NADO Announces the 2015 Innovation Awards

For 29 years, NADO’s annual Innovation Award program has honored members who have made significant impacts on their regions through innovative approaches to problem solving and program delivery.  We are pleased to announce that the 2015 class of award recipients includes 115 impressive projects from 32 states!

NADO congratulates the 2015 Innovation Award-winning projects.  These projects showcase creative approaches to regional community and economic development that strengthen regions throughout the nation.  We applaud their efforts and impact!

This year, in partnership with Esri, NADO is pleased to present a virtual learning tool about the Innovation Award winners.  The 2015 Innovation Award Story Map allows users to see the geographic distribution of the award-winning projects, sort the projects by topic area, and click on individual pins on the Story Map to learn about each project.  We highly encourage you to check it out and share with project partners and other stakeholders throughout your region:

For more information, contact NADO Research Foundation Associate Director Brett Schwartz at [email protected] or Senior Program Manager Ciara Ristig at [email protected]

2021 NADO Impact Awards Recipient


  • East Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission, CLEAR Plan 2030
  • East Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission, Tour East Alabama
  • Lee-Russell Council of Governments, CyberZone: A Gap Financing Success Story
  • Lee-Russell Council of Governments, Providing Reliable, Safe, and Affordable Transportation Options for At-Risk Families Through Mobility Management


  • Juneau Economic Development Council, JEDC Innovation Summit
  • University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, Alaska Business Retention and Expansion Initiative


  • Central Arkansas Planning & Development District, Faulkner County Disaster Recovery Project
  • Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, Delta Bioenergy


  • Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Sonoma County Business Development Tools Program


  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, North Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force – Operation Deep Freeze
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Central Florida Regional Planning Council Areawide Plan
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Bicycling Trails of Natural North Florida
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council on behalf of the Florida Regional Councils Association, Statewide Coordinated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy


  • CSRA Regional Commission, CSRA Veterans’ Partnership
  • CSRA Regional Commission, Integrating Solar Land Uses: A Regulatory Template for CSRA Communities
  • Coastal Regional Commission, Public/Private Partnership for Transit Program Enhancement
  • Coastal Regional Commission, Regional Plan Digital Implementation Tool
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, 2015 GMRC Aerial Photography/LiDAR Consortium Project
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, King’s Hawaiian Expansion Project
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Training 2 Work Offender Job Training Program
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Historic Dannenberg Building Revitalization
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Middle Georgia Digital Economy Project
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Regional Website Service Program
  • Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, Braselton Bros. Store Rehabilitation
  • Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, Northwest Georgia IMCP Floor 360 Consortium
  • River Valley Regional Commission, Show Your Love of the River Valley Photo Contest
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Building a Tradition
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Local Government Finance Software
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Utility Management Made Easier Using GIS!
  • Three Rivers Regional Commission, Three Rivers Regional Commission Updated Website


  • Clearwater Economic Development Association, Addressing the Skill Needs of the Metal Manufacturer Supercluster


  • City of Norwalk, Produce Innovations
  • East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Region 10 Multi-Disciplinary Safety Team
  • MIDAS Council of Governments, Emerald Ash Borer – Community Tree Management Plans
  • Region XII Council of Governments, Western Iowa Advantage Employer-Educator Summit


  • Barren River Area Development District, “Be the Change”
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Bluegrass Medication Management Program
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Cross Kentucky Trail Master Plan
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Medical Career & Science Institute (MCSI) Youth Career Camps
  • Big Sandy Area Development District, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR)
  • Green River Area Development District, Senior Nutrition Initiatives
  • Northern Kentucky Area Development District, Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Guthrie Transportation Museum and Welcome Center
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Pennyrile Entrepreneur Network
  • Purchase Area Development District, Career Discovery Center


  • Greater New Orleans, Inc., Coastal Engineering and Sciences Program at the University of New Orleans


  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Northern Maine Forest Products Industry Cluster
  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Workforce Center of Excellence


  • Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, The Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress 2015-2025


  • Networks Northwest, Framework for Our Future: A Regional Prosperity Plan for Northwest Michigan
  • Western U.P. Planning & Development Region, Economic Development Service Delivery


  • Region Nine Development Commission, Telling the Regional Government Story Differently
  • Southwest Regional Development Commission, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program


  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Simpson County Health Care Zone Master Plan
  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Town of Pelahatchie – Multicraft International Expansion
  • East Central Planning & Development District, Philadelphia Log Cabin Restoration
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning & Development District, Marshall County MS-Roxul, Inc. / Public Infrastructure Improvements
  • South Delta Planning & Development District, Inc., Harrah’s Tunica National Emergency Grant – Partnerships
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Disaster Recovery / “High Availability”
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Three Rivers #NMTC Allocation


  • Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, Meramec Regional Planning Commission, and Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, Missouri Mobility Management Planning
  • Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, Regional Economic Development Program
  • Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, Truman Regional Education Center
  • Mo-Kan Regional Council, Mo-Kan My Map
  • Southeast Missouri State University – Institute for Regional Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment & Strategy Reports


  • Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, CITIES Program

New Hampshire

  • Nashua Regional Planning Commission, Granite State Future
  • North Country Council, Business Disaster Planning

