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)
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].
Registrants who cancel their registrations will receive a full refund minus a $50 administrative fee.
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.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, locally known as MSY, is 14 miles from the conference hotel.
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]
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.
1:00 – 1:15 pm Conference Welcome
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
2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Plenary: Good Jobs Challenge
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
3:15 pm – 4:30 pm Plenary
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.
Sasha Grist, Executive Director, Western Arkansas Planning Development District, Fort Smith, AR
Chris Brown, Executive Director, Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Texarkana, TX
Michael Sage, Economic Program Manager, Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, Gallup, NM
Steve Mills, Executive Director, Southern Oklahoma Development Association, Durant, OK
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.
11:30 am Conference Adjourns
Regional Development Researcher Andrew Coker joined the NADO team in March of 2023 after spending two and a half years as the Regional Economic Resiliency Coordinator at West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.
At NADO, Andrew conducts research on the newest economic and community development best practices from Economic Development Districts across the country. He helps produce easily digestible information on complex regional issues through case studies, tip sheets, and research reports. Andrew also hosts training and professional development opportunities including conference sessions and virtual webinars for member regional development organizations.
Andrew is one of our Missouri-based team members and enjoys reading and training for his next triathlon.
Jack Morgan came to the NADO team in 2022 after seven years with the National Association of Counties (NACo) as a Program and Senior Program Manager. Prior to NACo, Jack was a Policy Analyst for Friends of Southwest Virginia. Jack holds a bachelor’s in geography from Emory & Henry College and a master’s in geography from Appalachian State University.
As a NADO Senior Program Manager, Jack leads capacity-building and peer-learning work supporting energy communities in economic transition, regional resilience, and recreation economies. He also helps with the EDA-Austin training program Emerging Leaders.
Jack is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a member of the American Planning Association (APA) in the Regional & Intergovernmental Planning division. He also serves on the Emory & Henry College Alumni Board.
Taking road trips, reading non-fiction, and indulging in top-notch barbecue and coffee round out Jack’s days. He loves maps, mountains, and of course, all things sports.
Karron Grant joined the NADO team in 2023 as Administrative Specialist and is the first face (or voice) you’ll see or hear when reaching out to NADO. As Administrative Specialist, Karron manages our database and coordinates NADO event operations. He ensures members’ needs are met, contact information stays current, and NADO’s office is running efficiently.
Karron came to NADO after four years in the classroom teaching at The New Century School and Old Mill Middle North where he received the Patriot of the Year award. He attended Towson University and the University of Maryland Global Campus and holds a bachelor’s in international studies and humanities.
Visiting art galleries and museums, playing basketball and bowling, and taking in movies and music are some of Karron’s interests and hobbies.
Deputy Executive Director Laurie Thompson has been with NADO for 25 years. Laurie helps keep the NADO and NADO Research Foundation wheels turning through management of the daily operations of the Research Foundation, securing financial resources and overseeing grants management, and helping execute NADO’s Annual Training Conference each year.
Laurie holds a bachelor’s in public affairs and government from Mount Vernon College and a master’s in health services administration from The George Washington University. Prior to NADO, Laurie spent time as a Field Specialist and an Eagle Staff Fund Director at First Nations Development Institute.
When she’s taking a rare reprieve from her NADO work, Laurie enjoys traveling domestically and internationally to visit friends and family.
Jamie McCormick joined the NADO team as a Policy Fellow first in 2019, then moved into her current role as Legislative Associate in 2021. As Legislative Associate, Jamie keeps NADO members apprised of any policy and regulatory issues and communicates NADO’s policy priorities to federal stakeholders and partner organizations. She is also the first stop for members with inquiries on policy issues. The planning and executive of NADO & DDAA’s annual Washington Conference is also managed by Jamie.
Jamie holds a dual bachelor’s in political science and international relations from The State University of New York College at Geneseo and a master’s in international development studies from The George Washington University. In addition to her roles at NADO, Jamie also worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association.
Outside of her NADO work, Jamie is an active volunteer with the VOLO Kids Foundation and a fundraiser for YMCA youth programs. She is also NADO’s resident baker regularly providing treats for those in NADO’s D.C. office. Traveling, taking her pup on walks, and hiking in the northeast keep Jamie busy.
Brett Schwartz began at NADO in 2012 as a Research Fellow after earning his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. The following year, he was promoted to Program Manager and has now been leading as an Associate Director since 2018. Brett is responsible for managing NADO’s Economic Development District Community of Practice (EDD CoP), as well as researching and monitoring the latest trends in regional economic development and resilience, including best practices for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). With more than a decade of experience on the NADO team, Brett is a dynamic relationship builder helping connect and build capacity among the national network of regional development organizations.
Brett also holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a certificate in mediation training. He’s a member of Catalyst Grantmakers of San Diego and Imperial Counties and was a participant in the 2021-22 Field Trips to the Future Cohort.
