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Retail Traffic

EXPERT Q&A: Developing a Political Career

Hours after losing his race for a Senate seat in Arizona, Jim Pederson talked with Retail Traffic on the similarities between being a developer and a politician.

Retail Traffic: How do you feel about your showing in the race for senator in Arizona?

Jim Pederson: I feel good about it. I think the campaign was successful in delivering the message to Arizonans that there are some serious issues that need addressing if we are to have an environment that supports quality growth. Some of the areas in which we are failing: schools, health care, the environment and economic development. The main reason I ran was to establish a business climate for the state. The well-being of the state and the well-being of the individuals in this state are not mutually exclusive. And, those same issues are directly tied to my endeavors and the success of my business.

RT: Do you have any plans to run for political office again?

Pederson: Once I have a chance to get rested and reflect I'll decide. I felt we were severely off track in the state. I am going to stay active in public issues, now, whether that means public office I don't know.

RT: What were you able to leverage in your background as a developer in your race for a Senate seate?

Pederson: It was an overall business sense. Advisors warned me that politics is not like business, but, I find it is very much like business. You are bringing together divergent personalities, thoughts and ideas to form and operate as a team. That's the success of a politician. And, as a CEO, I meld all the threads together to make a project profitable.

RT: What is most responsible for your success as a developer?

Pederson: It is orientation to product. At the end of the day we are in the manufacturing business. We secure the land, build the building and lease the space. We produce product and you have to have a product that appeals to your customer. It can't be cookie-cutter. It has always got to be fresh and meet the distinct needs of the community it serves. In our industry, I am concerned more developers take a bricks-and-mortar attitude with projects. We are tied in to the well-being and growth of our communities.

RT: What are the challenges of developing shopping centers in Arizona?

Pederson: Growth. We are the fastest growing state in the country and that has provided a very good environment for someone in my business to do business. That can be a double-edged sword. While we have communities sprouting up all the time, the challenge is to have adequate infrastructure that offers a high quality of life. When our communities suffer, we all suffer.

RT: What lesson did you learn from your first failed attempt at retail development?

Pederson: You learn you are going to have setbacks. A setback is never permanent. I think you learn more from your setbacks. But you have to be patient and know that you are in it for the long haul.

RT: With the campaign over, what are you most looking forward to?

Pederson: Returning to the Pederson Group. I have missed the day-to-day running of a company I started decades ago when I didn't have two nickels to rub together.

RT: Was the $10 million from your personal money well-spent?

Pederson: I think it was! If it will help steer Arizona in the right direction, then it was a good investment.

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