Business & Real Estate

New Sacramento economic group hires CEO from Phoenix

Sacramento’s new economic development organization named its first chief executive officer Thursday, hiring a Phoenix executive who helped tutor the fledgling organization on how to set up shop.

The Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council, formed this year by a group of CEOs frustrated by the pace of economic development, hired Barry Broome as its CEO. Broome has spent the past decade as president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, where he was credited with helping recruit some 260 companies.

Broome’s hiring followed a nationwide search. “He ... has a top national reputation for economic development,” said Steven Oldham, who’s been acting chairman and CEO of the Sacramento-area group. “Barry’s name always surfaced.”

In the past couple of months, the Phoenix group has announced a handful of economic development coups, including the recruitment of Zenefits, an online human resources company, which is bringing 1,300 jobs to Scottsdale. GoDaddy, the Web domain company, said in October it is hiring an additional 250 workers for its technology center in Tempe.

Broome “has got a lot of knowledge about what’s going on in the Western states,” Oldham said. “He can hit the ground running.”

The Phoenix group has served as a role model for the local organization. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson introduced several of the early founders of the group to Broome more than a year ago. Broome visited Sacramento twice earlier this year to meet with dozens of CEOs, sharing information on budgeting and other facets of forming a new economic development organization.

Broome has known the mayor for about three years through Johnson’s work on the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which he now leads.

“Today’s announcement is a home run for the Sacramento region,” Johnson said in a statement released by the Greater Sacramento group. “I’ve seen firsthand the type of leadership and vision Barry Broome brought to the Phoenix region in terms of job creation and economic development.”

In an interview, Broome, 53, said he felt he was ready for the challenge of working in a state that has a reputation for not being friendly to business. “The chance to work with California’s economy is too interesting, too tempting,” he said. “California is not on the short list of business decisions (for corporate relocations) right now.”

He said Sacramento’s business community seems energized by multiple factors, including the city’s ability to keep the Kings from leaving last year. “People in Sacramento feel very positive about the future, at least the people I’ve met,” Broome said.

Nonetheless, he said Sacramento sometimes gets overlooked. “It’s a market that has a lot of work to do, to present its best case,” he said.

He said he isn’t daunted by the prospect of starting a new organization. He created an economic development group in southwest Michigan years ago. “There’s a certain amount of excitement that comes with building an organization,” he said.

The Greater Sacramento group isn’t starting completely from scratch. It’s merging with SACTO, the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization, and will take over SACTO’s headquarters and nine-person staff when the merger becomes complete sometime early next year. SACTO’s members began voting on the merger by mail last week and are expected to finish in January.

The Greater Sacramento group is still small compared to the organization Broome is leaving. The Phoenix group operates on a $4.7 million annual budget and employs 26 staff members.

In comparison, the Greater Sacramento group is starting with a $1.7 million budget, based on annual pledges of $100,000 from its founding members, including companies such as Pacific Coast Building Products, VSP, the Kings and The McClatchy Co., which owns The Sacramento Bee. The group hopes to develop an annual budget of at least $3.5 million.

Oldham, former CEO of SureWest Communications, said the $100,000 commitments were essential in recruiting Broome to Sacramento.

“We had to demonstrate the CEO interest,” Oldham said.

Oldham said Broome will be paid a base salary of $400,000 a year, about the same as he has made in Phoenix.

Call The Bee’s Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.