Washington, DC – Norfolk Economic Development Department won a Gold Rank for its Norfolk Innovation Corridor, a project in the category of Public-Private Partnerships of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).  The honor was presented at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference, on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized for the partnership between the Norfolk Innovation Corridor and the City of Norfolk Economic Development, which represents years of work behind the scenes.” Linda Peck, Executive Director of the Norfolk Innovation Corridor, said. “It’s exciting to think about what lies ahead as we collaborate to promote the wide array of innovation assets to attract and grow technology companies to the NIC, ultimately enhancing the vitality and resilience of Norfolk.”

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. 25 award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from 4 countries.

Launched in November 2020, after more than a year of planning, the Norfolk Innovation Corridor (NIC) is still a very new organization. In a relatively short time, it has organized and galvanized the city and nearly 40 of the corridor’s technology companies, professional service businesses and nonprofit support organizations to grow and nurture the innovation ecosystem. The level of excitement and engagement is palpable – even via Zoom. In just over 6 months, the NIC has: created a strategic plan and action plans for each activity areas, developed a website featuring the many NIC assets (https://norfolkinnovation.com), applied for incorporation under Section 501C3 of the Internal Revenue Code (pending), and raised public and private funding to start operations. Without a true partnership, bringing together the best aspects of the public and private sectors, the NIC would not have made the progress it did in the middle of a pandemic. The level of organizational commitment, engagement and funding is evidence of this partnership.

The NIC is an area stretching from Norfolk State University to Old Dominion University through Downtown Norfolk. The corridor has the densest clustering of innovation assets in the region, which results in advantages for technology businesses to locate where such physical, networking, and economic assets can be tapped. The challenge has been that no organization was focused on developing, maintaining, and promoting this rich innovation ecosystem. In November 2020 the Greater Norfolk Corporation, a local leadership organization, the City of Norfolk and a consortium of business, education and non-profit organizations launched the NIC to address this challenge. The NIC is organized around 7 functions: marketing & branding, community building/programming, technology transfer & commercializing, innovation infrastructure, go to market, and grants and incentives. The metropolitan region suffered from anemic job growth over the 5-year pre-pandemic period 2014-2019. With its focus on supporting existing and start-up companies in high growth, high wage industries the NIC will accelerate the creation of such jobs and build the tax base.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic development and exemplify the leadership that our profession strives for every day,” said 2021 IEDC Board Chair and Invest Buffalo Niagara, President, and CEO Tom Kucharski. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing submissions, projects, and partnerships have improved regional quality of life.”

We’re incredibly honored to recognize the outstanding organizations that received this year’s Excellence Awards. This year, more than ever, has presented opportunities to innovate, impact, and progress the cities, neighborhoods, and communities around us. Each of this year’s recipients represents the best of the economic development profession and exemplifies the ingenuity for fellow economic developers to aspire to in the years to come.

 About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development experiences. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at iedconline.org.