AJF News

Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award

3/26/2015 by Jessika Leatherbury
Tags: Awards



FOR RELEASE: MARCH 25, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Ada, Oklahoma and Athens, Ohio win the 2015 Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award from the Economic Development Division of the American Planning Association.The Award Committee determined that two winners deserved equal recognition, selected from a field of six applications, because of their outstanding creative planning efforts.

Ada's award is for its Career Discovery Program, for middle and high school students in every Pontotoc County school.The program is intended to increase awareness of education and career opportunities for young residents and to connect local employers to a future workforce pipeline. Community and business growth is often limited by the flight of younger generations and a lack of skills training for area jobs, particularly in rural areas. The award committee was particularly impressed with the depth and breadth of public involvement for the program, the high degree of creativity in finding ways to keep young people in the area as they enter careers, and even the training they receive to succeed whether in Pontotoc County or not. This is an exciting program from which all of us can learn.

Athens produced the the Essence of Athens plan as a means for mobilizing citizen, businesses, tourism, artists and local government to leverage the unique physical environment of Athens and to honor the city's Appalachian and Hocking Riverfront location. The plan uses community-inspired local design as a primary economic development tool by showcasing local culture in a geographically-specific context, favoring Athens' unusual attitudes, love for vibrant colors, and open-minded citizenry. The intent is to demonstrate local ideas for urban design in offices, storefronts, houses, sidewalks, swimming pools, yards, and everything else built in Athens. The award committee was particularly impressed with the depth and breadth of public involvement for the Essence Plan, the recognition of the value of urban design in economic development, and the overall quality of the plan, which in turn, boosts community pride.

The awards will be formally presented during the annual business meeting of the Economic Development Division at the national conference of the American Planning Association in Seattle, Washington on April 20, 2015.

The award is named after Donald E. Hunger who was President of Hunter Interests Inc., a real estate development and consulting firm based in Annapolis, Maryland, until his death in 2009. Don was very active with, and on the boards of, the American Planning Association, the International Economic Development Council, and the International Downtown Association.

Serving on the Don Hunter award committee for the Economic Development Division of APA were Bob Lewis, AICP of St. Louis, Missouri; Jeffrey Wilkerson, AICP of Trenton, New Jersey; Terry Marpert, AICP of Redmond, Washington; and Matt Lamantia, AICP of Columbus, Ohio.