GIS Planning Inc. of San Francisco, in partnership with fDi Intelligence, a division of the Financial Times of London, has presented Ioanna T. Morfessis, Ph.D., with its Economic Development Innovation Award.
Morfessis, president and chief strategist of the Phoenix-based international consulting firm IO.INC, received the award during a recognition ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 19, at the inaugural awards ceremony in Ft. Worth, Texas.
“Helping communities and companies create and execute successful change and growth strategies is my professional passion. I’m honored and humbled to receive this international award for doing what I love. For me, it’s about creating places that are good for children, youth and families through innovation that accelerates business opportunities, vibrant growth and healthy communities,” Morfessis said.
The award recognizes Morfessis’ economic innovations. She led efforts to create the first one-stop shop, Greater Washington Business Center, for small and minority business assistance in the U.S. She led efforts to establish the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, the first R&D park devoted exclusively to biotechnology in the U.S. (Montgomery County, Maryland). She led efforts to establish the Center for Advanced Research for Biotechnology, the first biosciences/genomics collaboration between a local government, a federal research institute (National Institutes of Health) and a university (University of Maryland). She was an early leader of integrating higher education into economic development, and of placing talent development as a cornerstone of economic development. She led efforts to put into practice the cluster-based theory of building economies (State of Arizona). She is presently innovating economic development strategy based on emerging industry sector trends to anticipate and stay ahead of the curve, and continues to innovate in economic development and business locations strategies in the U.S. and globally
“Dr. Morfessis has helped raise the bar for economic developers everywhere,” explains Anatalio Ubalde, CEO and co-founder of GIS Planning Inc. “Her creative approaches have both challenged and changed the ways we practice economic development.”
The judges created a list of candidates based on changing the profession, demonstrating courage, overcoming incredible odds, organizing a successful initiative that was likely to fail and trying to create a trend to improve the profession.
The judging panel included Anatalio Ubalde, of GIS Planning, San Francisco; Chris Knight, of fdi Intelligence, a division of the Financial Times of London, UK; and Joy Wilkins, of the University of Georgia.
“fDi Intelligence is very pleased to be part of the first Economic Development Leadership and Innovation Awards. It is a recognition of the winners’ outstanding contribution to the field of economic development,” said Courtney Fingar, head of content, fDi Intelligence.
Morfessis’ firm, IO.INC, is a visionary consulting practice that delivers expert and effective strategies and solutions to help leaders, organizations and places grow. She previously served as chairperson of the International Economic Development Council and is an honorary lifetime member. She founded three best-of-class economic development organizations: the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Greater Phoenix Economic Council and Montgomery County (Maryland) Department of Economic Development. During her tenure at these organizations, her work led to the attraction of more than $30 billion of private capital investment and the creation of more than 200,000 new direct jobs in these markets.
She serves on the boards of the Helios Education Foundation and the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.