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Conference to celebrate economic successes

Sponsored by
Western Nevada Development District

Officials and executives from Nevada’s large and small cities, counties and municipalities, as well as private agencies and economic development authorities, will have a chance to celebrate and showcase their successes in economic development during the second annual Building A Stronger Nevada Economic Development Conference.

New to this year’s Building a Stronger Nevada Economic Development Conference, held at Joe Crowley Student Union Sept. 20-22, is the Stronger Economies Awards and Accolades Program, which recognizes excellence in economic development across a variety of mediums. Judges for the Stronger Economies Awards and Accolades Program will look at marketing plans, strategic business models and long-term plans that have reaped the most rewards for their creators.

Lu Torres, community and economic development specialist for USDA Rural Development in Las Vegas, says the new awards program is really about celebrating success.

“We look at a community’s success and how successful they were in promoting economic development in their community,” says Torres. “That is the key to bringing back a vital economy. We are looking for very organized, structured plans that a community implemented that shows the steps they took, how they grew their economic development, and how they measured outcomes.”

Since economic development budgets aren’t the same for a community like Ely in White Pine County versus Reno or Sparks in Washoe County, the Stronger Economies Awards and Accolades Program is broken into many different categories that level the playing field. There will be a total of 25 awards based on community population and type of marketing platform used.

“Hawthorne will not be competing with Las Vegas or Henderson,” Torres says. “We make sure the smaller communities are only competing with smaller ones, and larger cities are competing with larger cities.”

Entry fee for the contest is $50, with a deadline of May 21. Judging takes place beginning in June, and the winners will be notified in July and recognized during an awards presentation on Sept. 22 at the Building a Stronger Nevada Conference. Judges will look at the best plans that creatively used multimedia, video or printed collateral to boost a community’s or city’s economy.

Additionally, Torres notes, every submission will be scored by a host of regional experts who will provide key insight into plans to strengthen future endeavors.

“There will be comments from our experts, so that when they get their application back after scoring, they can talk about what was strong, and what were weaknesses. It is like free coaching from experts in our state.”

Similar awards programs are in place at other economic development conferences throughout the nation, Torres notes. Each winner at conference also will have the chance to showcase their award-winning project so other attendees can see what worked for them.

“We are starting to see some really great things happen in our state, and we want to celebrate communities’ business recruitment as well as retention as a result of their marketing efforts,” she says.

The Building a Stronger Nevada Economic Development Conference was created in 2015, and after a two-year run in northern Nevada the conference will be held in Las Vegas in 2017. The economic development conference serves as a bridge linking community and regional executives with Nevada-based and national business experts and policymakers so they can better understand how to grow their communities.

The Building a Stronger Nevada Economic Development Conference features institutes, workshops, concurrent sessions and tours so attendees can learn how various businesses in Nevada operate.

“It is a great dynamic that brings together people both locally and statewide with people from other areas of the nation that have expertise and understanding in all aspects of building and developing businesses,” Torres says. “It’s for new economic developers, elected and appointed officials, business owners, utilities, banks, educators, manufacturers, the mining industry, transportation representatives, agribusiness and anyone interested in connecting with Nevada’s economic development network.”

A main goal of the Building a Stronger Nevada Economic Development Conference is to give attendees the tools they need to grow their business or communities and engage with subject matter experts that have expertise in all aspects related to economic development. The conference features experts in access to capital, growing or starting a business, agribusiness, energy, manufacturing, transportation, workforce development and infrastructure.

Cost for early registration for the Nevada Economic Development Conference is $125 and ends June 30. Cost after that date is $150. Attendees can register for one day (Sept. 21 or Sept. 22) for $100. Student and non-profit registration is $75 before June 30 and $100 after that date.

Some of the pre-conference workshops have additional fees. A full schedule can be found at wndd.org/economic-development-conference/registration.

For question or additional information regarding the Stronger Economies Awards and Accolades Program, call Lu Torres at 702-407-1400, ext. 103, by email at louise.torres@nv.usda.gov.