About Us : Board of Advisors

Our Board of Advisors is comprised of professionals who are prominent figures in economic development. Their wise counsel helps us to significantly expand our knowledge of ongoing issues, and to continuously improve the important services we provide.

  • Rick Weddle

    Rick Weddle

    • President and CEO of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission

    Rick L. Weddle joined the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission (EDC) as President and CEO in March of 2011. In this role, he leads the operations of a $5 million regional organization with a 26-person staff that represents Orange, Seminole, and Lake counties, and the City of Orlando.

    Prior to joining the EDC, Weddle spent seven years as President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, owner and developer of The Research Triangle Park. Under his leadership, the Research Triangle Park generated successful development projects with projected capital investment of over $800 million and the projected creation of over 6,300 new jobs.

    Weddle’s extensive career in economic development also includes serving as President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) in Phoenix, Arizona. He has led economic development organizations in Toledo, Ohio, where he served as President and CEO of the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP); in Stockton, California, as President and CEO of the San Joaquin Partnership & Business Council; and in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he was President and CEO of Winston-Salem Business Inc.

    An active speaker and leader in numerous economic development and science park organizations, Mr. Weddle currently serves as the President of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) and was elected President of IASP-North American Division in December 2007. He has been active in the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) since its inception, serving as its first president in 2002 and is a recipient of their lifetime achievement award.

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  • Jim Fram, CEcD, FM, CCE

    • Senior Vice President, Economic Development Tulsa Metro Chamber

    A 26 year veteran of economic development and chamber of commerce management, Jim has served in CEO and/or senior management roles in economic development organizations and/or chambers of commerce in Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

    A 26 year veteran of economic development and chamber of commerce management, Jim has served in CEO and/or senior management roles in economic development organizations and/or chambers of commerce in Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.

    As the Senior Vice President for Economic Development for the Tulsa Metro Chamber he leads a nationally recognized staff team of professional economic developers who work in the areas of Business Attraction, Business Expansion, Business Development, and Business Retention.

    Following formal education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Fram graduated from the Institute for Organizational Management at Southern Methodist University and from the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

    In addition to many professional awards and honors, Jim has earned both CCE (Certified Chamber Executive) and CEcD (Certified Economic Developer) status, one of only a dozen active professionals in the nation to hold both designations. In 2011, Jim was honored with “Fellow Member” (FM) designation by the International Economic Development Council in recognition of his service to the economic development profession.

    Jim also participated in the Center for Creative Leadership I & II and the Leadership Development Program at the Aspen Institute.

    In 2001, Fram was selected by his peers as the Economic Development Professional of the Year by both the Tulsa Area Partnership and the Oklahoma Economic Development Council. He served as the Chairman of the Oklahoma Governor’s Economic Development Team in 2007.

    He also serves on the Board of the Heartland Basic Economic Development Course and is a past chair of the International Economic Development Council’s Education & Certification Committee as well as a past Board member of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). He is currently serving on the Board of the Southern Economic Development Council as the Regional Director for the organization’s western region.

    Jim, his wife Kelli, the Marketing Specialist for the College of Extended Learning at Northeastern State University – Broken Arrow, and their two sons live in Tulsa, Oklahoma where they are active in many community and church activities.

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  • Steve Vierck, CEcD

    • President/CEO New Mexico Partnership

    Steve Vierck, CEcD, joined the New Mexico Partnership as President and CEO in February, 2012. Vierck is a long-time economic development professional with a strong record of achievement earned over 30 years with economic development organizations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. He and the teams he has been associated with successfully assisted in the recruitment or expansion of over 300 companies generating more than 25,000 new jobs. Vierck is responsible for leading the New Mexico Partnership in its efforts to market New Mexico to companies, business decision makers and site selectors as a premier location to do business.

    He was employed from 2008-2012 as the President of the Economic Development Division at Angelou Economics in Austin, TX, one of the largest economic development and site selection consulting firms in the U.S. There he oversaw more than 40 projects for states, metropolitan areas and counties including Colorado Springs, Colorado; Moraine; Ohio, Santa Clarita Valley, California; Northeast Pennsylvania, the State of Mississippi Gulf Coast, Greater Phoenix, and the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Delaware.

