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April 2024
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Two AAED Members Named Top 50 Economic Developers in Nation
By Justin Liggin - Friday Apr 22, 2022
Barbra Coffee, CEcD, EDFP, Economic Initiatives Director for the City of Tucson and Kelly Patton, Economic Development Manager for APS, both members of the Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED), have been named to the 2022 North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers by Consultant Connect, a service for educational and networking events for economic developers and site selectors.

As Director of Economic Initiatives for the City of Tucson, Coffee is responsible for the city’s economic development strategy, which includes local business retention and expansion programs, business attraction, small business and entrepreneurial development. Her division is also responsible for annexations and the economic development and workforce grants program.

Under her leadership in Tucson, she has grown the Office of Economic Initiatives team from three to eight people to maximize economic development activities on behalf of the city. In 2021 she led the effort to renew and expand the City’s Central Business District. Since 2020, Coffee and her team have assisted the creation of more than 1500 jobs including company expansions such as Raytheon, TuSimple and CIS Global.

Patton has spent 20 years in the economic development industry with 15 years of experience specific to Arizona. As the Economic Development Manager at Arizona Public Service (APS), she and her department are responsible for working with community, regional and statewide partners in the attraction and expansion of business and industry within Arizona and APS service territory. Since 2020 the APS economic development team has been successful in working with these partners to create approximately 12,600 new jobs with investment by companies such as Amazon, Kore Power, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Whitehall Industries.

“I am thrilled to be recognized as a top 50 economic developer, who along with Barbra and our colleagues throughout the state, daily support the important work of bringing business and industry to Arizona,” said Patton. “Successful economic development really takes a team of professionals working together to advance Arizona’s benefits.”

“Economic development is really a team sport,” said Coffee, “and recognition like this is a great reminder that it takes a community of partners to develop and implement an economic development strategy that has a positive impact on our communities.”

“AAED encourages its members to not only network with colleagues in the state, but to also collaborate with industry professionals across the country to share best practices,” said Carrie Kelly, executive director of AAED. “Consultant Connect allows for this collaboration by hosting leadership summits and we’re thrilled that two of our members are being recognized for their efforts.”

About the Arizona Association for Economic Development

AAED, founded in 1974, has a mission to serve as Arizona’s unified voice for responsible economic development through professional education, public policy, and collaboration. For more information on AAED, visit or call (602) 240-2233.