Congratulations to the 2018 NADO Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to the 2018 NADO Photo Contest winners and runners-up!  This year, over 100 images were submitted from members across the country that demonstrated what makes their regions great places to live, work, and play.  Images were judged in four categories:  “Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments,” “Building Vibrant Places,” “Investing in Our Communities,” and “Sustaining Our Communities.”  A “People’s Choice” winner was also chosen online by the public via our Facebook page.

Thanks to all of our members who participated this year and congratulations again to our winners!  Remember, it’s never too early to start snapping creative photos for next year’s contest.   

To view all of the photos that were submitted in this year’s contest, click here.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments

Organization:  Tri-County Council for Western Maryland

The Story:  This photo, taken in early spring 2018 from the Canal Place Heritage Area festival grounds, looks back towards the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad located in Cumberland, Maryland. In this historic county seat, transportation – including the railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal – has a rich history in what is the gateway to the Allegheny Mountains and home of the first federally-funded highway, the National Road. The Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania joins the northern terminus of the C & O Canal, Mile 0 of the 185-mile towpath in Cumberland for passage from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad offers passengers a round-trip excursion from Cumberland to Frostburg, Maryland with scenic views of the Mountain Side of Maryland along the way. Cumberland, Maryland was named the Blue Ridge Outdoors Top Adventure Town 2017 1st Runner Up.

Tri-County Council for Western Maryland is an Economic Development District comprised of three counties in Western Maryland including Garrett, Allegany, and Washington counties. Tri-County Council for Western Maryland continues to be an integral force for economic development, advancing infrastructure, supporting tourism, and providing small business loans in this area since 1971.

Building Vibrant Places

Organization:  Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission  

The Story:  This is the third public art project that the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC) has coordinated for the city of Montevideo, Minnesota. Rustician, which has already received national recognition as one of 2017’s best public art projects nationwide from the Americans of the Arts, is an antique tractor- turned-sculpture. The artist, Karl Unnasch from Chatfield, MN, visited Montevideo to collect stories from residents and history books and incorporated these stories into the stained glass, which is backlit by LED lights and embedded into the tractor.

The UMVRDC has been working to make it easier for small towns to add public art in their community.  With the belief that public art energizes public spaces and creates a more welcoming and beautiful environment, the UMVRDC helped organize the volunteer-driven organization called “Montevideo Arts Project” (MAP) in 2014 which is made up of local citizens, business owners, city staff, elected officials, and chamber of commerce staff with the goal of creating one public art piece per year. The UMVRDC, who has also done a regional public art plan and has been coordinating a regional art crawl for the 15th year, facilitates this public art process.  

Investing in Our Regional Economy

Organization:  Clearwater Economic Development Association,  Inc. (ID)

The Story:  This photo features a North Central Idaho high school student seeking an industry-recognized certificate through the Northwest Intermountain Metal Manufacturing Career Development Program (NIMM).  The NIMM program is a pilot, two-year, seven course training program that was developed by a collaborative between Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC), Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA), and the University of Idaho (UI).  The program’s purpose is to give rural high school students an opportunity to receive Career Technical Training (CTE) while in high school.  Forty students, one quarter who are female, come from 14 high schools located in North Central Idaho and Southeast Washington to participate in the program.

One-third of the students are earning a Mechanical Computer-Aided-Design and Drafting (CADD) certificate.  Two-thirds are earning an Electronic and Machining certificate.  Courses are offered online during the school year with hands-on training course work offered at LCSC for two summers.  CEDA was responsible for student recruitment, is currently coordinating monthly opportunities for students to tour regional manufacturing facilities, and is working with the Idaho Department of Labor and Northwest Intermountain Manufacturers Association (a local trade association of small business manufacturers) to set up student-to-work opportunities through newly developed Federal Apprenticeship Programs.

Sustaining Our Communities

Organization:  Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments

The Story:  The Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments serves 17,574 square miles of eastern Utah, covering four large counties with challenges as diverse as a declining coal mining economy in two counties to a booming tourist industry in one county to a large native American population in another where the Navajo Reservation stretches from Arizona into Utah.  Almost 90 percent of the land in the total area the agency manages is owned and controlled by the Federal government which puts a unique tax burden on those that live in the area and do business there. The goal of the agency is to bring counties together in economic, social, and educational progress.

