2023 SWREDA Annual Conference


2023 SWREDA Annual Conference

May 3-5  (Wed-Fri)
with an Executive Directors Institute
on Tuesday, May 2, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

DoubleTree by Hilton New Orleans
300 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The Southwest Region Economic Development Association (SWREDA), in partnership with the NADO Research Foundation, will hold the 2023 SWREDA Conference in New Orleans, May 3 – 5.  The conference is designed for staff from Economic Development Districts, Tribal Planning Grantees, University Centers, Revolving Loan Funds, and others engaged in economic development across the region. 

Topics to be covered include broadband; storytelling and concepts of a good website; outdoor recreation and tourism; water and the regional economy; affordable and accessible housing and healthcare; creative collaborations; and federal updates.  Build Back Better and Good Jobs grantees will share their work.  EDA will provide training on the new grants reporting software, EDGE. 

And, new this year, there will be an Executive Directors Institute on Tuesday, May 2, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  EDD Executive Directors, whether new to their organization, mid-career, or a seasoned professional, will find this to be an informative and timely opportunity to enhance your leadership skills.

SWREDA is located in the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Austin Region which covers the five-state area of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The EDA Austin Regional Office is providing support for this event.  Please visit this page frequently as it will be updated regularly.

Two Mobile Workshops Added to the Agenda!

We’ve added two interesting Mobile Workshop to the agenda.  There is a $35 to attend each one and you must pre-register for the Mobile Workshops. If you have already registered, it is easy to add a Mobile Workshop.  Click here for easy instructions to add a workshop. 


Thursday, May 4: 9:30 am – 12:00 pm | Ready, Set, Action: Nims Center Studios                                                                                                   

With almost 100,000-square feet, the Nims Center Studios has five stages, four green screens, over 40 production offices and editing suites, a mixing room, and state-of-the-art sound and film equipment.  Along with several other film production sites in Louisiana, the Nims Center has helped increase the state’s visibility as a go-to location for filing movies and television shows.  With funding from EDA, the studios were expanded through include a 5,000-square foot incubator facility where young and talented film industry entrepreneurs now work and UNO students, staff and alumni are able to take advantage of the studios' technology, industry internships and project development opportunities. The workshop will include a tour of the facility, and a presentation from key staff about the Center and its impact on the city, state and regional economies.  The Nims Center, along with RPC of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans received a Star of the Southwest Award in 2018. Limited to 25 attendees.  The bus will depart promptly at 10:40 a.m. and return to the hotel in time for the noon luncheon.


Thursday, May 4: 1:45 – 4:00 pm | Café Reconcile Builds Hope and Changes Lives                                                                                             

Café Reconcile provides paid workforce development training to young adults interested in seeking careers in the hospitality field.  The students prepare “soul-filled local dishes” in this destination, which is a favorite among New Orleanians.  Founded in 1996, the program has three priorities: support young adults in the development of their self-confidence, help them attain financial stability, and earn education or employment opportunities suited to their skills sets.  Café Reconcile’s workforce program has seen over 2,000 young adults (between the ages of 16 and 24) graduate. During this workshop you will learn about the program and enjoy a sampling of their delicious desserts.  Limited to 20 attendees.  The bus will depart promptly at 1:45 p.m. and return to the hotel in time for the Star of the Southwest Reception.


$345 Early Bird Rate (until April 21, 2023)

$395 Regular Rate (after April 21, 2023)

Register now via the NADO portal, my.nado.org.

You can register for the two Mobile Workshops now by visiting the NADO portal, my.nado.org.  Click here for easy instructions to add a workshop. 

Registration is also open for the Executive Directors Institute on Tuesday, May 2, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  EDD Executive Directors, whether new to their organization, mid-career, or a seasoned professional, will find this to be an informative and timely opportunity to enhance your leadership skills. You can add this workshop to your registration in the my.nado.org portal. There is no additional cost to attend. 

If you need assistance registering, email NADO's Operations Manager, Krystal De Leon, [email protected]

Cancellation Policy

Registrants who cancel their registrations will receive a full refund minus a $50 administrative fee.

Book Hotel

DoubleTree by Hilton New Orleans
300 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

This Canal Street location puts the best of downtown New Orleans in reach, from the French Quarter to the Superdome. They are next to Harrah's Casino and a five-minute walk from the Riverwalk and the Aquarium of the Americas. Enjoy city or Mississippi River views, and PJ's Coffee on the first floor. Every stay starts with a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Hotel reservation cut-off date: *April 10, 2023
*After this date, the discounted room rate is not guaranteed.

