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From Site Selection magazine, May 2017

The 2017 Mac Conway Awards


What does it take to excel in economic development? Most would tell you talent comes first. Location, infrastructure and market proximity matter. Certainly incentives and special initiatives do their fair share, as do the higher education, non-profit and other institutional sectors so important to a region’s economic fabric.

But the biggest factor may be, in a sense, the combination of all the above. No matter how all-encompassing and inclusive your area council, chamber or group is, it’s all for naught if your members and non-members are not on the same page. Moreover, sometimes the best gauge for how well a group functions is how it works with those entities just outside its confines, serving the greater purposes of the community with scant regard for scoring political points or who gets the credit/blame.

In other words: Top economic development groups — like a good umpire or a proficient manager — keep things flowing to the point you hardly know they’re there. They know they’re serving the greater good, and are not the show itself. Our founder Mac Conway, for whom this award is named, said it best in our company mission statement: “Looking at the world landscape, we know that our small company is but a grain of sand. However, joining with many others, we know that we are part of a wonderful vista.”

This year’s Mac Conway Award winners were determined by an index that examines corporate facility investment projects in US metro areas as tracked by Site Selection’s proprietary Conway Projects Database in 2016. Scores are awarded based on six criteria: total projects, total investment associated with those projects and total jobs associated with those projects; and those same three numbers calculated per capita for the metro area. The winners and honorable mentions are each grouped in alphabetical order, and are not ranked within those groupings.

This year we’ve chosen to present them in the form of word clouds, where all the entities inside and outside the winning groups themselves are shown in their full sense of connectivity and mutual influence. 

Greater Phoenix Economic Council 


Chris Camacho
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
Apple (electronic data); Lucid Motors (electric cars); Huhtamaki (food service packaging)

Programs & Initiatives:
In-depth market analysis and research services from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council include reports on the aerospace and defense industries and the microelectronics cluster.

Did You Know?
Greater Phoenix represents 76 percent of Arizona’s economy. Maricopa County’s population grew faster than any other US county (222 people per day) from July 2015 to July 2016, part of a regional boom expected to take the area from 4.4 million people to nearly 6.4 million in the next 20 years.

“The talent pool in Phoenix is as robust as anywhere in the country, and the energy, excitement and collaborative spirit around the emerging tech scene in the valley are absolutely contagious. It’s the perfect place for startups — a supportive, unpretentious community with no existing status quo so you don’t get lost in the crowd, and everyone plays a role in shaping it.”
— Brad Jannenga, Chairman and Co-founder, WebPT


Greater New Orleans, Inc. Regional Economic Alliance


Michael Hecht
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
Venture Global LNG, Inc. (energy); Gramercy Holdings (metals); Monsanto (chemicals)

Programs & Initiatives:
Greater New Orleans, Inc. focuses on advanced manufacturing, energy, international trade, software and digital, biosciences and emerging environmental technologies. The New Orleans Startup Fund is a nonprofit venture fund focused on business creation and innovation in the 10-parish Greater New Orleans region.

Did You Know?
The original city of New Orleans was built in a rectangle block that is today’s French Quarter. It was centered around the Place d’Armes, today’s Jackson Square.

“The St. Charles Power Station will supply the clean, reliable energy required to satisfy customer demand and continue growing the state’s economy, and it will create much-needed jobs for Louisiana residents during its construction.”
—Phillip May, President & CEO, Entergy Louisiana, at the groundbreaking of the company’s new 980-megawatt power station in St. Charles Parish


Kansas City Area Development Council

Kansas City

Tim Cowden
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
Cerner Corporation (data processing); CVS (pharmacies); Logoplaste USA (packaging)

Programs & Initiatives:
KCADC leads industry initiatives focused on areas of growth opportunity in the Kansas City region including transportation, logistics, warehousing and distribution, bioscience, animal health and technology. TeamKC: Life + Talent works with major employers to showcase the region’s lifestyle to top talent from around the world.

Did You Know?
Ernest Hemingway worked as a cub reporter at the Kansas City Star from 1917 to 1918 and wrote the ending to his novel A Farewell to Arms while in the city for the birth of his second son.