This photo displays a cooperative effort of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, Carbon County, and the Carbon County School District to educate children in how fish populations are grown and aided by the hatchery process.  Many youth, even in these rural areas, don’t understand much about the natural world that surrounds them on the high Colorado Plateau and continuing efforts are being made to help them with that knowledge. Building the base of knowledge for the youth is one of the ways the association works toward a better future during these uncertain times in eastern Utah.   

People’s Choice

Organization:  South Western Oklahoma Development Authority

The Story:  In 2013, the Washita County 4-H and FFA Kids Farmers Market came into existence.  It is a partnership between the young and old and is a great inter-generational activity. This young three-year-old girl helps her grandparents with their garden and in return will sell vegetables at the farmers market in Sentinel, Oklahoma, located in the southwest corner of the state.  A nine-year-old grandson, a 4-H member, is also involved. These young people are learning hands-on skills from their grandparents about the importance of great nutrition and cooking healthy meals, how to keep the soil healthy, ways to address insects and weeds, and also have the opportunity to receive a monetary reward at harvest. The Town of Sentinel is very supportive of the young people selling vegetables. When the market sets up, the kids are usually sold out in 30 minutes. The Sentinel Public Schools is encouraging more youth to participate and have a new greenhouse at school this year. Many of the area’s families live in a food desert and promotion of local food systems is a priority.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments

Organization:  Middle Georgia Regional Commission   

The Story:  This photo was taken on August 10, 2018 as a severe thunderstorm approached downtown Macon, Georgia. A large shelf cloud became visible which normally indicates an impending storm with heavy rains and strong winds. While the ominous clouds kept people indoors, it’s the sunlight peering through the clouds that better represents the future of downtown Macon. The viewpoint overlooks the newly-renovated Poplar Street Commons, which became one of the largest public greenspaces in downtown. In the forefront is one of the first public arts pieces commissioned by NewTown Macon and funded by the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation.  Previously, the space had a large fountain running the length of the block that rendered the space unusable for community gatherings. Poplar Street now attracts large events like the Christmas Light Show Extravaganza and the Macon Beer Festival. Macon’s rich downtown history and architecture are also on display. The steeple of the First Baptist Church of Christ is shown peeping out between the background and Macon-Bibb County Government Center overlooks in the distance from the left.

Building Vibrant Places

Organization:  Central Florida Regional Planning Council   

The Story:  In 2018 the City of Frostproof, Florida marked its centennial with a weekend-long event to honor and celebrate the city’s history. The event was an opportunity to further the efforts of a partnership with the Central Florida Regional Planning Council and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The Competitive Florida Partnership helps a community value the assets that makes it special and challenges communities to set realistic goals for advancing their economic development visions. In this photo, members of the local Back Porch Revival Band perform at the Frostproof Wildflower Studios, a community-oriented working art studio and gallery that recently opened. Wildflower Studios participated at the of Frostproof Centennial Celebration by inviting local artists and hosting the “Frostproof Remembered Art and Photography Show and Contest”.

Investing in Our Regional Economy

Organization:  Region Five Development Commission (MN)

The Story:  This photo feature Miguel Mahlick, artist and owner of Tusk Metalworks in Central Minnesota. Miguel was hired by Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) to create a custom-made Harvest Table for the Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace in Little Falls as part of an ArtPlace America grant placemaking project.  ArtPlace America awarded $440,000 to R5DC in 2017 to incorporate placemaking activities and events into the Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace to connect residents to local artists and growers and celebrate the cultures of the region through food and art.

Sustaining Our Communities

Organization:  North Central Florida Regional Planning Council

The Story:   This photo, taken in September 2018, shows the Savion Park Apartment building that is part of an urban infill redevelopment project associated with Innovation Square.  The Square is the former eight-acre site of the Alachua County Hospital in Midtown, located midway between the University of Florida campus and downtown Gainesville, Florida.  The anchor of the Square is University of Florida Innovate – The Hub, a 100,000 square foot business incubator with a mission to build, drive, and support the spirit of innovation for the north central Florida entrepreneurial ecosystem.  The facility offers state-of-the-art wet laboratories and light manufacturing and office space, along with advising, mentoring, and education programs.  The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, in partnership with the University of Florida, worked to secure $18.2 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration funding to construct The Hub incubator facility.

We hope you can participate in next year’s photo contest.  Start taking pictures now and show off the great things happening in your region!  Please direct any questions to Brett Schwartz at [email protected].


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 and will receive the printed award certificates and other hardcopy materials should the project win an award.

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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