Learn and Lead 2023 was a huge success! A strong program and widespread support from the economic development community resulted in record attendance. From handling conflict to emerging industry sectors to equitable economic development, the WEDN program offered key takeaways for everyone.
The program kicked off with a workshop on Handling Conflict. Led by Mark Molitor with Lead Effectively, the workshop had everyone out of their seats to engage with the different conflict modes of Compromise, Compete, Collaborate, Avoid, and Accommodate. Molitor said, “Not only is conflict inevitable, it can and should be good. If you’re dealing with important and complex issues, then good decision-making means engaging in healthy, productive conflict.”
One of the best things about WEDN is learning from colleagues. We tapped the expertise of Laura Hill (ECS Southeast) to understand engineering reports, LeeAnn Nixon (Wilkes EDC) and Cyndi Dancy (Dancy Research) on best practices in building a child care coalition, and Taylor Keilty (EDPNC) on how to vet a prospect.
Two emerging industry clusters were explored – EV and wind energy. David Clayton with Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research teamed up with Nicholette Ross with Global Location Strategies to share where the EV industry is headed and how economic developers can compete for new locations. With several recent project announcements in the Carolinas, this is an industry to watch. Next, four leaders in wind energy took the stage to share where the industry is now and how it is developing in the southeast. Hailey Deres, Southeastern Wind Coalition, Ashley McLeod, Kitty Hawk Wind, Susan Munroe, TotalEnergies Renewables, and Danielle Peoples, Duke Energy, delivered a fast-paced, information packed session.
Natalie Ceva with Jones Lang LaSalle shared a market forecast for industrial and commercial real estate. With demand continuing to outpace supply, economic developers paid close attention to forecasts for new construction and lease rates.
The lunch keynote on equitable economic development was delivered by Zytha Kock with the International Economic Development Council. She shared the association’s Playbook for Equitable Economic Development, downloadable here.
This year, we gave copies of Melody Warnick’s new book, If You Could Live Anywhere. Read our book review here. We gave Warnick’s first book, This is Where You Belong, at WEDN 2018.
WEDN attendees come for the programming and to expand their professional network. They participated in table conversation topics, networking challenges, and SPARK! sessions. As has been the tradition since WEDN began, attendees generously donated gently used career clothing items to the Dress for Success Career Closet.
Since it’s beginning, WEDN has had strong support from the economic development community. Special thanks to James Chavez and the SC Power Team who provided 20 scholarships and a sponsorship. ECS Southeast and Sanford Holshouser Lawyers and Advisors also provided scholarships. Other sponsors include NC Electric Cooperatives and NC Economic Development Association.
The purpose of WEDN is to advance women in the field of economic development. We do that through professional development and expanding networks. We appreciate everyone who participated, presented, and engaged in the program and discussions. Look for WEDN 2024 announcements this fall. We hope to see you next year.