News & Views

Where Are They Now? Life After Winning DCI’s 40 Under 40

With nominations for the latest 40 Under 40 economic development class officially open, we grew nostalgic about our 2013 and 2015 winning class. We caught up with three of our past winners—Jonas Peterson, President & CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Kim Moore, Managing Director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, and Paul Rumler and Chief Strategy Officer for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce—to get the scoop on major professional success from the past few years, and what they’re hoping to accomplish in the economic development industry in the years to come.


Past Winners (1)

In the past 2-3 years, what are some of the best professional accomplishments you’ve achieved?

Jonas: For the past year and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance as CEO. Our organization has been growing rapidly and is pushing the bounds of what’s possible in the community and economic development. For me, the chance to help move a region forward and build one of the country’s most productive EDOs is extremely rewarding.

Kim: Since receiving my 40 Under 40 award, I have worked on several large headquarters relocations as well as interesting industrial projects. These projects have created over 6,600 new jobs, invested almost $567 million, occupied more than 5.5 million square feet and include nearly $45 million in negotiated incentives. Two years ago, I left the public sector after 15 years and joined the “dark side” of consulting with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank. I work on the Global Corporate Consulting team assisting with Economic Incentives Advisory and Global Enterprise Optimization (location strategy).

Paul: In October 2015, I helped the Quad Cities Chamber officially launch the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub. The Manufacturing Innovation Hub was central to the region’s economic development strategy to help manufacturers prepare for the changing technology, materials and processes in their industry. In November 2015, the Quad Cities Chamber also formed a partnership with the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) in Chicago to help integrate leading public/private research into small and medium sized manufacturers. The Quad Cities Chamber also partnered with the University of Illinois to receive a multimillion-dollar grant in late 2015 to support the state’s defense industry, including manufacturers. In November 2015, the Quad Cities Chamber joined state and local partners in announcing a new $200+ million state-of-the-art facility to retain a Kraft Heinz facility in the region, preserving at least 475 jobs. The Quad Cities was one of a few locations slated for a new investment while some facility locations faced closures or relocations.

In May 2016, I was recruited to be the Chief Strategy Officer for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What’s your best advice to economic developers wanting to take their career to the next level?

Jonas: Play to your strengths and study leadership. The best economic developers have the ability to build highly effective teams, partnerships and coalitions. Leadership really is the difference between good and great in our profession. I’ve also noticed that many successful economic developers have a unique skill set that sets them apart from the competition. It could be business recruitment, knowledge of a high-growth industry, marketing, investor relations or research.  Those that advance quickly find a way to become a strong leader and cultivate a unique skill set.

Kim: Cultivate your relationships, especially if you’re interested in becoming a consultant. Most of the big firms hire people that they know and have interacted with on projects. Also, continue to learn through exposure, experience and professional development. Consulting is full of lifelong learners who stay current on trends, best practices and cutting-edge initiatives (creative solutions). Establish and build a reputation of integrity.

Paul: Seek out mentors, inside and outside of the industry, for guidance, support and continued perspective as your career progresses. Then, be curious and open to the opportunities.

How did winning DCI’s 40 Under 40 award affect your career?

Jonas: I’m a huge fan of the 40 Under 40 program! We need to do everything we possibly can to encourage young leaders to build careers in community and economic development. For me, it’s about empowering the next generation, elevating our profession and ultimately transforming communities. The 40 Under 40 program helped advance my career and I know it will for many others. Thank you DCI for building up the next generation of leaders!

Kim: One of the most interesting effects of winning DCI’s 40 Under 40 award is that it led to me winning the same award from my community through the Dallas Business Journal. I was the only winner who had more than one recognition in the same year. It also allowed me to serve as a fellow for the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin through the Next Generation Project Texas, which is a nonpartisan project that identifies and engages the best and brightest talent from around the state; incorporating leaders from disciplines that have been historically underrepresented in global policy discussions.

Paul: It was humbling to be recognized among this well-regarded international group of economic development professionals. The award was energizing and served as a spring board to launch me and my work to new levels of excellence.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Jonas: I’m passionate about leading regional economic development organizations. I want to be involved with communities and teams that are interested in pushing the envelope, taking risks and building the most impactful organizations possible. In Las Vegas, we have that type of culture on the board leadership and current team, and I couldn’t be happier.

Kim: In the past, this has always been one of my favorite type of question to answer but today I find myself struggling to answer. I’m having so much fun in my new role as a consultant that I haven’t been looking forward in my life plan. I hope that I’m enjoying my work just as much as I do now and growing my reputation as a site selector by working on good projects with amazing companies. I would like to become more global with my work and I’ll always be looking for ways to grow my knowledge and experience.

Paul: I’m really excited about my newest opportunity in Grand Rapids where I’m involved in advancing the business growth and success in West Michigan. It will be a fun five years to see what we can continue accomplishing between now and 2021.

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