Jason Hester brings more than fifteen years of local and state-level economic development experience to his role as the President of the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation (formerly, the “Columbus Economic Development Board”). Building on the area’s strengths in advanced manufacturing, design, and foreign direct investment, Hester leads the area’s business retention and expansion efforts as well as business recruitment activities focused on targeted domestic and international opportunities.
Before joining the Greater Columbus EDC in August of 2010, Jason served as the central region director for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, where he led business attraction and expansion efforts in the state’s largest region. Over three years, he and his team successfully closed more than 220 competitive projects, calling for $5.1 billion in new capital investment and the creation of 38,000 new jobs.
Prior to his work for the IEDC, Jason served locally in two other Hoosier communities – Elwood and Kokomo. Leading one of Indiana’s premier local economic development organizations in Columbus provides Jason with the opportunity to work closely with regional partners, stakeholders, and existing businesses as they collectively build upon the community’s nationally recognized strengths to promote business investment and job creation activities.
A native Hoosier, Jason obtained his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2001 and a B.A. degree with honors from Oral Roberts University (Tulsa, OK) in 1996, majoring in International Community Development. Jason is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma, and in 2004 he earned the coveted Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) designation given by the International Economic Development Council.
Carley has most recently received her Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC) in May of 2019. Carley spent one year attending Grace College in Winona Lake, IN to then return to her hometown of North Vernon to finish her schooling at IUPUC. While attending IUPUC, Carley spent two years working as an Accounts Payable Analyst at the Circle K corporate office in Columbus.
As Project Manager for the EDC, Carley works to maintain procedural workflow while innovating systems that support board members and community partners. She dynamically interacts with corporate representatives to ensure they receive support for expanding or further establishing operations in and around the Columbus area. Carley uses multiple media platforms to promote Columbus, IN as a great place to work, live and play.
Executive Assistant & Office Manager
Beth Bailey joins EDC after seven years’ service as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Credit officer at First Financial Bank located in Columbus, IN. In that role, she regularly prepared reports for the Board of Directors, securely processed confidential information, and kept an organized work environment for the CCO.
Prior to her work at First Financial, Bailey served as the Administrative Assistant for First Christian Church in Columbus. Bailey holds an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Indiana Business College, and she brings over 14 years of administration experience to the Columbus EDC as she fills the position of Executive Assistant & Office Manager.