Every two years, Development Counsellors International honors young professionals from across the globe for exceptional contributions to the economic development industry and to recognize the profession’s rising stars.
This year, two professionals from Panama City were selected to join the elite “40 Under 40” Class of 2017 for their outstanding achievements, experience, innovation and track record to the community and profession.
Among the 40 young professionals honored, Jennifer Conoley, Economic Development representative for Gulf Power, and Scarlett Phaneuf, vice president of Bay Economic Development Alliance, were chosen as among the “new breed of results-driven place makers in the economic development world.”
Conoley has been with Gulf Power for more than four years, and is responsible for developing and deploying global marketing and attraction efforts to help promote Northwest Florida as a top business location. She also works with other agencies across the area and state to help improve the area’s business development programs.
“I was very honored to receive the recognition,” said Conoley, who at 33 years old, has called Panama City home for the past 10 years. “The acknowledgment of my hard work and dedication to this profession gives me a strong sense of pride and makes me excited about the future.”
Along with her position at Gulf Power, Conoley also serves in several leadership positions that support economic development in the area including past chair of the Business Innovation Center, vice-chair of CareerSource Gulf Coast, and as co-chair of Alignment Bay County’s operating board. She sees herself continuing to impact the lives of those around her by being useful, responsible and compassionate.
"I plan to continue to learn and adapt to the ever changing economic industry and contribute as much value as I can to my company, community and the region."
Her hard work has not gone unnoticed, said Rick Byars, Community and Economic Development general manager at Gulf Power.
“Jennifer's recognition as being a top young professional in the economic development profession is an outstanding accomplishment,” Byars said. “It is Jennifer's hard work and continuous professional development that led to her recognition. I am extremely proud of her accomplishment.”
Joining Conoley in the select group of young leaders that, “aren’t afraid to disrupt industry standards and raise the bar for achieving community prosperity,” Phaneuf has served as the vice president of Bay EDA for the past four years. At only 32 years old, she said she feels most successful when helping the community become successful, and is extremely humbled and honored to be a recipient of the award.
“We have to remind ourselves that economic development is not a sprint but a marathon,” she said. “We are successful when helping to locate a company that is creating new jobs that impact our neighbors, family and friends for generations to come. That’s why I get up and do this job every single day.”
As a volunteer member of various boards and committees across Northwest Florida, such as CareerSource Gulf Coast and Florida’s Great Northwest, Phaneuf knows it takes a lot of people working together to help grow the region’s economy. Bay County’s economic development, she said, is very promising.
“We are seeing the seeds that we’ve been planting for years finally come to fruition, and the overall state of the local, state and national economy is breeding tremendous activity for us,” Phaneuf said. “Gulf Power and other groups and agencies are critical and valued partners in economic development in not only Bay County, but in the entire Northwest Florida region.”
Becca Hardin, Bay EDA president, said that Phaneuf represents a bright future for the economic development world and honored to have her on the Bay EDA team.
"We are beyond proud that Scarlett has received the 40 Under 40 DCI award,” said Hardin. “Scarlett is a true professional, focused on what it takes to help create jobs in our region.”
The 40 Under 40 awards are the only awards of its kind recognizing young talent in the economic development profession. An independent six-member selection committee evaluated and chose the winners based on their exceptional contributions to the economic development industry. The award’s program is managed by Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based firm that specializes in economic development marketing.
DCI officially announced the winners Jan. 30, at a ceremony during the International Economic Development Council Leadership Summit in Jacksonville, Florida, and will feature an in-depth profile of each recipient on its website during 2017.