Erie County

Abbey Bemis wins 40 Under 40 Award in economic development

Submitted by ECEDC

SANDUSKY – Abbey Bemis, executive director, Erie County Economic Development Corporation won 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, 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.

“Abbey is very deserving of this recognition, she has raised the creditability and production of our organization. She always exceeds our expectations and is a true positive difference maker in our community” said Ted Kastor, ECEDC’s board president.

“My time at ECEDC has been some of the most rewarding years of my career,” said Bemis. “They took a chance on me when I was asked to lead, and as I grew into my role, I was surrounded by some of the most supportive and incredible people who were more than willing to share their insights and recommendations. Winning this award is really a testament to everyone who has supported me and help me grow, and now I’m more committed than ever to paying it forward and helping newcomers to our industry.”

Bemis, who has lead Erie County Economic Development Corp. since 2015, played a leadership role in bringing over $500 million in recent capital investment to the county, like the upcoming massive redevelopment of a former GM plant; attraction of Ardagh Group’s latest manufacturing plant; establishment of Mucci Farms’ U.S. headquarters; and expansion of an asphalt processing plant from international leader CertainTeed Saint Gobain.

Her proudest accomplishments, however, are the programs and services the organization has introduced in response to a dynamic economy and shifting business needs, which together have doubled the size of the organization. Examples include the recent establishment of the Firelands Forward regional workforce development initiative, business relief programs in response to COVID-19, or grant programs to increase downtown occupancy rates.

“The Sandusky area is on the rise,” said Bemis. “We have a vast and capable team across the county working hard to make this a place and environment where your business will be successful for the long term. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, large corporation or just looking to grow your business – we have some of the best resources around for you to succeed here.”

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

“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.”

“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.”

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