Brett is one of NADO’s West Coast team members residing in San Diego, CA where he enjoys spending time outdoors, attending concerts and festivals, and soaking up life as a parent of two young children.
Communications Manager Katie Allison joined the team in 2023 to lead the strategic communication efforts of NADO. Katie creates and develops print and online materials, communicates NADO’s updates to members via weekly emails, and maintains content for nado.org and NADO’s social media channels. She also works with different departments to generate new ideas and strategies to effectively describe and promote the important work NADO is doing for EDDs and RDOs across the country.
An experienced nonprofit communications professional, Katie has worked for organizations in western North Carolina for nearly a decade. She holds a bachelor’s in communications from Wingate University where she was a four-year student athlete. Katie has also completed Vision Henderson County, a comprehensive leadership development program that promotes informed and committed civic volunteerism.
Katie stays busy trying to keep up with her two young sons whom she enjoys exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains with. Traveling to new and favorite places and cheering on the Atlanta Braves are some of their favorite pastimes.
Senior Program Manager Ciara Ristig has been a member of the NADO team since 2021, and helps with NADO’s EDD Community of Practice, EDD staff capacity building and other grants on a range of subjects, including equity and solar energy. Before NADO, Ciara worked as a Planner for the County of Santa Barbara and an Assistant Project Manager for REM Consult. Ciara holds a bachelor’s in urban studies and French from Bryn Mawr and a master’s in urban studies from Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris.
When she’s not traveling, you can find her outrigger paddling and serving on the board of the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, CA, near her home base of Santa Barbara.
Carrie Kissel has been a member of the NADO team since 2005 when she began as a Research Fellow. She later moved into the roles of Program Manager in 2006, and then Associate Director in 2011. Carrie holds a bachelor’s in anthropology from Ball State University and a master’s in public anthropology from American University. As Associate Director, Carrie oversees NADO’s work in rural transportation and rural wealth creation. She provides technical assistance and support to rural regions on transportation and economic development issues and develops training and peer exchange events on transportation issues and rural wealth creation as an economic development strategy.
Carrie is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and secretary of TRB’s Rural Transportation Issues Coordinating Council. She is also a member of the American Anthropological Association and the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.
Reading, gardening, hiking, and kayaking are a few of Carrie’s hobbies, and she organizes and facilitates a DEI/social justice-focused book club in her community.
Melissa Levy has worked at NADO as a Regional Development Researcher since February 2023 and is the Principal Consultant at her own firm specializing in wealth-based economic development consulting. With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Melissa brings a breadth of knowledge to her role as a Regional Development Researcher. Melissa provides in-depth research, coaching, and training on regional economic resilience, rural wealth creation strategies, and economic development.
Melissa is a North American Food Systems Network trained AgriCluster Resilience and Expansion (ACRE) facilitator and a WealthWorks coach, facilitator, and trainer. In addition to her professional work, Melissa serves on the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Council, on the board of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center, and on the Hinesburg Economic Development Committee.
A true outdoorswoman, Melissa enjoys cross country and downhill skiing, paddleboarding, hiking, biking, and kayaking, as well as yoga, and teaching Tai Chi.
Program Manager Krishna Kunapareddy began her role with NADO in February of 2023 after 14 years of service at Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in Missouri. Krishna manages NADO Research Foundation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages and Center for Environmental Excellence projects. In addition to researching and writing, Krishna also conducts virtual workshops on innovative tools and techniques related to transportation planning.
She holds an undergraduate degree from Andhra University and a master’s from JNT University in India, as well as a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of Texas at Arlington. Krishna is also a certified Smart Cities Academy Practitioner and holds the Location Advantage certificate from geographic information system software company ESRI.
In her spare time, Krishna volunteers with Mentors4College helping high schoolers better plan for their post-high school paths. She is also a dedicated advocate for documented H4 Dreamers.
Krystal DeLeon joined the NADO team in October of 2020 as Database & Grants Manger, but in January of 2022 transitioned to her current role as Operations Manager. Krystal keeps NADO running through behind the scenes work of invoicing, solving any database issues that may arise, producing membership reports, and much more. Her organizational skills and thorough knowledge help the NADO team operate more efficiently across all departments.
Prior to NADO, Krystal was the Conference Services Coordinator for State Services Organization. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), a licensed realtor, and holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Liberty University. When she’s not keeping NADO’s operations in order, Krystal enjoys running and rock climbing, and adventuring with her husband and son.
Senior Program Manager Bret Allphin joined NADO in April of 2022 bringing with him a wealth of knowledge after a 20-year career with Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta, Ohio. In addition to his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public affairs, Bret is licensed Geographical Information Systems Professional (GISP). He is NADO’s go-to team member for all things mapping while also supporting members with transportation and economic development technical assistance services.
An avid sports aficionado and former collegiate athlete, Bret enjoys cheering on his Cincinnati Reds, hitting the trails on his mountain bike, and improving his golf game whenever possible. Bret is an involved community member in Marietta dedicating much of his spare time to serving on local nonprofit boards.
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.
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.