The NCEDA Economic Developer of the Year Award

NCEDA presents an annual award to the individual who best exemplifies leadership in the state’s economic development efforts. The North Carolina Economic Developer of the Year award is given in recognition of the winner’s contributions to expansions and projects completed during the previous calendar year.

Our Current Honoree

Irena Krstanovic
Holly Springs Economic Development

NCEDA named Holly Spring Economic Development Director, Irena Krstanovic, its 2022 Economic Developer of the Year.

Irena has served the Town of Holly Springs for over 20 years and has been Director of Economic Development since 2016. Irena is a forerunner in innovation for the Economic Development Industry. In 2021, under her leadership, two leading life sciences companies announced Holly Springs as their new home for state-of-the-art biomanufacturing facilities – including the largest life sciences project investment in North Carolina’s history (Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies), as well as a founding member in the field of biotechnology (Amgen). This success came about thanks to her dedication, trustworthiness, creative problem-solving skills, and natural ability to communicate with a diversity of audiences.

Previous Honorees

2021: Leigh Cockram – Rockingham County Economic Development
2020: Bob Joyce – Sanford Area Growth Alliance
2019: Michael Haley – Wake County Economic Development
2018: Norris Tolson – Carolinas Gateway Partnership
2017: Wanda Yuhas – Pitt County Development Commission
2016:  Chris Platé – Monroe-Union County Economic Development
2015:  Sandy Dunbeck – High Point Economic Development Corporation
2013: Terry Bralley – Davie County Economic Development Commission
2012:  Sam Powers – City of Asheville
2011:  Tom Johnson – Rutherford County Economic Development Corporation
2011:  Mark Pope – Lenoir County Economic Development Department
2010:  Don Porter – Raeford-Hoke County Economic Development Commission
2010:  Scott Millar – Catawba County Economic Development Corporation
2009:  Donny Hicks – Gaston County Economic Development Commission
2008:  Joanna Thompson – Wayne County Development Alliance
2007:  Ken Atkins – Wake County Economic Development
2006:  Jane Smith – North Carolina Southeast Partnership
2005: Mac Williams – Alamance County Chamber of Commerce
2004: Johnny Rogers – Martin County Economic Development Commission