By Adam Moore

The Corridor Business Journal is proud to introduce another outstanding class of Forty Under 40 honorees, all of whom have been selected for both their profes­sional achievements and dedicated service to our communities.

This marks the 13th year the CBJ has presented the award to 40 of the Corri­dor’s most successful young profession­als. More than 100 people were nom­inated this year, and a committee of previous honorees was gathered to make this year’s selections. The honorees were celebrated at an awards dinner, held Oct. 11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in down­town Cedar Rapids.

Like previous classes, the Class of 2017 is undoubtedly hard-working – they reported putting in an average of 51.6 hours a week, just above last year’s average of 50 – and business-focused. Twenty-five of this year’s 40 honorees work in business fields, as opposed to ed­ucation or law, and six have started their own companies or organizations. Half of this year’s class holds a C-suite, director or partner-level position.

That leadership perspective shined through in our annual honoree survey, which asked, among other things, about the biggest issue fac­ing the Corridor to­day. Nearly half of this year’s class cited work­force and business re­cruitment challenges, while six cited sustain­able land development as the region’s most pressing challenge and three said affordable housing – a fact per­haps reflecting the fact that all but one of this year’s honorees re­sides in Linn or John­son counties.

“The secret is out! The Corridor is a wonderful place to live,” wrote Robin Boudreau, the founder and CEO of Iowa City-based nonprofit No Foot Too Small. “Unfortunately, we are growing at a rate that we struggle to keep up with.”

Sarah Madsen, corporate counsel for TrueNorth Companies, agreed, saying that “thoughtful development” is need­ed in the Corridor, and that “commer­cial offerings and in­frastructure need to keep pace with our residential growth.”

This year’s class also seemed to chafe a bit at our question about what people should know about their gen­eration in the work­place, whether due to the popular notion of millennials as self-ab­sorbed or because they fall into the “in-be­tween” status marking the common start and end points for the various generations (i.e. 1965-84 for Gen X, 1984-97 for millenni­als). Many proffered the view that gener­ational distinctions and traits are a poor shorthand for defining people and em­phasized the importance of understand­ing people on a deeper level.

“I’m an early Gen Y’er [millennial] with the habits and work ethic of Gen X and baby boomers,” wrote Gerald Be­ranek, founder and CEO of Cedar Rap­ids-based BeraTek Industries. “Despite the press on millennials, our generation is capable of doing hard work to produce the results any employer needs. The way we get to the results are different than the way it used to be done.”

“A lot more goes into making a person, defining their work ethic and inspiring them to be a part of an organization than the year printed on their drivers license,” added Heather Day, a project manager with Stanley Consultants.

It’s a vantage point that makes us hopeful for the future as the Corridor works to attract and retain talented work­ers, increase its diversity and include more people in the important task of develop­ing our region. If there’s a takeaway from this year’s class, perhaps it is this: Forget the differences and get to work. That’s cer­tainly a sentiment we can agree with.

This year’s honorees:

Ali Ahmad
Brad Axdahl
Gerald Beranek
John Boller
Robin Boudreau
Josh Budke
Craig Byers
Adam Carros
Keith Dahlby
Samantha Dahlby
Charlie Damschen
Heather Day
Ethan Domke
Adam Ebert
Julie Golding
Carly Grantham
Kimberly Hillyard
Samuel Jones
Nick Kaeding
Ashlynd Kohli
Sarah Madsen
Melissa McCarville
Jillian Miller
Susan Moore
Jen Moreland
Anne Morman
Benjamin O’Connor
Mindy Olson
Whitney Pino
Betsy Potter
Aaron Robertson
Gerald Seals
Quintin Shepherd
Ben Snyder
Paige Swartzendruber
Travis Thompson
Stephanie Van Hemert
Brock Worley
Kyle Zimmerman
Sarah Zimmerman