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Recapping Recent Planning and Economic Development Conferences

Posted on by Courtney Hendricson


The fall is a busy time for conferences, workshops, and events within the planning and economic development industry. Having just returned from some great conferences, I wanted to share a little bit about them.

The first was a workshop hosted by the Incremental Development Alliance, CTNext and CT Main Street Center, a couple of weeks ago here in Connecticut.  A great group of people who are interested in very small neighborhood development.  We talked about the hands-on approach which allows us to practice, and we talked about zoning, Pro-formas, financing, how do you pick a project, how do you pick a building, and right-sizing a project and its parking.

Really, the power of the incremental approach came in with a hands-on activity we did around practicing calculations for a Pro-forma, and what can fit in a certain spot.  It was really fun - we had cut-outs of buildings and a lot that we had to fit them on in different formations. So deciding together whether a certain development is worth it. It was very exciting and informative. 

Next up, I was at IEDC, the International Economic Development Council’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. What a great time!  We had a great Connecticut contingent.  We talked about attainable housing - a new word on affordable or workforce housing we often hear about.  We talked about youth sports as an economic driver which is happening in their region, so we were able to go on a field trip to look at that. We talked ethics in economic development, turning startups into growth companies, lots of craft beer - they’re seeing that there, we’re seeing it here in Connecticut.  Supporting entrepreneurs in new and different ways and we’re going to be talking a lot more about that in the coming years - so stay tuned for that.  

A lot of workforce “a-has” that we’re also bringing back to Connecticut… climate adaptation and cities and towns across the state are dealing with climate adaptation and mitigation. Clear and action-oriented brands and campaigns - one of the best was “Grow Lee” out of Iowa, telling you exactly what they are trying to do. A lot of rural placemaking, and of course, it’s not a trip to Indianapolis without visiting the Motor Speedway, so we had a lot of fun checking out the fast cars as well. 

Last up, we visited the Southern New England APA’s meeting in Springfield late last week, and we had a great time.  The walking tour was extremely informative because we were able to see, with the new MGM Grand Casino, what they were able to invest all around town - they are really growing and improving. We talked about quirky down festivals all over New England, and we discussed AI and what that means for the planning and economic development industries. Zoning does and how they can be hilariously interpreted so we watch how we are creating our regulations to be sure to be as specific as to what we want as a community for the applicants and developers are using it to put forward.  

And lastly, we discussed public speaking - four professionals that are already giving a lot of presentations… you are already giving a lot of presentations, as am I, in planning in economic development, so there were some valuable tweaks we learned to make the difference. It was a great session, and overall a great two-day conference.  

Congratulations to SNEAPA and IEDC for great conferences!