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ASU Trailblazer: Danny Chavez

Class of 2013, B.A. in Political Science

ASU alum Danny Chavez is leading the charge to create thousands of jobs across the U.S.

Though originally from Florida, Chavez’s family eventually moved to Cibolo, Texas, where he graduated high school. His dad was commissioned into the military through ASU’s ROTC Detachment 847, which is how Chavez knew about Angelo State. Even though he looked at other schools, ASU was where he wanted to be.

“Angelo State made me feel I had the highest chance to succeed in pursuing my education, and also met most factors I considered with school like cost, quality of education and proximity to my family,” Chavez said.

“Angelo State made me feel I had the highest chance to succeed in pursuing my education.”

His time at Angelo State gave him direction and set him up for success.

“My professors were great teachers and mentors to me, and I still reference their lessons today in my career field,” Chavez said. “I felt prepared for the workforce and the real world. It set me apart, and this helped me identify my path. I’ll always be grateful to them for that, and there will always be a lasting effect on my career because of this.”

Danny Chavez with his parents in front of a graduation cake

After graduating in 2013 with his bachelor’s degree in political science, Chavez entered the world of economic development when he did a six-month internship as a research analyst at Bexar County Economic and Community Development in San Antonio.

From there, Chavez’s career path led to a variety of positions from developing start-ups and consulting to leading policy-based economic development decisions and recruiting new companies to a given market. While he was the senior vice president for the McKinney Economic Development Corporation, Chavez was named the 2021 Innovation Advocate of the Year by D CEO Magazine.

“I created a first-of-its-kind economic development platform called the Innovation Fund,” he said. “It digitizes the economic development process and focuses on economic incentives to work with start-up companies. In two years, it has recruited over 33 companies to move to McKinney, creating thousands of jobs in technology for that area.”

In addition to this prestigious award, Chavez has been named one of North America’s Top 50 Economic Developers, recognized in the Dallas 500 as an influential leader in North Texas, and nominated for recognition as a Top 40 Under 40 Professional in both Dallas and San Antonio. He has also been the featured speaker at many events for the work he’s done with the technology ecosystem.

“Those are all big highlights that are important to note,” Chavez said. “But they do not really have the impact that the work I’ve done will have on people who want to get into jobs that otherwise they would have never had access to.”

“What has always stuck with me in economic development,” he added, “is it doesn’t matter how many companies you’ve accrued or media attention you’ve received, it’s the fact that someone you don’t know will never know that the job you brought in is now bringing it full circle to them in any given market. It’s very humbling to think about.”

Now the chief business recruitment officer for the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance in North Carolina, Chavez leads a 15-member partnership to recruit new businesses to a 14-county region, creating many more jobs.

“I have always loved economics and business,” he said. “What has kept me going is figuring out the way those two things interact in my career field and solving those challenges.”

Danny Chavez with his team at Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

“One of the biggest goals I have is building the best regional economic development organization in the United States,” Chavez added. “I am motivated by challenging myself to be the best and to build the next generation of economic development programs, platforms and best practices for the 21st century. I enjoy leadership and hope to help develop the next generation of practitioners.”

ASU didn’t offer an economics degree when Chavez was a student, but now that a B.B.A. in economics is available, he is looking forward to more ASU students following in his footsteps.

“The economics degree at Angelo State gives another opportunity to students who want to get a background and have a passion for economic development,” he said. “They will have an avenue to perform and work with their degree.”