arizona in economic development. She soon will complete a bachelor’s degree at Northern Arizona University.
Bridges is married to Chris Bridges, executive director of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO). She smiles when she talks about economic expansion projects in the Quad Cities, in which they are both involved.
“For the past 11 years, I’ve worked for the City of Prescott. Any time we see companies or businesses adding positions, and any time we hear about people who get a good job and buy a car and a home and can care for and support their families, we’re happy,” she said. “We want to continue creating an environment for economic opportunities.”
What is the best advice you’ve received?
“’Don’t take yourself too seriously.’ John Heiney told me that not long ago, and you know what? He’s right.”
What’s your favorite meal?
“My husband, Chris, would tell you the way to my heart is with veggie tacos. But also true is that any meal shared with good friends is a favorite.”
What would be your favorite vacation?
“When I was in a Chicago elementary school, we studied a different culture each year. The one I remember is Japanese. Ever since, I’ve wanted to visit Japan. I hope to make that trip someday.”
If you had a million dollars to give away, where would it go?
“Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, right here in Prescott, has a special place in my heart. It provides shelter and protection for animals that otherwise would be gone.”
What’s your favorite hobby?
“Hiking – at all skill levels. And we’re so blessed in Prescott to have what has been called the ‘best trail system in Arizona.’ I get to take advantage of all those great trails.” QCBN
By Ray Newton