“[Kansas City] has an emphasis on entrepreneurship and technology, especially in the Downtown and Crossroads areas, which fits exactly with the direction for the new Virgin Mobile.”
— Dow Draper, CEO, Virgin Mobile, on the company’s decision to move its corporate headquarters to downtown Kansas City


Greater Des Moines Partnership

Des Moines

Jay Byers

Significant Projects:
Microsoft (data centers); Facebook (cold storage); IMT (insurance)

Programs & Initiatives:
Since 1999 the Greater Des Moines Partnership has assisted with more than 500 projects that located or expanded in the region. Targeted industries include insurance and financial services, data centers and bioscience.

Did You Know?
President Ronald Reagan held one of his first entertainment jobs as an announcer of Chicago Cubs games for WHO radio in Des Moines.

“2016 was a great year for the Partnership with $569 million in new capital investments, 24 local business expansion projects and 12 new companies relocating to Greater Des Moines. The Partnership was able to advance Greater Des Moines’ status as a global community with the launch of an agtech startup accelerator and its Global DSM plans.”
— Jim Brannen, CEO, FBL Financial Group and 2016 Partnership Board Chair


Greater Louisville, Inc.

Louisville Forward


Kent Oyler
President & CEO

Mary Ellen Wiederwohl

Significant Projects:
Clariant Corporation (chemicals); Evolvent Health (healthcare consulting), Guess, Inc. (apparel)

Programs & Initiatives:
Greater Louisville, Inc. and Louisville Forward serve an area of 15 counties in Kentucky and Indiana with initiatives geared toward growing investments in advanced manufacturing, business services, craft distilling, entrepreneurship and innovation, healthcare innovation, logistics and e-commerce. 

Did You Know?
The section known as Old Louisville has more Victorian homes and more pedestrian-only streets than any other neighborhood in the United States.

“It is clear that there’s strong demand for nonstop air travel in the Louisville market. OneJet is pleased to provide increased access and convenience for the region’s business travelers to some of the top demanded destinations by local corporate employers. We see a continuing opportunity for growth in this market.”
— Matthew Maguire, CEO, OneJet, announcing new non-stop routes in and out of Louisville International Airport


Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce


Ralph Schulz
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
GM, UPS, FedEx, A.O. Smith, Warner Music, Schneider Electric

Programs & Initiatives:
Next steps for the Chamber’s Moving Forward initiative, focused on regional transit solutions, include a downtown mobility study and further study of high-capacity transit corridors that may be candidates for light rail service. In March 2016, the Chamber and other area leaders launched the Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community (MTRC) to encourage the more than 200,000 area residents with some postsecondary education, but no degree or certificate, to go back to school and complete their education. 

Did You Know?
Unemployment in the Nashville MSA fell every year from 2010 (8.6 percent) to 2015 (4.6 percent), and stood at 3.7 percent in February 2017.

“As home to an emerging technology sector, respected institutions of higher education, and a vibrant creative community, Nashville is fertile ground for recruiting the intellectually curious individuals, passionate about technology’s impact on business, who will help Forrester continue to grow.”
— George Colony, Chairman and CEO, Forrester Research, Inc., on the company’s $2.8-million, 120-job new office investment, January 2017


REDI Cincinnati

Northern Kentucky Tri-ED


Johnna Reeder
President & CEO

Dan Tobergte
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
Ford, Messier Bugatti Dowty, CTI, Medpace, Carl Zeiss Vision

Programs & Initiatives:
Among other efforts to track attractions and retention/expansion projects, REDI Cincinnati invites all of its more than 125 community and organization partners to submit corporate project investment data for its regular Growth Report, submitted to Site Selection for qualification in the magazine’s Conway Projects Database. Northern Kentucky Tri-ED’s NKY Boost is the organization’s award-winning business retention and expansion program, launched in 1998. Tri-ED also supports UpTech, the data-driven startup accelerator based in Covington.

Did You Know?
Unique to Greater Cincinnati, regional businesses can take advantage of two active Foreign Trade Zones, one in Kentucky and one in Ohio, both established in 1979.

