FLORENCE — Elan Vallender, senior economic development specialist for the city of Apache Junction, has been hired to be Florence’s new economic development director, taking on a program that hasn’t had an official leader for the last several years.

Town Manager Brent Billingsley cited Vallender’s significant experience with Apache Junction beginning as an intern in 2012.

“Elan has honed his skills in economic development in Apache Junction and has been heavily involved in Pinal County, meaning that he will be ready to roll right away,” Billingsley said in a town news release. “His previous experience as a small-business owner really resonated with me, and I think he will be a wonderful advocate for our many small businesses in town. I’m excited to have him leading our economic development efforts.” Vallender will begin his duties in Florence on Dec. 7th.

“I’m very honored to be selected to be the town’s economic development director and I am excited to work with the many charming businesses that help make Florence such a special place,” Vallender said in the town’s news release.

Vallender holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University and received a master’s degree from Arizona State University. He has nearly completed the Certified Economic Developer program through the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and plans on finishing the written and oral examinations required for that certification within the next few months. He is a member of IEDC, the Arizona Association for Economic Development, and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

In his new position, Vallender will lead Florence’s efforts towards business sustainability, growth, attraction and retention. The economic development position was created as part of the town’s annual budget process this past summer.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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