Congratulations to the 2016 NADO Photo Contest Winners!

resizeCongratulations to the 2016 NADO Photo Contest winners and runners-up!  This year, 143 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 where over 1,400 votes were cast.

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 great 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:  Region VII Planning and Development Council (WV)  

The Story:  The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel arch bridge spanning 3,030 feet over the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, West Virginia.  This work of structural art was completed on October 22, 1977 to solve a travel challenge: the bridge reduced a 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads to less than a minute.  The bridge is the longest steel span in the Western Hemisphere and the third highest in the United States.  The bridge is such an icon for West Virginia that it was chosen to represent the state on the commemorative quarter released by the US mint in 2006.  In 2013, the National Park Service listed it in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant historical resource.  This photo was taken on a foggy May morning during the West Virginia Regional Planning and Development Councils’ annual conference held in Fayetteville. The Regional Planning and Development Councils are organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for the residents of West Virginia by promoting the social, economic, educational, environmental, and general welfare of their respective regions, including the development of infrastructure and improvement of transportation.

Building Vibrant Places


Organization:  New River Valley Regional Commission (VA)

The Story:  Each year the New River Valley Regional Commission hosts an annual dinner for all the elected officials, chief administrative officials, planning commission chairs, and planning department heads in the region.  Pulaski County hosted the event at the Draper Mercantile and music was provided by the Indian Run Stringband. The 2016 event was expanded to include mobile workshops held earlier in the day.  One workshop offered bike rides and van tours to explore the New River Trail State Park.  A second workshop toured Pulaski Grow, a workforce development project focused on hydroponic gardening and soft-skill development.  Over 100 attended, networked with peers, and celebrated a community within the region.      

Investing in Our Regional Economy


Organization:  Middle Georgia Regional Commission 

The Story:  SparkMacon opened in November 2014 as the Middle Georgia region’s first community makerspace: an innovation center equipped with tools and equipment to teach STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) skills, while also offering a place for entrepreneurs to experiment and collaborate. The Middle Georgia Regional Commission led initial efforts to launch SparkMacon and was also a founding sponsor. In January 2016, SparkMacon hired Nadia Osman to serve as its first Executive Director. In this photo, Nadia is configuring a 3D printer that allows SparkMacon members to develop high-end prototypes to be used in their experimental designs.

Sustaining Our Communities


Organization:  Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia

The Story:  The Coastal Regional Commission’s Planning Department provides ongoing support to schools to design and implement plans, develop travel plans & perform walk audits, and to promote the Safe Routes to School program along the coastal region of Georgia. Here, more than 100 children, parents, and volunteers came out to walk and bike to Tybee Island Maritime Academy, a charter school in the beautiful community of Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. Many students live within walking distance and others were driven to the starting point at Tybee Island Memorial Park. Students walked and biked to school along multi-use paths and a grid network of quiet residential streets. The school promoted safe bicycling and helmet usage. The Coastal Regional Commission of Georgia, Georgia Safe Routes to School Resource Center, Healthy Savannah, Savannah Bicycle Campaign, and the City of Tybee Island came to support the students. Students regularly walk or bike to Tybee Island Maritime Academy and Tybee Island is recognized as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists.      

People’s Choice  


Organization:  Region II Planning and Development Council (West Virginia)  

The Story:  The Memorial Fountain was designed and erected in the heart of Marshall University’s campus as a tribute to the 75 plane crash victims who perished November 14, 1970. Each year a commemorative service is held on the anniversary of the tragedy reminding us of the resiliency and cohesion of the Huntington, West Virginia family. The ceremony includes the traditional laying of a wreath, and the fountain’s water is turned off until the following spring in memoriam. The Memorial Fountain was created by sculptor Harry Bertoia and was dedicated by Marshall University President John G. Barker on Nov. 12, 1972. The fountain stands more than 13 feet high and weighs over 6,500 pounds.     


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments


Organization:  Northern Arizona Council of Governments 

The Story:  Passing through eight states for a total of 2,500 miles, US Interstate 40 is a key commerce corridor connecting east and west coast markets. Following the Historic Old Route 66 route in Arizona, I-40 also connects many rural communities and Native American reservations to essential services. It accommodates approximately 17,000 vehicles per day, 33% being freight haulers.  Arizona Department of Transportation, Northern Arizona Council of Governments, Flagstaff MPO, and Central Yavapai MPO coordinate multi-modal planning efforts in this region.

Building Vibrant Places


Organization: Region XII Council of Governments (IA) 

The Story:  Merchants’ Park in Carroll, Iowa was originally dedicated in 1949 and served as the home for the Carroll Merchants, a city baseball team sponsored by a local industry. The facility has seen continuous use but was in the need of a facelift, some stabilization, and modernization. The stadium is currently owned by the City of Carroll and serves as the home field for two high schools as well as host to a variety of tournaments, playoff games, and visiting colleges. The picture shows a warm summer night during the new Carroll Merchants’ inaugural season. The COG assisted a local non-profit and the City in fund-raising efforts for the building’s restoration, including grant writing. Several staff members are involved in volunteering for the non-profit driving restoration and operation of the re-started college-league Merchants.

Investing in Our Regional Economy 


Organization:  Great Falls Montana Development Authority

The Story:  For over 30 years, community leaders in Great Falls, Montana tried to put together a rail-served industrial site to provide space for new and growing agricultural processing operations and other manufacturing and distribution businesses. The region did not have a single rail-served heavy industrial zoned site available.  That is now changing and on the evening of September 8, 2016, BNSF ran the first train into the new Great Falls AgriTech Park. Two long-time local businesses looking to expand and two global companies have bought the first four sites in the Park. The Great Falls Development Authority partnered with the City of Great Falls, Cascade County, the Montana Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, HUD, BNSF, and the businesses to create the first phase of what eventually will grow into a 1,300 acre complex.

Sustaining Our Communities


Organization:  Northern Kentucky Area Development District

The Story:  During the 2016 Northern Kentucky Spring Senior Games held May 9-23, hundreds of seniors from throughout the region came together to compete in a variety of indoor and outdoor sports and recreational games. Here, Cheryl Losey of Wilder takes a swing at the softball hitting contest at Boone Woods in Burlington. NKADD and the Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living are among several community partners who work in collaboration to coordinate the games twice each year.



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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