#GTK Emerging Leader: Claire Bruns

Jul 8, 2024 | Emerging Leaders Profiles

3 Fun Facts

  • I am an Arizona native.
  • I played on the GCU Women’s Softball Team.
  • I love to bake.

What’s a recent economic development/career win you experienced?

A key aspect of my role as a Business Development Manager for the City of Goodyear involves managing the InnovationHub, a dynamic space designed to support small business owners and entrepreneurs. This year marks a significant milestone for the InnovationHub as we celebrate 10 years of empowering business owners by providing essential resources and reducing barriers to business ownership. The InnovationHub offers a range of services, including educational workshops, networking events, and mentorship programs, all aimed at equipping entrepreneurs with the knowledge and connections they need to thrive. Additionally, our reservable workspace provides a professional environment where business owners can focus on their ventures. I am proud to be a part of a community that values innovation and is committed to supporting the dreams of its entrepreneurs.

What’s something you wish you knew prior to starting your current role?

I used to think that having more connections would have made my transition into this role smoother. However, getting involved, meeting new people, and building a network has been an enjoyable and integral part of my professional growth. I am grateful to AAED for providing opportunities to connect with other economic developers from whom I have learned so much. This journey has taught me the importance of continuous learning and networking.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming economic developers?

Be strategic about getting as involved as possible. Networking is the most crucial part of economic development, and sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people. Building relationships, rapport, and trust can go a long way. Additionally, understanding the market and business environment is essential. It’s crucial to stay informed and keep your finger on the pulse of the community you serve.

Who do you look up to in the field, and what advice might you give young professionals about mentorship?

I look up to my supervisor, Darah Mann. She is incredibly knowledgeable about economic development and is passionate about small business, entrepreneurship, and the growth of the West Valley. She is supportive and intentional about helping our team develop our strengths. Having a mentor is an invaluable resource, offering guidance and insight that you cannot gain alone. Whether you have experience or are just starting, a mentor’s wealth of knowledge can help you develop in ways you never imagined.

What would you tell your younger self about economic development?

I would tell my younger self that being an economic developer is a unique and exciting opportunity. It allows you to make a significant impact on the community by supporting businesses and helping entrepreneurs. The role is incredibly rewarding as you get to be a part of the growth and transformation of the West Valley. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the successes, and know that your work is making a difference.