Fairfax City Economic Development Director Chris Bruno was recently honored as a recipient of the 2023 Economic Development 40 Under 40 Award. It’s the biennial recognition given to rising stars under 40 years old in the economic development industry.
This national award was presented Jan. 29 during a reception in Tucson, Ariz., hosted by Development Counsellors International (DCI), a New York-based, integrated-marketing firm, and Jorgenson Consulting, a leading national executive- search firm. And Bruno was happy to be among those honored for their achievements in economic development.
“I’m thrilled to be included in the 40 under 40 class of 2023,” he said. “While I’m grateful for this recognition, it’s really the team at the Fairfax City EDA [Economic Development Authority] that does the work on a daily basis. Thank you to them and thank you to the teams at DCI and Jorgenson Consulting for this honor.”
An independent selection committee of six, economic-development leaders and site-selection consultants evaluated nominations based on demonstration of strong leadership, commitment and innovation every day in the workplace.
Bruno has served as the City’s economic development director since 2016. Prior to that, he was assistant general counsel at the New York City Department of Small Business Services. In addition, he currently serves as a Senior Fellow for Law and Leadership at New York Law School in New York.
In Fairfax City, he’s grown the Economic Development Office substantially – building teams to provide direct support to small businesses and leveraging opportunities to launch pilot projects and create unique connections. And last year, Bruno led the office through the development of its first-ever, strategic work-plan, building the framework for economic development in Fairfax City for the next five years.
“The City of Fairfax benefits from the perspective and experience that Chris brings to developing important partnerships and collaborations with far-reaching impacts to our economic development,” said Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read. “He’s bold and innovative, and he delivers on his vision. He’s put together a great team, and their energy will move our economy in the direction we want to move as a 21st- century community.”
Bruno’s efforts have also put Fairfax City on the economic-development map regionally. In 2019, he was a founding member of the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance. It’s a partnership of the 10 Northern Virginia jurisdictions which work toward promoting Northern Virginia as the best place in America to grow a business.
City Manager Rob Stalzer also appreciates Bruno’s achievements that improved the whole atmosphere for economic development in Fairfax. “Under Chris’s leadership, the Economic Development team has grown significantly in size, scope and importance,” he said.
“It was responsible for successfully overseeing our COVID-19 business-response programs, the redevelopment of publicly owned property to a higher and better use, the relocation of our City’s business incubator, the attraction and retention of a number of core businesses, and the development and deployment of unique and innovative pilot programs.”
Furthermore, said Stalzer, “Chris has been intensely focused on the cultivation of partnerships – including those with our neighboring colleges and universities, such as George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College – which has allowed him to leverage many opportunities to elevate Fairfax City Economic Development regionally and nationally.”
The 40 under 40 awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the International Economic Development Council 2023 Leadership Summit, held exclusively for Certified Economic Developers and senior managers in the profession.
“The purpose-driven work of economic development plays a vital role in communities around the world, and much of it is led by young professionals,” said Julie Curtin, president of DCI’s economic-development practice. “These 40 rising stars are contributing their creativity, dedication and leadership to make a tremendous impact in their communities and our industry as a whole, and I so look forward to what lies ahead in their careers.”
“The economic development industry continues to evolve, and these rising leaders are stepping up to the challenge,” added Todd Jorgenson, managing director and principal of Jorgenson Consulting. “Congratulations to these 40 winners – and to the communities that are lucky to benefit from their expertise.”