Local director among winners of economic development awards

Kelly Flenniken

The leader of Mesa County organization is among the winners in a new awards program honoring young economic development professionals.

Kelly Flenniken, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership, received one of the 40 Under 40 awards from Development Counsellors International (DCI).

DCI, a New York-based firm specializing in economic development and tourism marketing, announced the winners during an International Economic Development Council leadership summit in Orlando.

A committee selected the winners from a pool of more than 150 candidates based on their contributions to the economic development industry.

“The people chosen by the selection committee represent a bright future for the economic development world,” said Andy Levine, president of DCI. “They are a new breed of results-driven place makers. We’re  very pleased to see Kelly among the winners.”

Jay Seaton, publisher of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and chairman of the GJEP board, said Flenniken’s selection isn’t surprising to those who know and work with her. “She deserves these kinds of public accolades. But what people may not realize is that she also does the nitty gritty, behind-the-scenes work that actually gets things done.”

Flenniken joined GJEP in 2008 as business development manager and earned recognition in that role for developing a marketing and communications plan that included a new brochure and revamped website.

In 2010, the International Economic Development Council presented an award to GJEP for the best website for an organization from a community with 25,000 to 250,000 people.

The Economic Development Council of Colorado subsequently named Flenniken as its rookie of the year, an award presented to an economic development professional who’s worked in Colorado for at least one year, not more than three years.

Flenniken was promoted in 2011 to executive director of GJEP.

In addition to her work with businesses interested in expanding or relocating operations in Mesa County, Flenniken has joined in efforts to draft and implement a new economic development plan for the county.

Earlier this year, GJEP launched its latest fund-raising campaign to raise $1.5 million in financial support to fund its efforts over the next five years.