The Online Newsletter for the Virginia Economic Developers Association
July 2017
President's Message
I was fortunate to have the chance to participate in a "design thinking" session recently, along with about 35 other economic development and workforce professionals, for a partner organization. It was my first experience with this type of exercise, and I had no idea what to expect. Imagine an invitation to an eight-hour meeting with a group of fairly unfamiliar faces, no shared agenda, and a suggestion to (gasp!) come dressed casually. I'm usually game for trying new things and always up for a challenge, so off I went into the great unknown. 

Through a series of cleverly-designed activities, thought-provoking discussions, and a surprising amount of fun, I was astounded at the amount of insightful and creative ideas that were generated throughout the day. One of the activities was to create a news story about the failure of the initiative under discussion, imagining that all of the hard work and energy going into the effort did not have the desired outcome in the end. What a frightening exercise! While it was fun to spend the day dreaming big, this activity underscored the importance of keeping in mind the risks of failure. Of course, the intent was not to discourage the effort, but to identify the potential failure drivers and reverse engineer to prevent them. Still, I think the exercise left more than a few people in a cold sweat!

All of us, personally and in our professional organizations - including VEDA - take risks every day. Some are small with minimal consequences, and a few are bolder. How far out of our comfort zone are we willing to go in order to make a difference? What might we be attempting, if failure wasn't a risk? As VEDA heads into the season of public policy planning and outreach to the gubernatorial candidates, what is the right ratio of risk to reward? The VEDA leadership team will gather next month for the annual planning retreat. As we dream big, I'm sure we'll also be weighing risks. I'm looking forward to more thought-provoking discussions!
  -Debbie Melvin, VEDA President

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go." - T.S. Eliot
VEDA member news
VEDA member  Olga Molnar has been promoted to  Vice President, Global Investment for the Greater Richmond Partnership. She has served the region for more than 10 years in a research capacity.

VEDP has announced several promotions. Vince Barnett has been named Vice President for Business Investment. Tom Scott has been named Director of Governor Missions Program. Jay Langston will serve as Managing Director of Business Retention & Expansion. VEDA President, Debbie Melvin has been promoted to Assistant Vice President, Workforce Development.

If you've made a change, received an award or recognition, hired new staff, completed a new project; or generally have good news to share, please send it to the VEDA office at to share your news with your fellow VEDA members.

VEDA 2017 Fall Conference coming to Virginia Beach -- make your plans to attend Gaining a Competitive Advantage through Collaboration
VEDA will hold its annual Fall Conference at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, October 11-13. The planning committee, chaired by Michelle Chapleau (Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development) and  Patrick Barker (Frederick County Economic Development Authority), is hard at work planning a great event! Stay tuned for the agenda. Conference registration will open in August.  HOTEL RESERVATIONS ARE AVAILABLE
VEDA Cornerstone Member Spotlight
VEDALink is spotlighting our Cornerstone Members each month. We hope you'll get to know them a little better and consider becoming a VEDA Cornerstone Member too!

Joseph C. Hines, Timmons Group

Q:  Would you rather travel by plane, train, or  automobile? Why?
A:   Well considering that I traveled by all three on a recent trip to Europe, I'd say a train because  you can relax and get to observe the beautiful countryside without worrying about traffic or having someone sitting crammed next to you!

Q:  Is there something that you've dreamed of doing for long time? Why haven't you done it?
A: I always wanted to be an Astronaut and went so far as getting an application from NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston shortly after college as I figured the could use a civil engineer to work on the International Space Station.  When I realized most of the Astronauts were either test pilots from the Navy or Air Force, or PhD's who were career academics, I realized that my odds were slim, however, Elon Musk with SpaceX and Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic are booking space flights for tourists starting at $250,000 a pop - I guess I better start saving up!

Q: What do you value most about VEDA? Why?
A: Fellowship and friendships!  We have enough difficult situations and people to deal with in this world and I find VEDA to be a "safe place" for me because I'm always with friends and colleagues who I deeply respect and care about and can be myself with!
VEDA member tools and resources
As a VEDA member there a various tools and resources to help you professionally. Be sure to check them out.


A database of professional economic developers to access for networking, collaboration, sharing, and learning. Be sure to update your own member profile and add your photo!


An excel spreadsheet of VEDA members, updated monthly for your use. CLICK HERE to check it out.


The Mentor Resource Group is comprised of VEDA members with long-term local, regional and state experience in community development, either directly or a combination of professional expertise in such fields as utilities, engineering and economic development consulting.  The group serves as a resource to new VEDA members or other members who have questions about economic development in general or questions about economic development in Virginia.

In This Issue
Quick Links
Sponsorships available for VEDA Fall Conference and Winter Membership Meeting
Sponsorships are still available for VEDA's Fall Conference and Winter Membership Meeting.

These events depend on the support of sponsors to secure top speakers and provide excellent professional development opportunities.

There are many benefits to becoming a sponsor of a VEDA event. 

CHECK IT OUT online today!
2017 marks VEDA's 35th year
VEDA will celebrate its 35th anniversary during the Fall Conference in October. The VEDA office is looking for photographs, documents, anecdotes, etc that represent VEDA's history.

If you have items or ideas for celebrating VEDA's 35th year, please email them to 

Appalachian Power

Upcoming Economic Development Events
August 7, 2017
CDFA: Fundamentals of Economic Development Finance Course

August 8-9, 2017
CDFA: Intro Bond Finance Course

August 8-9, 2017
CDFA: Intro Brownfields Finance Course

August 10-11, 2017
CDFA: Intro Revolving Loan Fund Course

August 10-11, 2017
CDFA: Intro Energy & Water Finance Course

August 17-18, 2017
IEDC Advanced Course: Foreign Direct Investment and Exporting

August 20-22, 2017
SEDC: 2017 Annual Conference

August 24-25, 2017
IEDC Training Course: Entrepreneurial & Small Business Development Strategies

October 11-13, 2017
VEDA Fall Conference & 35th Anniversary Celebration
Virginia Beach, Virginia