A local development official has been recognized at the top of her career field in Missouri.
The Missouri Economic Development Council presented the 2018 Professional Economic Developer of the Year award to Jessica Craig, executive director of Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County.
Craig, who also serves as MEDC president, received the award Wednesday at the MEDC Annual Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks. MEDC’s group of six counselors selected Craig for the award, particularly for her critical role in drawing Nucor Steel to establish a steel rebar micro-mill in Sedalia, according to a press release.“The MEDC professional developer of the year award is maybe the most prestigious award of the year because it comes from my peers,” Craig told the Democrat. “There’s about 400 of us that are members of MEDC, so to receive that award from my peers is very special to me. It’s very humbling, and I could have not been more surprised and just humbled by the recognition.”
MEDC identified Craig as the “glue that held a state and local team together” to land the micro-mill, which will bring 250 full-time jobs and $250 million in investment from Nucor.
Rob Dixon, director of the state department of economic development, called Craig one of the “best economic developers in Missouri.” “If it wasn’t for Jessica Craig, there wouldn’t be a steel mill in Sedalia,” Dixon said in the release. “Her work to bring Nucor to Missouri was a testament to her leadership and professionalism, and she is a model for every economic developer in our state.”
Craig coordinated with multiple entities for the Nucor project, including the Missouri Department of Economic Development, the Missouri Partnership team, Kansas City Power & Light, Union Pacific, multiple state agencies, land owners, community partners and the company itself.
“In this profession, it really does take a village to be able to recruit a new company to our community and help existing businesses expand,” Craig said. “There are so many players at the table carrying their weight. There’s a lot of coordination. There’s a lot of project management. There’s a lot of persistence.” The project received significant international attention and is expected to have long-lasting positive effects on the state, according to the release. Nucor is building the micro-mill on the northeast side of Sedalia and expects to hire employees at an average salary of $65,000 a year.
Nucor isn’t the only company to locate in Pettis County in the past year, though. Craig welcomed Capstone Precision Group to the county while assisting in expansions for WireCo WorldGroup and Custom Truck One Source’s local subsidiary, Load King.
Amidst an economic upswing, companies are steadfastly seeking to expand facilities, products and investment, creating what Craig described as the strongest economic momentum of her 16 years in development. EDSPC has the responsibility of capitalizing on this period of growth, she said. Craig praised executive assistant Betty Wood and the EDSPC Board of Directors as major players in the county’s recent successes.
“We have one of the strongest, if not the strongest team in the state of Missouri for business retention and business attraction,” she said. “Without that team, we would not have been able to accomplish much of what we have.”