Economic Development’s Rising Stars

40 Under 40 Economic Development logo

Want to know who the rising stars are in economic development? Click on the link above to view the full list of the industry’s top innovators, deal closers, job creators, investment attractors and marketing extraordinaires. What’s even more amazing about these rock stars?

Picked by a five-member selection committee the industry’s top 40 under 40 share with us their thoughts on the biggest challenge facing the economic development industry (can anyone say workforce?!) and their passion for places.

Each week we’ll feature a more in-depth profile of each economic developer, so keep coming back if you’re interested in learning more.

Rising Star of the Week: Kara Wood

Kara L. Wood. City of Grand Rapids. MichiganAs Economic Development Director for the City of Grand Rapids in Michigan, Kara Wood leads the city’s economic development efforts.

Learn more about Kara’s efforts here.

What’s on the minds of young economic developers? How do they see the industry progressing? What do they consider to be the most overlooked issue facing economic development? And what’s their favorite cartoon?

Click on the names below to see their answers and connect with the economic development industry’s biggest rockstars.

1. Joel Akason, Director of Business Investment, Greater MSP, Minnesota

2. Jake Austin, Director of Business Retention and Expansion, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Florida

3. Jason M. Ball, President and CEO of Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce, Kansas

4. Patrick E.W. Barker, Executive Director, Frederick County Economic Development Authority, Virginia

5. Todd Battle, President, Kenosha Area Business Alliance, Wisconsin

6. Jamie N. Beier Grant, Director, Ottawa County Improvement Corporation, Ohio

7. Jonathan S. Bittner, Deputy Commissioner, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Alaska

8. Emily J. Brown, Economic Development Specialist, International Economic Development Council, Washington, D.C.

9. Lisa Corcoran, Manager of Marketing and Communications, Calgary Economic Development, Alberta

10. Andrew Duffell, President and CEO, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, Florida

11. Thomas Ashley Edwards, Executive Director, Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, Mississippi

12. Matt Forshee, East Georgia Community & Economic Development Manager, Georgia Power, Georgia

13. David Gilford, Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York

14. Heather Gramm, Director of Regional Growth and Retention, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Maryland

15. Broderick Green, Director of Business Development, JAXUSA Partnership, Florida

16. Michelle Hadwiger, Director of Corporate Development, Colorado Office of Economic Development, Colorado

17. Liz Hayden, Business Development Specialist, City of Hamilton, Ohio

18. Jennifer R. Hernandez, Director of Economic Development and Special Projects, The Beacon Council, Florida

19. Amy Jauron, Economic Development Officer, Corvallis Benton County Economic Development Office, Oregon

20. Mandy Lambert, Commissioner, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky

21. Chris Lawson, Executive Director, The Hamilton Mill, Ohio

22. Ann Marie Miller, Executive Director, Buda Economic Development Corporation, Texas

23. Mark Morrissey, Director of Economic Development, City of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

24. Tim Mroz, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, The Right Place, Inc., Michigan

25. Katie Perry, Vice President, Southwest Michigan First, Michigan

26. Chris Petroff, Vice President of Business Development, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona

27. Jeremiah Quarles, Chief Executive Officer, DeSoto Economic Development Corporation, Texas

28. Matt Rookard, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Greater New Orleans, Inc., Louisiana

29. Paul Rumler, Executive Vice President and Chief Economic Development Officer, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Illinois

30. Janet Scott, Manager of Business Development, Enterprise Saint John, New Brunswick

31. Madison C. Silvert, President and CEO, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Kentucky

32. Christina Stimpson, Director of International Trade, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Alabama

33. Angela Talbot, Vice President of Economic Development, Greater Phoenix Economic Development Council, Arizona

34. Timothy Terrentine, Executive Vice President, Southwest Michigan First, Michigan

35. Nicholas T. Terzulli, Director of Business Development, Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, New York

36. Stephen Thompson, Consul and Senior Economic Officer, Ontario International Marketing Centre, Ontario

37. Alan Tio, President, Whitley County Economic Development Corporation, Indiana

38. Jefferson Traywick, Senior Project Manager, Birmingham Business Alliance, Alabama

39. Jennifer Wakefield, APR, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Florida

40. Kara L. Wood, Economic Development Director, City of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Selection Committee

The DCI 40 Under 40 Selection Committee is comprised of five industry thought leaders with a broad range of expertise. The committee includes a recruiter who specializes in economic development, previous 40 Under 40 winners, site selectors and industry leaders. Click on the photos below to see their depth of experience and why DCI is honored to have each serve on our 40 Under 40 Selection Committee.

