Prestigious Cardinal Awards from the Virginia Economic Developers
Association presented at Fall Conference in Norfolk
RICHMOND, Virginia (September 2021) – The Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) presented four leaders in economic development with Cardinal Awards at the VEDA Fall Conference in Norfolk.
The recipients are James Noel, Jr., Director of York County Economic Development; John Loftus, Site and Building Manager of Virginia Economic Development Partnership; Patrick Barker, Executive Director of the Frederick County Economic Development Authority; and Deborah Flippo, Economic Development Program Manager at Draper Aden Associates.
The Cardinal Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed by VEDA to deserving members. The award recognizes leadership in the field of economic development, outstanding professional accomplishments and exceptional service to the organization.
Barker and Flippo are 2020 Cardinal Award honorees, but because the VEDA Fall Conference was virtual last year, they were recognized last week. Noel and Loftus are 2021 recipients.
 “Being together in Norfolk to recognize four distinguished members with our most prestigious honor was among the highlights of our 2021 fall conference,” said VEDA President Steve Harrison. “I applaud Jim, John, Patrick and Deborah for their tireless work and outstanding leadership on behalf of economic development. We are a stronger Virginia because of the dedication and commitment they show in their respective regions.”
Noel, according to his nomination letter, “is a firm believer that economic development is capable of making enormous positive impacts on the lives of citizens and business owners in our communities, and he has dedicated his life to doing just that.”
Noel, who has served in a direct role in economic development for more than 40 years, is the immediate Past President of VEDA. He was instrumental in guiding the organization during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under his direction, York County has expanded its tax base and attracted multiple large employers to the area. He spearheaded several key transformative projects, including Lightfoot Commercial Center, Riverwalk Landing, York County Commerce Park and The Edge District. Noel established York County’s first formal business retention and expansion program. His personal mentorship has led to the growth of numerous professionals who have transitioned to successful careers in economic development.
Loftus’ versatile skillset has equipped him to address economic development across the Commonwealth, according to his nomination letter. He was part of the original Business Ready Sites Program team, using his coaching and mentoring abilities to assist numerous localities in the Commonwealth. Additionally, Loftus played a key role in improving the Brownfield Grants and Tobacco Commission Megasites.
Loftus’ nomination letter lauds his charitable work, which includes assisting the Feed More food distribution effort, dedication to the Angel Tree process and leadership in raising funds to support Multiple Sclerosis.
Barker has exceled in economic development for more than two decades. Under his direction, Frederick County ranks ninth in the state after securing more than $300 million in capital and nearly 4,000 new jobs in the last 10 years. He has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Economic Developers in North America by the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance.
Barker is a Past President of VEDA and has served the organization in various roles. The Eagle Scout is active in several charitable endeavors, including the Boy Scouts.
Flippo focuses on serving the economic development industry in her role at Draper Aden Associates. Her expertise and leadership have been exemplary on projects such as the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program, Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, the Rural Planning Caucus of Virginia and VEDA.
The nomination letter for Flippo salutes her as “a lighthouse for professionals of all ages in economic development.” She is also active in Fellowship Community Church and participated in two mission trips to Zambia.
VEDA is a non-profit, non-partisan membership association for individuals with a professional interest in economic development across the Commonwealth of Virginia. VEDA serves as the voice of economic development in Virginia and was founded in 1982 to increase the effectiveness of individuals involved in the practice of economic development in Virginia by encouraging cooperation, exchange of information, and professional development activities. For more information, visit

Stephanie Heinatz
Consociate Media for the Virginia Economic Developers Association