Laura James Named Interim CEO for Coachella Valley Economic Partnership

PALM SPRINGS – Laura James has been appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, the organization announced today.

The appointment follows the recent announcement by current CEO and Chief Innovation Officer, Joe Wallace, of his plans to retire in mid-2024.

James has been with CVEP since 2014 and has held the position of Vice President of Innovation for the past five years. During that time, she has been responsible for overseeing a number of CVEP’s most innovative projects, including the Coachella Valley Fast Pitch, spearheading the COVID-19 business impact survey, and launching the monthly Morning Insights event, which brings together entrepreneurs and recently relocated workers. Additionally, James has more than 10 years of experience in economic development strategy.

She holds an M.B.A. from Auburn University, an undergraduate degree in education, graduate certificates in economic development, nonprofit management, and information systems management. James is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Economic Development institute and is also a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) from the International Economic Development Council; she is one of only 1,100 active CEcDs in the United States. Her leadership roles throughout the years have been marked by innovation, and a commitment to fostering economic growth in the region.

“I am honored to assume the role of Interim CEO at CVEP during this transition period,” James said in a statement. “CVEP has played a pivotal role in driving economic prosperity in the Coachella Valley, and I am committed to ensuring a seamless transition as we strive to grow the regional economy in sustainable, meaningful ways.”

Her husband is Stone James who has been the Economic Development Director of Cathedral City since 2017. Today, he confirmed to Uken Report that he is stepping down to become city manager in Twentynine Palms.

“We are confident Laura’s leadership will provide stability and guidance during this period,” CVEP’s Board Chairperson, Deborah McGarrey said in a statement. “Her wealth of experience in economic development and her deep understanding of the Coachella Valley make her the ideal candidate to assume this interim role.”

The mission of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership is to incite a vision-driven economic transformation in the Greater Palm Springs region. Established in 1994, the nonprofit organization is a vital innovator of regional business development initiatives, fostering entrepreneurship and diversifying industry. As the only regional entity with the capacity to execute technology-led economic development, the partnership has dedicated significant resources to incubate cutting edge businesses through its pioneering iHubs in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. CVEP is committed to promoting a diversified, year-round economy through business attraction, retention, and expansion. Visit or call 760-340-1575.

Image Sources

  • 2024-Laura-James-800×568: CVEP