New Mexico

  • New Mexico Association of Regional Councils (NewMARC), The Ristra Project

North Carolina

  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Building Economic Resilience in the Kerr-Tar Region
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Kerr-Tar Regional STEM Education Summit
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging, Surfing the Silver Tsunami: A Boomer, Senior, and Caregiver Expo
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Transportation Resource Center – Expanding Local Services
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council (Northwest Piedmont Service Corps), HOPE Crew Project – Raleigh National Cemetery
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, CDBG Handbook
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, GIS as a Tool for Targeting Efforts in Housing Rehabilitation Programs
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Survive, Thrive, Grow: Winston-Salem Small Business Development Pilot
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Turning Point Workforce Development Board Simulation Lab Project
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Newton-Conover City Schools Elementary Redistricting and Student Growth Estimation Model
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Web-Map Application for Public Fixed-Route Bus Service
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Workforce Anytime, Anywhere, for Anyone


  • Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, Utica Shale Real Estate Marketing Initiative


  • South Western Oklahoma Development Authority on behalf of the Southwest Region Executive Directors Association, Southwest Region Peer Exchange


  • Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation, 2014-2019 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy – Greater Eastern Oregon District


  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Core PA Global
  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Mann Edge Terrace Elderly Housing Facility
  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Regional Gas Utilization Initiative (RGUI)

South Carolina

  • BCD Council of Governments, Project STAND
  • BCD Council of Governments, Study to Assess and Mitigate Maritime Traffic and Military Activities along the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor
  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Catawba Regional Elected Officials Forum
  • Central Midlands Council of Governments, Walk Bike Columbia
  • Lowcountry Council of Governments, Lowcountry Regional Water System
  • Lower Savannah Council of Governments, LSCOG ADTRC and Savannah River Site Retirees Association Partnership
  • SC Appalachian Council of Governments, The Entrepreneur Friendly Toolkit
  • Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, Adapting in the Face of Crisis: Santee-Lynches RCOG Fire and Recovery
  • Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, Grand Strand Routing and Wayfinding Plan
  • Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, Murrells Inlet, SC Watershed Plan

South Dakota

  • South Eastern Council of Governments (South Eastern Development Foundation), SEDF’s Governor’s House Development


  • First Tennessee Development District, Alan Street Veteran Apartments
  • South Central Tennessee Development District, SCTDD Regional Disaster Preparedness & Business Resiliency Planning Program
  • Southwest Tennessee Development District, SOAR (Strategic Opportunities to Advance our Region)


  • Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Ark-Tex Transit Scheduling Software (CaBAW)
  • Capital Area Council of Governments, Regional Disaster Debris Management Plan Development
  • Heart of Texas Council of Governments, Heart of Texas Efficient Towns and Counties Co-Op
  • Houston-Galveston Area Council, Bringing Back Main Street
  • South Plains Association of Governments, South Plains Rural Planning Organization
  • Texoma Council of Governments, Helping Our People Excel (HOPE) GED Program
  • Texoma Council of Governments, Texoma Craft Beverage Strategic Plan


  • Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, East Central Vermont: What We Want


  • Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Appalachian Spring: Southwest Virginia’s Outdoor Recreation Initiative
  • George Washington Regional Commission, The Nomination of “The Meadow,” Birthplace of Secretariat, to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places
  • New River Valley Regional Commission, Renaming and Branding of the New River Valley Regional Commission
  • Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RIDE Solutions), Art by Bus

West Virginia

  • Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, Workforce and Economic Development Integration


  • Northwest Regional Planning Commission, Hazardous Waste Collection, Education, and Mapping Project

For more information about the NADO Impact Awards, click here.
To learn more about  previous award-winning projects, click here.


Applications cannot be saved and returned to at a later time. It is recommended you compile all of your information in advance in a word processor and cut and paste into the application below.

2023 Impact Awards

The primary applicant must be a NADO member. Project partners, both NADO and non-members, can be recognized under "Project Partners" below.

Primary Project Contact:
This person will be the designated point of contact for all future awards-related correspondence.

Organization Address

Project Location (if different from Organization Address)

Executive Director

Additional Organizational Information
Please upload your organization's logo which will be included on the winning project award certificate.

Project Information
This title will be printed on the award certificate for winning projects and in all 2022 NADO Impact Award materials and cannot be changed.

Project Summary & Questions
Please craft clear, thoughtful, and engaging responses to the following questions. Use the following sections to tell us how your project has made an impact, such as its use of creative funding mechanisms, efforts to create efficiencies or reduce costs, unique partnership models, and emphasis on building resilience and/or enhancing your region's quality of life.

For award-winning projects, the information provided below may be used verbatim to inform project descriptions that will be published in the 2023 NADO Impact Awards materials and included on the NADO website.

Please submit at least one photo showing your project in action. Please keep file size to a minimum (<2Mb) and use JPEG format. If uploading multiple files, ZIP files prior to submitting. If you have trouble uploading images they can be directly emailed to Brett Schwartz at [email protected] Include the project title they correspond to in the subject line of your email.

Note: Submitted photos may be used in NADO Impact Awards materials and in other NADO published materials with credit to your organization. Please also consider submitting photos for NADO's 2023 Photo Contest, which will be held this summer.

Your application is not submitted until you are directed to a confirmation page. If you have any questions or are unsure if your application has been submitted, please contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected]

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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

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