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The Critical Role of Young Professionals in Economic Development

With 2020 continually deemed an “unprecedented time,” economic developers have never been more important to bringing stability and opportunity to their communities, and young economic developers play an especially critical role. Their uniquely aware and diverse perspectives are advancing innovative and equitable approaches to economic development, and the future of the industry will be better for it.

In 2020, the young economic developer has been presented with the distinct chance (and challenge!) to make a lasting impression on their community in the wake of recent events. As 2021 40 Under 40 Selection Committee Member Michelle Comerford puts it, “economic development is arguably one of the most important components to a post-pandemic world [and] it is truly time for these rising stars to shine.”

Challenging times remain ahead of us and it is the rising stars of our industry that will lead the way to a brighter, healthier economic future. DCI first launched its biennial 40 Under 40 in Economic Development Awards in 2013 to recognize the impressive young professionals in our field. Since then, 160 economic developers have been recognized for their work – and many are now in leadership roles further advancing the economic development landscape.

Class of 2019 40 Under 40 Winners

The 2021 Economic Development 40 Under 40 Awards are especially important to me this year as young professionals are being challenged to raise the bar in the midst of so much change and uncertainty. I have hope and confidence that these young pros will lead our cities, our regions, our states and our provinces in a manner in which diverse people and diverse industries can flourish. 

So help us recognize those who are meeting the challenges of today and preparing their communities for a tomorrow. Nominate yourself or a colleague for the 2021 Economic Development 40 Under 40 Awards by October 30, 2020.

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