The executive director of SEDA-Council of Governments received a prestigious award for contributing to the economic health of the region at the recent Development District Association of Appalachia annual conference in Arlington, Virginia.
Since becoming executive director of SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) in 1973, Dennis Robinson has helped to forge a strong partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the region, which has played a key role in the economic development and community capacity of SEDA-COG’s 11 central Pennsylvania counties and beyond.
Robinson expressed gratitude for receiving the John D. Whisman “Vision” Award from the association which covers 13 Appalachian states. “SEDA-COG lays a strong foundation of community and economic development, and with its partnership-oriented efforts, taps into the deep resiliency of the human spirit and the heartiness of work ethic and soul that characterizes the Appalachian region of central Pennsylvania.
“Each of these efforts can only be successful when partnered with the region’s communities of hardworking, industrious people. SEDA-COG helps give the people of central Pennsylvania the tools to build stronger communities, to realize a better future, and to renew this region as the land of opportunity,” Robinson said.
Robinson has led SEDA-COG’s 11-county planning and development activities to improve the economy, environment and quality of life in central Pennsylvania. In his tenure, he has overseen the staff transition of a fledgling agency of 13 professionals to a current staff of 99 serving 13 diverse programmatic departments. SEDA-COG performs public interest consulting in collaboration with member counties under the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (Act 180).
The SEDA-COG region has a diverse set of needs, and Robinson has led SEDA-COG in being adaptive and proactive in partnering with its communities to meet these needs. Solutions to regional issues are pursued and resolved with SEDA-COG’s professional staff assistance, intergovernmental cooperation, public-private partnerships, and nonprofit organizations. In its economic and community development and local government support efforts, SEDA-COG forges the links that enhance the impact of all the cooperating groups while focusing on the needs of the region’s people.
The impacts of the Appalachian Regional Commission, state and SEDA-COG partnership are vast, but can be exemplified with several highlighted examples. Longstanding partnerships between the Appalachian Regional Commission and SEDA-COG include entities under SEDA-COG’s umbrella: a Joint Rail Authority, Housing Development Corporation and Local Development Corporation. Other collaborations include business development financing, export, government contracting, and harnessing the power of energy for the future.
The John D. Whisman “Vision” Award is given to an individual who has contributed to making the region a better place. The purpose of the award is to honor efforts made by an individual to relieve the deep-seated problems of Appalachia, promote systems of federal, state and local cooperation, and further the mission of the ARC and the local development districts. It recognizes an individual who best supports intergovernmental cooperation as exemplified in the partnership between the Appalachian Regional Commission, the state, and a Local Development District.
The award was established by the Development District Association of Appalachia in 1998 to honor John Whisman of Kentucky who was a founding father of the Appalachian Regional Commission and a strong proponent of the commission’s intergovernmental model including the significant contribution of Local Development Districts to the effort.
The Appalachian Regional Commission's mission is to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.
For more information about the Appalachian Regional Commission, visit www.arc.gov, and for more information about the Development District Association of Appalachia, visit www.ddaa-ldd.org.