It’s not often that I hear something new on the subject of economic development target industries, and I have to hand it to David Valenzuela of Peoria, Arizona for giving me a refreshing take on something different. For the most part, even if the names change slightly, when I’m talking to economic developers they tend to be focused on the same industry groups in their marketing – Automotive, Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioscience, Logistics, you get the drift.
That’s why it was so refreshing when I met with David along with Brad Smidt of GPEC here in Chicago, and we talked about the work that is underway to, as David put it, build an eco-system in Peoria in support of the booming e-sports industry. This is an industry that doesn’t show up neatly in a NAICS code and its employment and investment are hard to track in traditional sources, but there is no denying that if you look for it, something really amazing is going on, and there are steps a community can take to be welcoming and supportive.
This wasn’t the first time I heard about e-sports and its growth, and I’m sure there are other places that may be courting this industry, but for me, this was an excellent and unique conversation to have on a consultant speed date, and it has made Peoria, Arizona a place I’ll remember.