by Brian McGrain, Associate Director/Chief Operating Officer for CEDAM

This past week, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, DC, to take part in the sixth annual NACEDA summit. For those of you not familiar, NACEDA is the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations. NACEDA was formed approximately seven years ago to serve as a voice at the national level for state CED associations like CEDAM. NACEDA represents 25 state and regional CED associations who cumulatively serve about 4,000 member community-based organizations. CEDAM was a founding member of NACEDA and has had direct Board involvement with NACEDA for most of its existence. CEDAM’s Executive Director, Jamie Schriner-Hooper, currently serves as Secretary of the Board.

This year’s conference provided a combination of policy updates, dialogue on the state of community economic development, information on new program directions and ideas, and networking opportunities with other state association staffs. Our opening keynote was Jim Capraro of the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development (who also spoke at this year’s Building Michigan Communities Conference). Jim provided a great baseline for evaluating and encouraging sustainable community development activities. Discussion followed from other panelists about the future of CED and how more sustainable programming and organizations could be fostered. Other sessions at the summit covered state and federal policy, innovative practices in CED, what other states are working on (in terms of policy priorities and general programming to support CDCs), and a number of sessions on encouraging co-operative business models in communities. The final day of the conference consisted of an advocacy day where NACEDA members met with members of their own state legislative delegations, to talk about issues of importance to their members and the CED field nationally.

Going to the NACEDA summit is always a valuable experience for me. Receiving information and updates on emerging policy and program trends is of great value. At the same time, networking with our peer state associations on how they engage in advocacy, communications, training, and membership engagement, for instance, allows us to learn of better ways of serving you, our members. CEDAM is also able to provide value to other NACEDA members due to our 15 years of experience in doing what we do. I like that I am able to gain access to new information and also be a resource to newer staff and organizations operating elsewhere. This interchange really allows us to strengthen the work of CED associations everywhere, and in turn, allow us to provide even better service to members.

We look forward to continuing involvement on the national level through NACEDA. We also look forward to bringing information gained from this involvement to you in a variety of ways, from sharing information through newsletters and policy briefs to bringing in national speakers on best practices to future conferences.

For more information on NACEDA, visit their website at www.naceda.org.

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