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Highlights from NADO’s 2014 Washington Policy Conference

by Melissa on April 2nd, 2014


Over 300 regional development practitioners, policy makers, and other stakeholders participated in the 2014 Washington Policy Conference: NADO on the Hill from March   23 – 26.  Over the course of the four-day event, attendees learned about the latest policy developments and the current political climate on Capitol Hill.  Participants also met with members of Congress and their staff to highlight the work regional development organizations are doing to improve the economy and quality of life in their regions and the federal programs that assist them.

This year’s conference included many esteemed guests and speakers:

  • Doug O’Brien, Deputy Under Secretary, Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Matthew Dalbey, Director, State and Federal Division, Office of Sustainable Communities, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, U.S. Economic Development Administration
  • The Honorable Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair, Appalachian Regional Commission
  • The Honorable Chris Masingill, Federal Co-Chairman, Delta Regional Authority
  • Greg Nadeau, Deputy Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Mark Leibovich, New York Times Magazine Chief National Correspondent and author of This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital
  • Brad Fitch, President and CEO, Congressional Management Foundation
  • NADO Executive Committee met with Rob Nabors, Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama to discuss regional priorities for America’s communities

In addition, attendees heard from senior staff of the House Appropriations Committee, Senate Budget Committee, House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the legislative outlook for the rest of 2014 and the prevailing political climate in Washington.  The conference also provided opportunities for attendees to meet one-on-one with federal partners during the Federal Agency Networking Reception.

Other highlights of the conference included an opening reception at the U.S. Botanic Garden; breakout sessions on rural development in the farm bill, workforce, transportation, and disaster preparedness and resiliency; and an update on changes to the content guidelines for Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).

For the second year, conference attendees traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress.  Minnesota was represented by four regional development commissions and met with staff from Sen Franken and Sen Klobuchar’s office and met with Congressmen Walz, Peterson and Nolan to discuss the following:

  • Reauthorizing the transportation bill
  • Reauthorizing the Older American’s Act
  • Sustained and increased support for EDA programs and funding
  • Sustained and funding support for CDBG funds
  • Sustained support and funding for USDA Rural Development programs
  • Increased attention and discussion on addressing the lack of  market rate housing and substandard/dilapidated housing programs



Photo: Miron Carney, Chairman Southwest Regional Development Commission, Mayor of Slayton
Dawn Hegland, Upper MN Valley Regional Development Commission, Executive Director
Nicole Griensewic,Region Nine Development Commission, Executive Director
Annette Bair, Southwest Regional Development Commission,  Physical Development Director
Brad Ahrenstorff, Vice Chairman Region Nine Development Commission, Mayor of Lake Crystal
(Not pictured) Pat Henderson, Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, Executive Director


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