University Economic Development Association

UEDA Announces Category Leaders for 2021 Awards of Excellence​

Contact: Tim Hindes


PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – September 28, 2021 – Last week, the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) announced winners of its annual Awards of Excellence program during their annual Summit hosted in Savannah, Georgia.

Leading initiatives from across North America competed in a six-month process, including application, peer review, online presentations, and, ultimately, selection by attendees of the annual UEDA Summit as category leaders. The Awards of Excellence Program recognizes organizations who are transforming their campuses into engines of economic prosperity through leading edge initiatives in categories spanning the realms of talent, innovation and place.

“Never before has economic engagement of higher education institutions been more critical to our economic redesign,” said Tim Hindes, UEDA Executive Director. “UEDA’s model of highlighting best practices in economic engagement continues to locate, highlight, and recognize those initiatives that best exemplify sustainable models that are making remarkable, positive impacts on regional economic ecosystems across North America.”

Throughout the Awards of Excellence process, nominations are judged on the sustainability, replicability, originality, and impact of their programs or initiatives. Those receiving the top marks in these criteria advance through the process, culminating in recognition as the category leader by peers in attendance at the annual UEDA Summit.

The 2021 Awards of Excellence category leaders are:

Talent Category
California State University Northridge
The AIMS^2 Program at CSUN

Talent + Place Category
Tennessee Tech University, Office of Research and Economic Development
Rural Reimagined Grand Challenge

Innovation Category
University of North Dakota Center for Innovation
Legendary Leaders In Innovation

Innovation + Talent Category
University of Alaska Center for Economic Development
The Failure // Resilience Project

Place Category
Western Illinois University – IL. Institute for Rural Affairs
Rural Fresh Markets

Place + Innovation Category
University of Missouri – Kansas City
Building Bridges for Just-In-Time Small Business Support

Judges’ Award Recipient
James Madison University
JMU/BRCC/Merck Public Private Partnership in Workforce Development

How the Awards Process Works
University project teams applied for the UEDA Awards of Excellence Program. Projects were reviewed and scored by an executive award committee and three or four project finalists were selected for each category. Project finalists presented their projects for participants of the annual UEDA Summit, where the audience of peers voted for projects that best exemplified the criteria for their category. Throughout the process, projects were judged on scalability, sustainability, impact originality, and the ability to be replicated. Awards were presented during a celebration that was held on September 21, 2021 in Savannah, Georgia.

The 2021 UEDA Summit was generously sponsored by Georgia Southern University, Elsevier, California State University Northridge, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Savannah Economic Development Authority, TrailBlaze Creative, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, MEP National Network, University of Wisconsin Madison, Venn University, BGSU Center for Regional Development, Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement, Georgia Power Community & Economic Development, Gulfstream, The University Financing Foundation, Tripp Umbach, and EDO Marketplace.

Nominations for the 2022 Awards of Excellence program will begin in the spring of 2022 and are open to all competitive initiatives. Watch for more information here.

About UEDA
Established in 1976, the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) is the cornerstone membership organization representing higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders. UEDA works to expand economic opportunity in our communities by leveraging research, community resources, campus planning, talent development, and technology commercialization.  UEDA’s mission is to serve its members by enhancing members’ abilities to deliver economic development benefits through engagement with higher education.