Economic development leaders from all across the country recently traveled to the Coachella Valley for the 2022 IEDC Leadership Summit: the first in-person IEDC conference since the beginning of the pandemic.

CVEP CEO Joe Wallace and CVEP VP Laura James had the honor of speaking at the Summit’s first and most widely attended breakout session: Is Your Regional Innovation Hub Focused on Building a Culture of Diversification? They were joined by fellow speaker and moderator Victoria Duley, Executive Director of the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation in Saranac Lake, NY.

The Leadership Summit was an opportunity to showcase the collaborative work of the iHub program, managed in the Coachella Valley by CVEP and funded by Wells Fargo, the cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indio. Attendees at the Summit were treated to a traditional Coachella Valley experience: a golf-laden resort lifestyle, in picturesque surroundings (not to mention perfect weather!). And it was this experience that helped to drive the points of Wallace’s and James’ presentations home. The expert economic developers attending the Leadership Summit could easily discern the overabundance of lower-wage hospitality jobs. They had also taken note of the dearth of company headquarters or branch offices that would be brimming with professional jobs.

Wallace’s presentation focused on Regional Innovation Hubs – specifically, the iHub program.  Among many evidence-based economic development programs, he demonstrated why local leaders have identified the iHub program as one of the region’s most critical for sustainable and inclusive growth.

James closed the session with her presentation, Finding Your Region’s Innovators. She demonstrated the clear link between effective outreach and a successful program, while providing practical tactics that attendees could begin to implement immediately.

CVEP’s regional approach and its pioneering iHub programs were in the industry spotlight for one afternoon. That afternoon has since blossomed into numerous requests for tours of iHub facilities in the Coachella Valley, and further discussions with economic developers from across the nation who seek to implement similar innovation-focused programs in their own cities and regions.