BATON ROUGE — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards, President and CEO Jeff Finkle of the International Economic Development Council and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson announced LED has earned recognition as an Accredited Economic Development Organization. LED becomes the only statewide agency in the U.S. and one of only 61 economic development groups in the world to earn the AEDO status, which follows a more than yearlong documentation and site review process by the International Economic Development Council.
Finkle said earning the accreditation assures state residents, elected officials at all levels, and employers and business prospects that their trust in LED is well-placed and that the state economic development agency is conducting its duties with the utmost level of professionalism.
“LED displays the professionalism, commitment and technical expertise that is deserving of this honor,” Finkle said.
LED began the AEDO process on May 1, 2017, working with IEDC and its AEDO Program leaders to document the department’s policies, practices and procedures across a host of organizational functions, from management, finance and auditing activities to leadership, human resources, marketing, communications, strategic planning, operations planning, mission and goals.
“Louisiana Economic Development devoted more than a year to a review process that would determine how well we are doing our job in economic development, and how we can get better,” Gov. Edwards said. “The findings of the IEDC team showed that we are doing a remarkable job of meeting our economic development mission, and that we have a plan and a process to do even better. Congratulations to LED for becoming the only state in the U.S. recognized as a fully Accredited Economic Development Organization.”
During the accreditation process, LED submitted more than 500 pages of documentation about department activities, goals, budgets and planning. IEDC reviews of LED work continued throughout the engagement, which culminated with a May 2018 site visit by the AEDO Program review team.
To create a comprehensive and independent accreditation process, the AEDO Program conducts the site review through a peer process with professionals representing different tiers of the economic development profession. For the site visit to Louisiana, IEDC enlisted Vice President Mike Downing of Jonesboro Unlimited in Jonesboro, Arkansas; Dan Gundersen, a principal at Camoin Associates of Richmond, Virginia, and a former state-level economic development executive in New York and Virginia; and Executive Director Judy McKinney Cherry of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development in Watkins Glen, New York.
The AEDO Program site team visited with Gov. Edwards and more than a dozen higher education, business and industry, and economic development leaders within the state. Insights gleaned from the documentation review and the site review formed the basis of the accreditation decision.
Recommendations for LED included helping Louisiana communities build greater economic development capacity; improving communication of long-term aspirational goals for the state; creating more pathways for rural sustainability; amplifying, and communicating more about, LED’s efforts to diversify the state economy; expanding on a successful track record of forming public-private partnerships to spur economic development; creating greater cohesion with universities and governmental institutions to commercialize intellectual property; and working with the Louisiana Board of Regents to meet the aspirational goal of Louisiana being among the most educated states by 2025.
“The AEDO Program from the International Economic Development Council provided everything we hoped for, and more,” Secretary Pierson said. “We received great feedback and validation of the many areas in which we’re performing at a very high level. We also had great exchanges through the documentation and site review phases that opened the door to new programs. We strive to be the state organization that is qualified to lead Louisiana to even greater economic development success. We set an example for our regional, parish and local economic development organizations and continually collaborate with them.
“Know this: LED is immensely proud to serve all of Louisiana — urban and rural areas, small and large businesses. We support communities statewide by helping them build their economic development capacity. All these sectors are important. With this accreditation accomplishment, our commitment to our stakeholders and to those beyond the boundaries of our state is clear. We’re now better-prepared to sustain the attraction of domestic and international investments that will bring higher-quality jobs and opportunity to the people of Louisiana.”
Three LED partners in Louisiana also have earned designation as AEDOs by the International Economic Development Council — the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, or NLEP; the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission, or JEDCO; and the New Orleans Business Alliance, or NOLABA. Leaders from each group attest to the accreditation’s value.
“North Louisiana Economic Partnership congratulates LED on becoming an Accredited Economic Development Organization through the International Economic Development Council,” said NLEP President Scott Martinez. “NLEP was designated an AEDO in 2015, and this accreditation has enhanced our credibility with key constituencies, such as site selectors, elected officials and even prospective companies.”
“This prestigious designation identifies organizations like JEDCO and LED as leaders in the economic development industry, lending credibility to our operations, initiatives and activities,” said JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna. “Being AEDO-certified allows us to promote ourselves as a best-practices agency and provides our clients with the next level of trust. All of this sets AEDO organizations apart and makes our community – and now our state – more competitive. We commend LED on their accreditation through the International Economic Development Council and look forward to the success that their new AEDO designation will bring to the entire state.”
“Successfully completing this rigorous accreditation process proves that Louisiana’s economic development agency is at the top of the profession,” said President and CEO Quentin L. Messer Jr. of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “Louisianans can be proud that LED is the nation’s only accredited statewide AEDO and one of only 61 globally. This achievement adds to the long list of examples showing that not only does LED successfully connect more Louisianans to economic opportunity, it adheres to the highest ethical standards.”