    Prior to that, he served from 2002-2008 as President/CEO of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance where he successfully led the recruitment and expansion of 49 companies generating over 3,000 jobs and $147 million in capital investment in southern New Mexico. His key work experience also includes serving as Senior Vice President of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and National Marketing Director of the Arizona Department of Commerce where he directed the business attraction and expansion programs. Other prior positions include Vice President/Economic Development for the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.

    Vierck earned his Master’s degree in Geography with a specialization in Economic Geography and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Regional Development from the University of Arizona. He is a recipient of the “William W. Lampkin Award for Long Term Excellence in Economic Development” and “Developer of the Year” awards in both New Mexico and Arizona. He earned his certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation in 1991 and has served on numerous economic and workforce development boards.

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  • Barry Broome

    Barry Broome

    • President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council

    Broome is at the helm of one of the longest-standing regional public-private partnerships for economic development. He is a proven leader with 20-plus years of experience in community-building and economic development, new company creation, formation of public-private partnerships and public policy design.

    Broome’s tenure at GPEC has led to the attraction of more than 165 companies creating approximately 30,000 jobs and more than $5.5 billion in capital investment to Greater Phoenix.

    In Arizona, Broome has been named the state’s Top Economic Developer and is the inaugural recipient of the Real Estate Excellence Award. Under his leadership, GPEC has been ranked the No. 1 regional economic development organization in the U.S. among site-selection consultants and was recognized as Organization of the Year by the Arizona Association for Economic Development. Broome is credited with developing economic development programs that have redefined public policy and improved statewide competitiveness.

    In 2009, Broome worked with the business community, public-sector leaders and state partners to orchestrate the passage of Arizona’s landmark Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, a $350 million tax credit to stimulate renewable energy investment in Arizona. Since the program’s passage, Greater Phoenix has drawn a dozen companies, resulting in more than 6,300 jobs and more than $1.8 billion in capital investment. Among these wins is First Solar—the world’s most dominant industry leader. Broome helped to secure one of the nation’s largest solar manufacturing projects when First Solar selected Greater Phoenix for its technology campus.

    Broome also designed the Arizona Global Network, a collaborative model that unites the urban and rural markets of Greater Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and Yuma in attracting foreign direct investment to Arizona. GPEC’s international focus has led to foreign direct investment wins for Greater Phoenix, most notably the attraction of China-based Suntech—the world's largest producer of solar panels. Suntech is the first Chinese renewable leader to bring manufacturing jobs to the U.S., and this expansion marks the company’s first-ever U.S. manufacturing investment.

    Prior to GPEC, Broome was shaping Kalamazoo, Michigan’s economy through a university, life science and venture capital strategy. Broome founded Southwest Michigan First from a small metal desk at the regional Chamber of Commerce, with a $150,000 operating budget and a $1.7 million shortfall. Five years later, Broome had raised $55 million and earned the organization recognition as a Top 20 economic development agency in the country. Also honored as Michigan’s Economic Developer of the Year, Broome built the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, launching 14 life science start-ups and 23 new ventures.

    Broome serves on several boards and commissions, including the City of Phoenix Commission on the Economy; Arizona State University Economic Council; ASU Technopolis Advisory Board and Arizona Association for Economic Development. He was chair of the International Economic Development Council’s 2008 annual conference and chaired the economic development subcommittee for the City of Phoenix 2006 bond program. In 2009, he was the commencement speaker at Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs graduation. He is also an invited guest lecturer at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Kalamazoo College, Western Michigan University, University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.

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  • Peter Gross, PE

    Peter Gross, PE

    • Vice-President, Mission Critical Systems Bloom Energy

    Peter Gross, leads the Mission Critical Systems group at Bloom Energy, the leading manufacturer of solid oxide fuel cells.

    Prior to joining Bloom, he was the Managing Partner for HP’s Carbon, Power and Critical Facilities Services where he was responsible for strategic technology planning and business development. He was the co-founder and CEO of EYP Mission Critical Facilities, Inc., the premier consulting and engineering firm dedicated to the design and operations of data centers. In this role, he has played a pivotal role in the rapid growth of EYP MCF’s business since its founding in 1997, leading to its acquisition by HP in 2007.

