NADO Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary With a Highly Successful Annual Training Conference in Anchorage

Posted on: September 22nd, 2017 by Brett Schwartz

NADO marked its 50th Anniversary by hosting the 2017 Annual Training Conference in Anchorage, AK on September 9 – 12, 2017.  Over 500 attendees, representing 38 states and the District of Columbia, came together to learn, share best practices, network, and celebrate the accomplishments of regional development organizations from across the country.  Participants had a wide range of conference activities to choose from, including nearly 30 sessions and plenaries, nine Learning Labs, and six mobile workshops.  There were also numerous peer networking events including the Annual Innovation Award Roundtable Reception, the Opening Reception, and the President’s Award Dinner.  NADO members in attendance were also able to learn more about the organization’s governing process by attending regional caucus meetings, the 2017 Annual Business Meeting, and the Board of Directors Meeting.

Over 500 attendees, representing 38 states and the District of Columbia, came together to learn, share best practices, network, and celebrate the accomplishments of regional development organizations from across the country

Over 500 attendees, representing 38 states and the District of Columbia, came together to learn, share best practices, network, and celebrate the accomplishments of regional development organizations from across the country

A wide range of topics important to regional development organizations were covered at the conference.  The opening plenary featured six RDO executive directors who shared ways they are making their organizations indispensable to their regions.  Learning labs covered leadership and human resources topics for executive directors and board members; CEDS training on the content guidelines and infusing resilience into the planning process; and data tools and resources to improve the CEDS.  Conversation cafés provided an atmosphere for pure peer learning and information sharing with topics ranging from brownfields to broadband.  Breakout sessions offered attendees a glimpse at the best and most promising practices of their peers – topics included innovative approaches to economic development, workforce development, regional transportation strategies, fostering inclusive communities, supporting rural health initiatives, and much more.  The Tuesday plenary featured how communities and regions can embrace the principles of creative placemaking to boost economic development and improve quality of life.  The closing plenary highlighted strategies and tips to better advocate for regional development organizations at the federal level.  The presentation slides from the conference have been archived online and are available here.

Six mobile tour workshops explored sites in Anchorage and beyond, including a visit to the Port of Anchorage

Six mobile tour workshops explored sites in Anchorage and beyond, including a visit to the Port of Anchorage

Lots of learning took place outside of the convention center, as well.  Mobile workshop attendees traveled to Seward to learn about workforce development, culinary arts training, and marine wildlife protection; to Palmer to learn about the agricultural industry and local foods movements; to the Ted Stevens International Airport and the Port of Anchorage for a behind-the-scenes look at logistics and infrastructure; to the neighborhoods of Mountain View and Spenard to learn about redevelopment efforts underway; and to the local business incubator and coworking space The Boardroom to learn about Anchorage’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

2016-2017 NADO Executive Committee, EDA Leadership, and NADO Executive Director at the ATC, left to right: Joe McKinney, Executive Director, NADO; Misty Casto, Buckeye Hills Regional Council (OH); Kevin Byrd, New River Valley Regional Commission (VA); Linda Cruz-Carnall, EDA Philadelphia; Dennis Alvord, EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs; Jeannette Tamayo, EDA Chicago; Angela Belden Martinez, EDA Denver; Leonard Smith, EDA Seattle; Lynne Keller Forbes, South Eastern COG (SD); Doug Elliott, East Central Iowa COG; Scott Koons, North Central Florida RPC; and Jeff Kiely, Northwest New Mexico COG

2016-2017 NADO Executive Committee, EDA Leadership, and NADO Executive Director at the ATC, left to right: Joe McKinney, Executive Director, NADO; Misty Casto, Buckeye Hills Regional Council (OH); Kevin Byrd, New River Valley Regional Commission (VA); Linda Cruz-Carnall, EDA Philadelphia; Dennis Alvord, EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs; Jeannette Tamayo, EDA Chicago; Angela Belden Martinez, EDA Denver; Leonard Smith, EDA Seattle; Lynne Keller Forbes, South Eastern COG (SD); Doug Elliott, East Central Iowa COG; Scott Koons, North Central Florida RPC; and Jeff Kiely, Northwest New Mexico COG

NADO had the honor of hosting Dennis Alvord, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, who provided remarks about EDA’s current and future initiatives to support regional economic development during a luncheon plenary.  NADO is also very grateful that four EDA regional directors could attend the conference (Leonard Smith, Seattle; Jeannette Tamayo, Chicago; Linda Cruz-Carnall, Philadelphia; and Angela Belden Martinez, Denver) and participate in the luncheon plenary session on Monday and meet with NADO leadership to discuss the future of EDA.

During the President’s Award Dinner on Tuesday, Immediate Past President Lynne Keller Forbes honored Tim Ware, Executive Director of the George Washington Regional Commission (Fredericksburg, VA) with the 2017 President’s Award for his years of service to his region and to NADO, including his tenure as NADO president in 2011.

A special thank you to all our sponsors who made this year’s ATC happen!  All sponsors are listed on page 2 of the conference program.

The 2017 ATC may be over, but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s conference, scheduled for October 13 – 16, 2018 in Charlotte, NC.  See you there!

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