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News & Press: From the President

From the President: September 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016   (0 Comments)
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As Economic Development professionals, I’m guessing we’ve all had the question, “What exactly is it that you do?” While our work and our profession does not lend itself well to a quick elevator speech or succinct talking points, we know what we do results in important, relevant and impactful projects that better our communities and improve the quality of life for many. We get to see the results of our efforts firsthand, but this isn’t always the case for those outside of the economic development world. Fortunately, earlier in September, we were able to shine a light on economic development activities and recognize some outstanding projects and individuals through the second annual WEDA Community and Economic Development Awards (CEDA).  It was a great feeling to be able to look around the room and see so many ED professionals passionate about their work, their projects and their communities. We will continue to promote the winning CEDA projects and other submittals as Best Practices that other community leaders and local elected officials can learn from, so we can help them truly understand what economic development is all about.  

One of the CEDA award winners will serve as our host location for the WEDA Fall Conference, October 4-6. The City of Eau Claire was recognized for its $81 million public/private Confluence Project, a community arts center and mixed-use UW-Eau Claire student housing building, which will build on the area’s successful downtown redevelopment efforts. The conference hotel, the newly renovated Lismore, recently reopened after a $21 million renovation, keeping Eau Claire’s downtown and riverfront revitalization momentum going strong. 

The Lismore, with its completely different look and inviting amenities, embodies the concept of Placemaking, the practice of using a community’s public amenities to make economic progress.  Just by coincidence (or maybe not) the WEDA fall conference—Making Your Community a Destination for Business and Talent—will build on this concept. I hope you will join us as we all learn how to best leverage the unique features of our communities, build on our existing assets and use them to attract new investment and strengthen existing businesses.

Placemaking capitalizes on existing strengths instead of inventing new ones to develop a stronger economy. WEDA has taken a page out of the Placemaking playbook, taking a big step to capitalize on one of our organization’s key strengths—our legislative advocacy work. While the organization was extremely well-served for 40 years by the efforts of Hamilton Consulting, we are so excited to now have our own in-house Director of Legislative Affairs. Michael Welsh comes to WEDA with over 20 years of legislative and government experience. WEDA is incredibly fortunate to have someone of his caliber working with us to raise the association’s visibility with key policymakers and promote policies to help build the tools we need to do what we do as economic development professionals.  Welcome to WEDA Michael!  We are so happy you’re here!!! 

- Pam Christenson, President

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