Welcome to the 2021 IEDC Annual Conference

By: RDG Principal Lindsay Bensko

Bright lights, big music city, welcome to Nashville! Home to the 2021 IEDC Annual Conference, and it did not disappoint. Apparent from every angle is the transformation the city is experiencing. If the hustle and bustle of downtown development, tech innovation, tourism, and a food mecca that could rival the likes of Chicago was not enough, Nashville has expanded well beyond its core. Surrounded by breakout neighborhoods, each consisting of their own unique diversity and culture, leaving no wonder as to why the city has paved the way for economic development. Including robust business and talent expansions, Nashville continues to be one the fastest growing cities, and the RDG team was there to experience it all!

Keeping up with the current market trend, this year’s IEDC Annual Conference was available virtually and in-person. While onsite, you could tell folks were happy to be back together again, and the feeling of renewed resilience was present. Regardless of either experience, the program was designed to address current economic development topics. Sessions hosted with roundtable discussions, panels, lectures, and popular city tours, ranged from creating entrepreneurship ecosystems, creative economies, diversity and inclusion, attracting and retaining talent, lessons from the pandemic and much more. RDG incoming CEO Clint Nessmith had the pleasure of participating as a panelist in a session focusing on fundraising for economic development organizations in times of crisis. He was able to share the tactics and pivots RDG specifically created for our clients at JAXUSA Partnership and The Baton Rouge Area Chamber, leading them successfully through fundraising in a time of economic uncertainty.

I would be remiss if not to congratulate IEDC CEO, Jeff Finkle, on his upcoming retirement. Ever since CUED merged with the American Economic Development Council in 2001, creating IEDC, his leadership has been instrumental, and to say he will be missed is an understatement.

While we worked hard, there was also plenty of fun to be had! RDG hosted its annual get-together at our festive Nashville abode. Featuring traditional southern BB-Q, adult beverages, laughter, and some of the best conversations, we were thankful to have our clients, partners and friends join us to celebrate! With our upcoming leadership transition immanent as Clint and Matt take the proverbial baton from Rob and Mike, attention must be paid, so we partied like it was 1999, and then a little more!. Closing out the IEDC Annual Conference, we took one last tour of all Nashville had to offer and we look forward to seeing everyone next year in Oklahoma City!

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