If you have questions about the hotel registration email NADO's Meetings and Membership Manager Brittany Salazar [email protected].

Get There



Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, locally known as MSY, is 14 miles from the conference hotel.

Airport shuttle: Not available

Parking - limited availability 

Self-parking: $30.00 per day 
Valet Parking: $48.00
EV Charging: Not available


Questions about the hotel? Contact Brittany Salazar at [email protected]
Questions about conference registration? Contact Krystal DeLeon at [email protected]
Questions about the conference content? Contact Laurie Thompson at [email protected]

2023 SWREDA Annual Conference

May 3-5  (Wed-Fri)
Click here to view the final conference agenda.

If you have questions about the conference content contact Deputy Executive Director Laurie Thompson at [email protected]


Wednesday, May 3

10:00 – 11:30 a.m.                     Plenary Session                                                    

EDGE: EDA’s New Platform for Grant Submission and Management

EDA has launched a new platform for grantees to use for grant applications and management.  Attend this session to learn about the platform from EDA staff.

  • Erika Ingram, Management and Program Analyst, US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Washington, DC
  • Kristine Denzau, Management and Program Analyst, US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Washington, DC

1:00 – 1:15 pm                           Conference Welcome                                           

  • Sandy Chancey, Chair, SWREDA and Executive Director, Eastern Plains Council of Governments, Clovis, NM
  • Jeffrey Roesel, Executive Director, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, New Orleans, LA

1:15 – 2:15 p.m.           Plenary: Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Lacy McManus, Executive Director, Future Energy, Greater New Orleans Development Foundation, New Orleans, LA

Madison Jackson, Project Manager, Oklahoma City Economic Development Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK

Susannah Byrd, Director, Economic Development and Workforce Excellence Division, University of Texas at El Paso, TX  

Jennifer Hankins, Chief of Strategic Partnerships, Tulsa Innovation Labs, Indian Nations Council of Governments, Tulsa, OK

  • Moderator: Craig Buerstatte, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs, US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, Washington, DC

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.                          Plenary: Good Jobs Challenge                      

  • Managing Apprenticeship as a Service: From Talent Consumption to Creation

Jennifer Carlson, Co-Founder and Executive Director, WTIA Workforce Institute and Apprenti, Seattle, WA

Monica Abeita, Executive Director, North Central New Mexico Economic Development District, Santa Fe, NM

  • Moderator: Betty Voights, Executive Director, Capital Area Council of Governments, Austin, TX                                                                                       

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm           Federal Legislative Update            

Even though the mid-term elections are in the rearview and the 2024 elections already in motion, Congress has a full agenda over the coming months.  During this session, you will learn about the latest development impacting the federal agencies that you work with on a daily basis.

  • Joe McKinney, Executive Director, NADO, Washington, DC

Thursday, May 4

8:30  – 9:30 a.m.            Plenary Session:  Creative Collaborations 

Across the five-state region, EDDs are partnering with a number of other entities engaged in various aspects of economic development.  This session will highlight examples of EDD partnerships with universities, Native American tribes, chambers of commerce, other regional and economic development organizations.  As well, you will learn about ways that EDA is encouraging interagency collaboration for local projects.

9:40 a.m. – 10:45 am                Concurrent Sessions

Broadband: The Next Connection                                                                           

As communities around the country work to capitalize on state and federal funding opportunities to expand broadband services in the most underserved locations, new challenges are emerging. In this session learn about digital equity and digital inclusion and how regional development organizations are ensuring that service expansions and implementations benefit those most in need. 

The Power of Storytelling                                                                               

Many economic development organizations (including Economic Development Districts, Councils of Governments, Regional Planning Commissions, and Regional Councils) are often not well-known entities in their communities despite their pivotal roles in regional development.  Telling the story of your organization’s role in successful projects and programs will build your community of supporters, encourage greater participation in your public engagement endeavors, increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of your role as an economic development leader, and build confidence in your organization’s abilities and impact among your many stakeholders.  Learn from an expert in public relations and creative approaches to storytelling.

  • Erica Allison, Strategist & Founder, Formation PR + Brand, Hendersonville, NC
  • Moderator: Juan Rodriquez, Executive Director, South Texas Development Council, Laredo, TX

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.           Concurrent Sessions

Building Resilient Regions through Outdoor Recreation and Tourism   

The outdoor recreation industry provides more than health and happiness to Americans; it helps drive the national economy with an economic output of $862 billion and 4.5 million jobs. As regions look to build more resilient economies, outdoor recreation planning, development, and branding have emerged as impactful strategies.  Join this session to hear regional approaches advancing the outdoor recreation economy and interactive peer discussion on regional goals and challenges. 