2013 40 Under 40 Winners

Jon Baggett, Director, Dorchester County (SC) Economic Development
Clay Banks, Southwest Tennessee Regional Director, State of Tennessee, Department of Economic and Community Development
Charles Beasley, President & CEO, Mississippi Enterprise for Technology
Jerry Bologna, Executive Director, Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission
Kendra Borgen, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta (EDA)
Jennifer Bosser, Assistant Executive Director, Wake County Economic Development
Dan Bowman, Assistant Director, Allen Economic Development Corporation
Lisa Bradley, Business & Economic Development, City of Gulfport, MS
Ed Calvesbert, Former Deputy Secretary Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Government of Puerto Rico
Chris Camacho, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Greater Phoenix Economic Council
Steven Ceulemans, Vice President for Innovation & Technology, Birmingham Business Alliance
Cathy Chambers, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development, JAX USA Partnership
Chris Chung, Chief Executive Officer, Missouri Partnership
Dusty Duistermars, Manager, Site Location Services, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Amber Egnor Martin, Senior Business Development Manager, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Kelly Flenniken, Executive Director, Grand Junction Economic Partnership
Kristin Fletcher, Executive Vice President, Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership
Matt Forshee, President & CEO, Fayette County Development Authority
Steve Fritsch, Director, Regional Business Development Team NEO
Chris Gahl, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Visit Indy
Ken Harris, President & CEO, Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Victoria Hirschberg, Business Development Consultant, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development
Kevin Hughes, Economic Development Director, City of Suffolk, VA
Mohammed Khudhier, Executive Director, Anbar Economic Development Council
Cameron McCoy, Executive Director for the Corporate Engagement Office, University of Oklahoma
Rodrick Miller, President & CEO, New Orleans Business Alliance
Kim Moore, Marketing Manager, City of Dallas, Office of Economic Development
Jennifer Owens, Vice President, Southwest Michigan First
Trevor Pawl, Program Director, PURE Michigan Business Connect
Jonas Peterson, President & CEO, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation
Harold Pettigrew, Director, DC Department of Small & Local Business Development
Scott Resnick, City Councilman, City of Madison
Joel Richardson, Executive Director, Trade, Strategic Policy and Marketing, Department of Economic Development, Government of New Brunswick, Canada
Sarah Roberts, Senior Vice President, Economic Development, Greater Waco Chamber
Gilberto Salinas, Executive Vice President, Brownsville Economic Development Council
Shelby Schneider, Director of Marketing & Economic Development Specialist, Saratoga Economic Development Corporation
Jay Schwedler, President & CEO, Sumter Economic Development
Joshua Smith, City Manager, City of Hamilton
Kadie Ward, Director of Marketing & Communication, The London Economic Development Corporation
Claudia Zimmermann, Director of Economic Development, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Development Counsellors International’s 40 Under 40 Award?

DCI’s 40 Under 40 is a list of 40 people who have achieved success in economic development before turning 40 years old.

Who is eligible to win?

Candidates must be 40 years old or younger as of December 31, 2014.

Can former 40 Under 40 winners be nominated again?

Yes, as long as they are under 40 years old as of December 31, 2014.

When is the nomination deadline?

Nominations must be filled in completely and submitted by October 31, 2014.

Can a person self-nominate?

Yes, a nominee can either be self-nominated or nominated by a third party.

I have someone who is a perfect fit, but I don’t know the exact details on their success. What should I do?

You can either email the name and contact information directly to Susan Brake at susan.brake(at) or you can send them an alert. We’ll be sure to follow up with each person directly letting them know that someone thought they would be a good fit for the award.

How can I nominate someone for DCI’s 40 Under 40?

Nominations must be submitted online.

When will winners be notified?

Winners, and all others who submitted an application, will be notified of the status of their nomination, the first week of December 2014.

When will DCI announce its 40 Under 40 winners?

DCI will announce and recognize winners at the International Economic Development Council’s Leadership Summit in Palm Beach, Fla., January 25-27, 2015.

Will this be an annual award?

No. We will release the award every two years. Check back in 2016 for the nomination form to fill out for potential candidates in 2017.

What are the qualifications for DCI’s 40 Under 40?

We are looking for young leaders who have raised the bar in economic development: those who have brought innovation, high standards, strong character and a track record of success to their community and the profession. Candidates must be 40 years old or younger as of December 31, 2014. For this particular award, service providers to the economic development industry are not eligible.

Who decides who will be in DCI’s 40 Under 40?

Our selection committee represents a broad mix of representatives from the economic development industry including recruiters, economic developers and site selectors.

How are the winners chosen?

After we receive the nominations, the selection committee will review and rank each nominee. DCI will compile all rankings to determine the top 40.

What is required of those who are selected?

Candidates who are selected must make themselves available for an interview with our digital team. They are also required to send us a photo to include in the website. In addition, if they are available we’d love for them to attend a special recognition dinner during IEDC’s Leadership Summit in Palm Beach in January.