Petersburg, Indiana – Ashley Polen Willis, Executive Director of the Pike County Economic Development Corporation has been announced as a recipient of the 2021 Economic Development 40 Under 40 Award, the biennial award recognizing rising stars under 40 years old in the economic development industry.

The awards program is hosted by Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based integrated marketing firm that works with economic development and travel organizations around the globe, and Jorgenson Consulting, a leading national executive search firm serving organizations in non-profit, economic, and community development industries. An independent selection committee of six economic development professionals and site selection consultants evaluated a record number of 200-plus nominees.

“This past year has demonstrated the importance of economic development in building and sustaining resilient communities,” said Julie Curtin, president of DCI’s economic development practice. “I’m especially impressed by the diverse perspectives and skillsets of this year’s winners as they lead communities to prioritize new ways of thinking, building inclusive and equitable economies, and bringing an attitude of fresh new ideas to the challenges in the industry. The economic development future is bright with these young leaders.”

“A successful economic development strategy must focus on improving the skills of the area’s workforce, reducing the cost of doing business and making available the resources business needs to compete and thrive in today’s economy while attracting those businesses,” said Mark Flint, President of Pike County Economic Development Corporation. “Ashley is a rising leader and focuses on new thoughts, ideas and different skill sets that will help our community grow.”

Ashley Polen Willis is a graduate from the University of Southern Indiana, with her Master in Public Administration and Bachelors of Science in Public Relations and Advertising. She is the Executive Director of Pike County Economic Development Corporation, where she obtained her Economic Development Finance Certification through the National Development Council. Willis focuses on business attraction/retention, infrastructure, talent attraction, workforce development, and entrepreneurship. Willis was also appointed to serve on Lt. Governor, Suzanne Crouch’s Indiana Main Street Council and serves as President of the Southwest Indiana Development Council.

“The economic development industry is in good hands with these rising leaders,” said Todd Jorgenson, managing director and principal of Jorgenson Consulting, Inc. “The communities they represent—from Tuxpan, Mexico to Covington, Kentucky to Québec, Canada—are fortunate to have the smart, innovative ideas of this year’s winners.”

DCI and Jorgenson officially announced the winners at a virtual awards reception held in conjunction with the International Economic Development Council Leadership Summit.

For more information on the 40 Under 40 awards program and this year’s winners, visit