Communicating Water to Sustain Your Regional Economy               

Water is life, and economies hinge on a consistent and safe supply. But our future is predicted to be hotter and drier, and we are already seeing frequent and prolonged droughts throughout the southwest. So why is it so hard to convince our citizens to protect and conserve something we can’t live without? Join this experiential session to explore effective communications approaches, techniques, and tools to build a more water resilient future.

  • Sarah Diefendorf, Director, Environmental Finance Center West, Oakland, CA
  • Kathleen Kirkpatrick, Project Director, Environmental Finance Center West, Montgomery, AL

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm                  Plenary Luncheon                                    

U.S. Economic Development Administration Updates

Alejandra Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, Washington, DC

1:45 pm – 3:00 pm                    Concurrent Sessions

Affordable and Accessible Housing: Imperative for Strong Economies  

Accessible and affordable housing for existing and prospective workforce housing is a challenge nationwide.  Lack of housing presents challenges to communities and regions that are hoping to attract new businesses and industries, not to mention meeting the needs of current residents.  During this session you will learn about successful approaches to creating housing opportunities from across the Austin region.

  • Debora Glasgow, Executive Director, SWODA, Burns Flat, OK
  • Michael Ryburn, Deputy Executive Director, Director of Business Development, SWODA, Burns Flat, OK
  • John Boudreaux, Regional Vitalization Manager, South Central Planning and Development Commission, Houma, LA
  • Moderator: Michael Parks, Executive Director, Brazos Valley Council of Governments, Bryan, TX

Rethinking Your Website as an Important Branding Tool                  

Is your website doing its job?  It is providing the right information to your stakeholders?  Is it easily found on search engines?  Can users navigate it easily, finding the information they need?  Does it look fresh and current?  These are questions that should be considered as part of your public relations and outreach programs.  This session will walk attendees through the elements of a good website, and provide tips on how to determine if your website needs a refresh.

  • Erica Allison, Strategist & Founder, Formation PR + Brand, Hendersonville, NC
  • Moderator: Kelly Davila, Director of Regional Services/Economic Development, South Plains Association of Governments, Lubbock, TX

3:15 pm – 4:30 pm                    Plenary

Stars of the Southwest: Lifting Regional Economies                             

Every year, the SWREDA Board of Directors selects five Star of the Southwest Awardees—one from each state—to showcase their positive impact on a community’s or region’s economic vitality.  Learn about the projects, including funding, partnerships, impact, future plans, and much more during this session.  And, during the Star of the Southwest Award Reception immediately following this session, you will be able to meet with key staff from the winning organizations.

  • PEAK Innovation Center

Sasha Grist, Executive Director, Western Arkansas Planning Development District, Fort Smith, AR

  • Reconstitution of the Red River Leadership Institute

Chris Brown, Executive Director, Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Texarkana, TX

  • Prewitt Industrial Cluster Master Plan and Design

Michael Sage, Economic Program Manager, Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, Gallup, NM

  • Aerospace Technology Training Center

Steve Mills, Executive Director, Southern Oklahoma Development Association, Durant, OK

  • Louisiana Broadband Initiative Targeting Strategy

Jamie Setze, Executive Director, Capital Region Planning Commission, Baton Rouge, LA

Friday, May 5

10:15 – 11:15 am                       Plenary Session                                         

EDA State of the Region and SWREDA Membership Meeting

EDA’s investments in the Austin region over the past year have been significant.  As the conference winds down, hear from Austin Regional Director Jorge Ayala as he recounts the success of the past year and share insights into the coming year.

  • Jorge Ayala, EDA Austin Regional Director, State of the Region

11:30 am                                       Conference Adjourns



Search NADO.org

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]

Contact Melissa Levy

Contact Krishna Kunapareddy

Contact Andrew Coker

Contact Laura Gale

Contact Katie Allison

Contact Jack Morgan

Content Questions Form

Registration Questions Form

Hotel Questions Form

New Speaker Inquiry

Job Listing Inquiry

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.

Contact Danny Tomares

Contact Dion Thompson-Davoli

Contact Ciara Ristig

Contact Bret Allphin

Contact Brett Schwartz

Contact Carrie Kissel

Contact Scott Brown

Contact Jamie McCormick

Contact Joe McKinney

Contact Krystal De Leon

Contact Brittany Salazar

Contact Laurie Thompson

Contact Mirielle Burgoyne