Columbus Region’s Irene Alvarez and Justin Bickle Win 40 Under 40 Awards in Economic Development

January 28, 2019

Download this press release (PDF)

Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Irene Alvarez, vice president of brand marketing and communications at the Columbus Partnership, and Justin Bickle, director of project management at Columbus 2020, have been selected as winners in the economic development profession’s 40 Under 40 awards, the only award of its kind recognizing young talent in the economic development industry.

An independent five-member selection committee chose the winners based on their exceptional contributions to the economic development industry. The awards program was managed by Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based firm that specializes in economic development marketing, and Jorgenson Consulting, a leading national executive search firm serving organizations in economic and community development industries.

“We are delighted to see Irene recognized for her innovative work in the economic development profession,” said Alex Fischer, president and CEO at the Columbus Partnership. “Irene’s continuous efforts to market the Columbus Region on local, national and global platforms have been instrumental to our community’s success.”

In her role, Irene leads initiatives across various sectors to meet Columbus Region marketing objectives and drives efforts to build the Columbus brand and global identity. Additionally, Irene aligns marketing activity among the Columbus Partnership and its teams at Columbus 2020 and Smart Columbus.

“Justin’s strong management skills and tireless efforts on behalf of the projects he oversees have made a sizeable impact on residents throughout the Columbus Region,” said Kenny McDonald, president and CEO at Columbus 2020. “This recognition highlights the role young, talented minds play in growing vibrant places.”

In his role, Justin leads Columbus 2020’s project management team activities and active pipeline of expansion projects, placing an emphasis on the strategic qualification of growth opportunities and best-in-class client service. Justin consults clients through the site location process to help them take advantage of the Columbus Region’s business resources.

The Econ Dev 40 Under 40 award is designed to discover the economic development profession’s rising stars.

“These young economic development professionals represent the future of our industry,” said Julie Curtin, president of DCI’s economic development practice. “The selection committee had a challenge of selecting only forty, but we are delighted by the smarts, initiative and game changing mindsets represented in these finalists. Economic development is in good hands with these young leaders, and Irene Alvarez and Justin Bickle are certainly no exception,” Curtin added.

DCI and Jorgenson officially announced the winners last night at an awards reception during the International Economic Development Council Leadership Summit in Fort Lauderdale and will feature profiles of each on the awards website.

“The awardees this year embodied passion for the profession and a commitment to excellence, innovation and place-making,” says Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and 40 Under 40 selection committee member. “The field of economic development is evolving and we’re seeing many people rise up to assure this profession is on the edge and inclusive. Congrats to the new class of 40 Under 40.”

For more information on the Econ Dev 40 Under 40 winners, visit


About Columbus 2020
As the economic development organization for the Columbus Region, Columbus 2020’s mission is to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth across 11 Central Ohio counties. In 2010, hundreds of business and community leaders developed the Columbus 2020 Regional Growth Strategy, and the Columbus Region is now experiencing the strongest decade of growth in its history. Consistently named among the best economic development organizations in the country, Columbus 2020 expertly guides companies through the location decision process. Through strategic business outreach and customized research, the Columbus 2020 team leverages public, private and institutional partnerships to grow the Columbus Region’s economy and strengthen its national and international competitiveness. Funding is received from more than 300 private organizations, local governments, academic institutions and JobsOhio. Learn more at

About DCI
Considered the leader in marketing places, Development Counsellors International (DCI) specializes in economic development and tourism marketing. The agency has worked for more than 500 cities, regions, states and countries since it was established in New York City in 1960. Learn more at

About Jorgenson Consulting
Jorgenson Consulting has worked diligently over the past 25 years to establish itself as a premier national executive search firm. With a focus on the fields of non-profit, economic and community development, they partner with clients to help them identify and secure the highest caliber of executive talent. Learn more at

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