    Peter is recognized as a thought leader in the mission-critical information and infrastructure design realm, has published numerous technical papers in the field, and is a frequent speaker at international events. His focus centers on mission-critical facilities, high-reliability design, energy and sustainability. Peter has more than 25 years’ experience in the engineering and design of power systems as applied to data centers, trading floors, command and control centers, and telecommunication and broadcasting facilities.

    Peter has been at the forefront of many innovative concepts that have contributed to the data center industry evolution, such as the HP modular, pre-fabricated FlexDC product and he was co-awarded a patent for Direct Current power distribution topology. He is presently focused on transforming the data center architecture through the use of fuel cells.

    Prior to joining EYP MCF, Peter was Chief Engineer at Teledyne Inet, a manufacturer of UPS systems and a partner at PRK Associates. During his career, he has managed projects for numerous Fortune 500 companies and public sector clients.

    Peter is the recipient of 2010 Data Center Dynamics “Outstanding Contribution to the Industry” award.

    A Senior IEEE Member and a Registered Professional Engineer in CA, AZ, MI, OH and NY, Peter co-founded the Critical Power Coalition, an organization focused on public policy for improving the reliability and the quality of electric power in the public and private sectors. Peter graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest, Romania with a degree in electrical engineering, and received an MBA from California State University.

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  • Lee Cooke

    • Former Austin Mayor

    Lee Cooke has 39 years of executive and leadership experience in the public and private sectors. He has spent 22 years as Founder/CEO of Habitek International, Inc., a private holding company providing strategic policy counsel to emerging companies. As CEO of U.S. Medical Systems, Inc., a bio-medical subsidiary of Habitek, Cooke assisted the company in raising $6.5 million in private equity funding and going public on the NASD Bulletin Board.

    It was sold to Sharps Compliance, Inc in 1998. Habitek purchased U.S. Medical Systems, Inc. from Sharps, and became a provider of patented FDA authorized Class 1 medical device polymer products to Dentsply International. In 1999, Cooke served as President/CEO of good2CU.com, a business-to-business Internet destination site for credit unions and led the sale of the technology to FundsXpress in 2000. In 2002, Cooke served as Chairman/President/CEO of Tanisys Technology, Inc., a publicly traded automatic test equipment company (ATE). Cooke played a pivot role in restructuring the company, promoting the entry into the flash market and assisting management in a LBO from major stockholders. Tanisys was sold in 2003 to Spirox/ATE Worldwide LLP-Taiwan. Additionally, Cooke has been involved in a number of real estate projects including the Y at Oakhill, a $5,000,000 commercial land development located at the intersection of US 290 and Highway 71 in Southwest Austin Texas and Cooke serves as a Managing Partner of the entity that acquired two apartment complexes in the West Campus of the University of Texas. He has consulted with numerous companies in real estate, insurance, medical, architectural, financial, technology and telecommunications.

    Prior to his recent activities in the private sector, Cooke spearheaded Austin’s efforts to become one of the nation’s premier high tech and music centers. Cooke served as President/CEO of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce from 1983-1987, and Mayor, Mayor-protem and Council Member of the City of Austin from 1977-1991. During his tenure as Austin's 53rd Mayor, Cooke oversaw the investment of $3.5+ billion in new private capital into Austin. Achievements included construction of a new convention center, company expansion by Motorola (FreeScale), IBM, AMD, 3M and location of Applied Materials, Inc to Austin., approval of 44 miles of freeway construction (183 and Ben White), relocation of the new airport to Bergstrom Air Force Base, creation of the Austin Technology Incubator and the vision to aggressive support the Balcones Canyonland Preserve of 35,000 acres to remain in a natural state in Austin and western Travis County.

    Before entering public service, Cooke served in manufacturing, human resources and engineering management positions, during his career at Texas Instruments (1972-83). From 1991 to 2008, he served on seven publically traded corporate boards. Cooke completed graduate work toward an MBA (did not complete) at the University of Texas in 1970-1 and received his BA from Louisiana Tech University in 1966. He served five years in the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer including a tour of duty in Viet Nam where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He has lived in Austin with his extended family for 42 years.

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