“All the components necessary for successful drug/device development and commercialization are present in this region, from innovative financing and major cutting-edge academic institutions to knowledgeable executive leadership and robust, experienced pharmaceutical services, including clinical research organizations and manufacturing firms.”
— Timothy Schroeder, Founder & CEO, CTI, May 2016


Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance


George Swift

Significant Projects:
Lotte Chemical (HQ and multiple plants), Tellurian (Driftwood LNG), Lake Charles Methanol, Cameron LNG

Programs & Initiatives:
The Alliance recently joined Businesses United for Improving Louisiana’s Development by Investing in Transportation, or BUILD IT, which is pushing for an increase in the state’s gasoline tax to help pay for infrastructure. Key to the region is the I-10 bridge, which many are calling to replace (at a potential cost of at least $800 million).

Did You Know?
The 180-mile Creole Nature Trail is annually home to more than 400 bird species, making it one of the Top 10 Birding Destinations in the country.

“This region has a remarkable $45.4 billion in industrial projects under construction and an equally remarkable $51.0 billion at the FEED and permitting stage. A huge boom in industrial construction workers will drive this region’s employment up by 3,800 jobs (+3.6 percent) in 2017, before slowing to a still-respectable +2,200 jobs in 2018. In percentage terms, this will make Lake Charles the fastest growing region of the state by a wide margin.”
— Dr. Loren Scott, Professor Emeritus in Economics, Louisiana State University, in Louisiana Economic Outlook: 2017 and 2018, published in September 2016


St. Louis Regional Chamber

St Louis

Joe Reagan
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
Centene, Charter Communications, Bunge North America

Programs & Initiatives:
The Chamber announced in June 2016 it had partnered with Regions Bank and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC, launched in 2005 by Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter) to form the Inner City Capital Connections Program (ICCC). In early 2017, the Chamber’s Regional Higher Education Council released a report calling for the metro area to be among the Top 10 most educated regions in the country by 2025.

Did You Know?
St. Louis is ranked 20th in STEM employment among all US metro areas, with an annual mean salary of $83,180 that goes a long way in one of the nation’s most affordable regions. STEM jobs are expected to grow by 12.4 percent in the region from 2012 to 2022.

“St. Louis’ Midwestern work ethic, a penchant for forward thinking, and an influx of funding are all working together to make St. Louis an emerging contender within the tech world.”
— Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2017


World Business Chicago


Jeff Malehorn
President & CEO

Significant Projects:
Paypal, Vetter Pharma, McDonald’s, Amazon, Shinola, Glassdoor, Caterpillar, ConAgra

Programs & Initiatives:
The Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge will award up to $3 million in grant funding over three years to organizations that help underserved communities build and scale startups in Chicago. Twice each year, during Lollapalooza and Chicago Ideas Week, top university students are invited to ThinkChicago to meet with Chicago tech leaders, explore companies and attend various events including the Lollapalooza music festival. The annual invitee list has grown from 50 to 275, and recruiting has expanded from 13 Midwest universities to more than 30 nationwide.

Did You Know?
More than $3 billion was invested in Chicago-area startups between 2010 and 2014.

“We discovered a workforce in Greater Chicago that is committed to exceptional customer service. We have the feeling that business gets done here, and that the local workforce is well-educated and hardworking. And of course, the high quality of life we have experienced so far is an important additional factor.”
— Peter Soelkner, Managing Director, Vetter Pharma International GmbH, in The Site Selection Life Sciences Report, August 2016

Mac Conway Award Honorable Mentions

Columbus 2020

Commerce Lexington

Dallas Regional Chamber/Fort Worth Chamber |

Detroit Regional Chamber

Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Greater Houston Partnership

Indy Chamber

Metro Atlanta Chamber

Pittsburgh Regional Alliance/Allegheny Conference |

Regional Growth Partnership (Northwest Ohio)

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


Gary Daughters
Senior Editor

Gary Daughters

Gary Daughters is a Peabody Award winning journalist who began with Site Selection in 2016. Gary has worked as a writer and producer for CNN covering US politics and international affairs. His work has included lengthy stints in Washington, DC and western Europe. Gary is a 1981 graduate of the University of Georgia, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Communications. He lives in Atlanta with his teenage daughter, and in his spare time plays guitar, teaches golf and mentors young people.


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