Tim Kanavel

Tim Kanavel served as Pinal County economic development director for 11 years.

FLORENCE — Pinal County Economic Development Director Tim Kanavel, who died on Feb. 9, has been honored by the Arizona Association of Economic Development with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kanavel, Pinal’s economic development director for 11 years, died of complications related to COVID-19.

Kanavel was instrumental in luring new industry and jobs to Pinal County. At his time of death, he had been working to create synergy among the county’s newest economic development prospects and attract more of them in a “tech corridor” between Arizona State University and University of Arizona.

The Arizona Association for Economic Development awarded the William Lampkin Award for Long Term Excellence posthumously to Kanavel. The award was presented at the Economic Development Distinguished by Excellence award ceremony held during the organization’s annual fall forum held in Flagstaff earlier this week.

This award recognizes outstanding achievements by an individual who has made significant contributions to economic development efforts in Arizona and demonstrated a sustained commitment to AAED. Nominations are evaluated based on the overall economic impact of the individual’s efforts to Arizona, contributions of the nominee to AAED, the development of strong relationships and community support, and contributions to the economic development profession.

Kanavel was a member of AAED for 20 years, serving on the Board of Directors and chairing the Rural Economic Development Committee. He joined Pinal County in 2009 to create the county’s first economic development department.

Kanavel’s passion for economic development was evident as he was involved with various economic development initiatives throughout Arizona during his career. In 2010, he was appointed to the Arizona Governor’s Rural Business Advisory Council, where he managed a grant budget of more than $2.5 million in two of the four years there. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Pinal Partnership Economic Development Coalition and Arizona@Work and served as a member of the Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition, Pinal Alliance for Economic Growth, Pinal County Industrial Development Authority and Central Arizona Association of Governments. Kanavel died in February.

According to Richard Wilkie, economic development director of Casa Grande, Kanavel was a strong proponent of education and professional development. As such, the AAED board established the Tim Kanavel Memorial Scholarship Fund in his memory to provide financial assistance to economic developers across the state to pursue their Arizona Economic Development Professional certification through AAED.

“Tim always encouraged his staff to participate in AAED programs and events and to avail themselves of the many continuing education opportunities. This a fitting legacy and one that I know Tim would be very proud of,” said Stephanie Maack, economic development program manager at Pinal County.

Kanavel’s wife and sons were in attendance. His son David accepted the award on behalf of his father.

“Thank you for the kind words about my dad,” said David Kanavel. “I know my father loved the state and the people he worked with in Pinal County. Our family will be giving this award to them so that they can display it in his honor.”


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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