Announcing the 2021 NADO Impact Awards

Posted on: May 30th, 2019 by Brett Schwartz

Impact Awards Background

Each year, NADO recognizes member organizations that demonstrate valuable and effective approaches to regional economic and community development through our awards program.  The Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Awards (formerly known as the Innovation Awards), have recognized nearly 2,000 NADO member projects since 1986 for their creative efforts in advancing regional economic development and improved quality of life.  The breadth and scope of the winning projects is impressive and far-reaching and illustrates the important role NADO members have in supporting regional development.  Previous award-winning projects have showcased efforts in a variety of program areas including business and economic development, community health initiatives, emergency planning, brownfields, sustainability, technology, transportation, workforce development, and many others.  Click here to see an Esri Story Map of last year’s award recipients.

Click here to apply for a 2021 NADO Impact Award!

Awards winners have successfully leveraged their awards to bring additional resources to their regions and have also used the awards to better explain to their various audiences the important work they do.  NADO staff uses the award-winning projects to share your collective work on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies, as well as to provide peer-to-peer training and information sharing among the membership.

The Impact Awards are named after Aliceann Wohlbruck, NADO’s first executive director who served for 24 years as a tireless champion for regional approaches to economic development in rural communities.

The 2019 Impact Awards reception was held at NADO’s Annual Training Conference in Reno, NV

Benefits for Impact Award Winners:

Positive local and national attention:

  • Award-winning projects gain national recognition via, NADO News, and are often featured in NADO Research Foundation reports and case studies.
  • NADO’s legislative and research teams tap into the great resource of Impact Awards for testimony to Congress and as examples to share with federal agencies.
  • Awardees will receive an Impact Award certificate, a press release, and have the opportunity to take their photo with NADO President Kevin Byrd during a special photo session at NADO’s 2021 Annual Training Conference (ATC) in Portland, OR on October 16-19.  The certificate, photo, and press release will be sent to each awardee to announce the award and share it with regional partners, stakeholders, and media outlets.

Showcase your success and network with peers:

  • A special roundtable reception will showcase award-winning projects during NADO’s 2021 ATC. Winners are also sometimes included in best practice sessions during the conference and in future conferences.
  • In addition to the roundtable reception at the ATC, awardees will have ample opportunities to talk with peers about their award-winning projects and share best practices.

Community and organization recognition:

  • Winning an Impact Award presents awardees with numerous opportunities to build the reputation of their organization with the communities they serve, regional stakeholders, funders, and potential clients; and recognize staff for their hard work and dedication to the organization.


  • Only NADO members can apply for the award.
  • If multiple regional development organizations, such as members of a state association, would like to apply for an Impact Award for a collaborative project, only one application needs to be submitted, but the lead applicant must be a current NADO member.
  • Only three applications per organization may be submitted.
  • Projects must show substantial quantitative or qualitative results in your region.  For a competitive application, address one or more of the following: uniqueness and level of impact; ability to be replicated; long-term viability and significance; inventive partnerships and collaborations; and/or creative funding mechanisms.


Applications will be accepted May 28 through July 16, 2021.  Click here to apply.

We look forward to hearing about the impactful work you are doing to serve your region!  Follow NADO News and our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.

Questions?  Contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected] or Laurie Thompson at [email protected].


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