KHTS Santa Clarita Unsung Hero - Jim Backer
Jim Backer of JSB Development has helped develop the Santa Clarita Valley into what it is today, but it’s what he does when he’s not making sure foundations are poured that makes him the latest KHTS Santa Clarita Unsung Hero.
Backer was born in California but moved backed to his mother’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, when he was 2 years old.
“I really had a great experience growing up in Omaha,” Backer said. “I grew up playing a lot of sports and I went to Omaha Central High School,” he said, adding the school has a more than 150-year history with famous alumni such as Henry Fonda and Gale Sayers.
Read more KHTS Santa Clarita Unsung Heroes features
After Backer graduated from high school, he moved west to attend Stanford University and earned his degree in history.
“When I went to Stanford, I had some great experiences,” said Backer. “I was an intern for a U.S. Senator from Nebraska in Washington D.C. and I was a file clerk for a law firm. When you are a history major, everyone thinks you should be a lawyer because no one else will hire you, but I actually got into development through the graces of Jim Dickason.”
Dickason was the former president of The Newhall Land and Farming Co. and was considered a leader in the development of Valencia during his years as CEO of Newhall Land from 1969 to 1987.
“About a week after graduation, (Dickason) invited me to come down and spend the day at Newhall to see if it would work for them and/or me,” said Backer. “So I came down, met everybody and I had the opportunity to be one of the young guys at the company. For the first couple of years, I lived on the west side and commuted, and then I moved here in 1986 and have lived here ever since.”
Jim was founding president, a board member since inception and current president of the SCV Education Foundation
“We were going to a lunch meeting, which was the first meeting of the education committee of the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce,” said Backer. “Which consisted of Tom Lee, myself and the five superintendents, and that was kind of my involvement in the community.”
The SCV Education Foundation promotes Santa Clarita public schools by providing independent funding for worthy educational projects, programs, and events that support and go beyond the standard curriculum.
“Being a part of it from the start was a lot of fun,” Backer said. “Seeing how people interacted and seeing what people wanted to accomplish.”
Backer has also been involved in the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce and the Foundation for Children’s Dental Health, a nonprofit organization committed to providing dental care to children of low-income working families.
JSB Development is a full service real estate development company based in Valencia, California. Focused initially on commercial and industrial real estate, the firm has since expanded into the mixed-use and residential markets. The firm was started in 2000 by Jim Backer.
To date, the company has developed 43 buildings totaling 1.1 million square feet, including several large office complexes within the Santa Clarita Valley. Additionally, the company has entitled several other projects totaling over 1,100 residential units and 1 million square feet of commercial floor area. For more information on JSB Development, click here.
“I think Santa Clarita is a great place to live -- I’ve been here 30 years,” Backer said. “There is something special about a place that tries to identify needs and creates organizations to fill those needs. There a lot of people here that make this a great place to live and make it a special community.”
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