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The Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) was established in 1982 after a small group of individuals from across the Commonwealth met with a shared interested to facilitate economic development in Virginia. VEDA was created with the express purpose to “increase the effectiveness of individuals in the practice of economic development in Virginia”. 

VEDA set forth its initial objectives below:

  • To establish a conduit for state economic developers to communicate with each other
  • To improve communication and cooperation between developers and the Virginia Department of Economic Development 
  • To raise awareness of the needs/benefits for economic development across Virginia.
  • To offer suggestions and recommendations to insure the Commonwealth of Virginia’s competitive position in economic development
  • To promote the standards of professionalism among economic developers in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • To encourage the pursuit of professional education offered by organizations in and outside the Commonwealth

VEDA: The Early Years

First Meeting of the Steering Committee

The initial meeting of the Steering Committee that founded the Virginia Economic Developers Association met on January 26, 1982 in Lynchburg, Virginia. That first meeting was called to order by Bob Johnson, Executive Director of the Wythe County Industrial Development Authority.

From the minutes of the initial meeting…

There was discussion of materials send by Bob Johnson relating to the Constitution and By-Laws and procedures of other similar statewide organizations.  Charlie Saul of Appalachian Power Company related concerns of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce and the need for an Economic Development organization in the State of Virginia. Emphasis was placed on this being an organization of professional Economic Developers.

The purpose of the proposed organization was discussed at length. It was expressed that we should not compete with other organizations and that our initial purpose should include a goal to educate ourselves as professional Economic Developers. The group did express strong feelings that we are a group of independent individuals that have the opportunity to form an association that can speak to all issues and communicate with all parties.

A consensus vote was taken and all members of the committee agreed that they would like to pursue the formation of an association.

Discussions were held regarding the name, and it was decided to utilize the name Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA).

The group ended their discussions with enthusiasm and an overall feeling that this project was both essential to the economic development of the Commonwealth and complimentary to all other organizations presently working in that discipline

Members of the original Steering Committee:

  • June M. Bachtell, Director of Economic Development, County of Loudoun
  • Jerry Brown, President, Charlottesville-Albemarle County Chamber of Commerce
  • Beverly T. Fitzpatrick, Jr., Assistant Vice President, Economic Development Department, First National Executive Bank
  • Douglas A. Harbit, Administrator, Division of Economic Development, City of Newport News
  • Robert E. Johnson, Executive Director, Industrial Development Authority of Wythe County
  • C.A. Middleton, Executive Director, Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce
  • Lillian P. Morse, Executive Vice President, Staunton-Augusta County Chamber of Commerce
  • Charles L. Pendleton, Executive Vice President, Danville Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Charles R. Saul, Area Development Consultant, Appalachian Power Company
  • S. Kenneth Shubart, Executive Director, Industrial Development Authority of the County of Accomack
  • Thomas H. Waller, Executive Director, Suffolk Industrial Development Authority

VEDA’s charter night banquet was held at the Richmond Hyatt House on September 28, 1982. Beverly Fitzpatrick developed the VEDA membership certificate, had the certificates printed and the individual names entered. They were distributed at the charter night. 

Governor Robb took office in January 1982 and appointed Scott Eubanks to lead the Department of Economic Development for the State. Mr. Eubanks was the principal speaker at the charter night and was presented with the first VEDA membership certificate. He recognized the need for such an organization and gave it his strong support and backing. His help added much to the development and growth of VEDA.

During the organization’s first year, Jim Gregory recommended the organization establish an award to recognize the work of those outstanding individuals in economic development. He suggested the award be known as the “Cardinal Award”. He was appointed the Chairman of a committee that developed an outline of the requirements for the award. Certificate and lapel pins were developed as recognition gifts.

VEDA: 35 Years Strong

The Virginia Economic Developers Association has grown from fewer than 100 members in 1982 to more than 525 members in 2017 when the organization celebrated its 35th Anniversary. VEDA’s events schedule has grown from one annual banquet to two Annual Conferences, two Membership Meetings, and two Professional Development Workshops. VEDA’s role in Public Policy has increased with each year. For the first time in 2017, VEDA’s Board of Directors was responsible for helping to secure patrons, draft legislation, and work to get it passed in the Virginia General Assembly. A Legislative Reception and Day at the General Assembly were added in 2008.

Today, with more than  525 members, VEDA represents all of corners of the Commonwealth and provides a platform for members to meet, organize, and implement programs that assist in creating new jobs, encourage investment opportunities, and maintain a pro-business climate in Virginia. VEDA is the voice in Virginia for shaping economic development public policy, and a primary source of stand and effective education and networking for economic development professionals. 




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