Home Southern Economic Development Council recognizes Fields of Gold program

Southern Economic Development Council recognizes Fields of Gold program


CEDA- Shenadoah Valley VAThe Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) has announced the recipients of its annual Community Economic Development Awards (CEDA).

The Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP) submitted a business expansion and community development effort known as the Fields of Gold Agritourism Program.  The entry was the winner in the category of communities with more than 100,000 in population.  Winners were recognized at an awards luncheon held in their honor Monday, July 27, at SEDC’s annual conference in Savannah, Georgia. Bonnie Riedesel, Executive Director of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC), which oversees the Fields of Gold program, accepted the CEDA award.

“I was honored to accept this award on behalf of the Fields of Gold program and to share our story with economic development leaders across the Southeast,” said Riedesel.  “Thanks to the contributions of our many regional partners, Fields of Gold once again has been recognized for innovation, collaboration and program execution in the area of economic development.”

“The CEDA program recognizes communities throughout a seventeen-state region for outstanding efforts in building their strength and viability through economic and community development programs,” said Mike Philpot, SEDC chairman for 2015.  “These programs have a profound impact on the economic vitality and quality of life in their communities.”

The Shenandoah Valley won for the creation of a partnership across eight counties and five cities that protects and enhances the Region’s agriculture as part of their cultural heritage and leverages it as a catalyst for tourism—specifically agritourism that capitalizes on the growing interest in locally sourced food, farm-to-table eating experiences and visits to wineries, breweries, orchards and farms. The creation of “Fields of Gold” as a brand for the region’s “farm trail” and as an umbrella over a wide array of activities has created a strong identity for the region and helped it generate more than $1.2 billion in travel and tourism expenditures in 2013.

“We are honored that Fields of Gold received this prestigious recognition from the Southern Economic Development Council,” said Carrie Chenery, Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership.  “The Shenandoah Valley is home to four of the top five agriculture-producing counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia, representing an impact of over $1 billion to our regional economy.  This innovative marketing tool, with over 190 farm trail participants and numerous public and private partners, has allowed us to sustain and enhance agritourism’s influence in our economic future.”

SEDC is the oldest and largest regional economic development association in North America, with more than 1,000 members representing a variety of backgrounds. From local, regional and state economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, business and industry, utilities, transportation, finance and education, members share a common interest: the promotion and enhancement of the economic development profession.

For more information about the Fields of Gold program, contact Tracey Coltrain, [email protected] (540) 885-5174 or visit www.fieldsofgold.org.



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