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Region Five Development Commission testifies at economic development hearing before Congress

The U.S. House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth hosted the hearing, “Bringing Prosperity to Left-Behind Communities: Using Targeted Place-based Development to Expand Economic Opportunity.”

Cheryal Lee Hills and Levon Johnson sit at a table.
Cheryal Lee Hills, executive director of Region Five Development Commission, left, and Levon Johnson, president and CEO of Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, testify before the U.S. House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth.
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STAPLES — Cheryal Lee Hills, executive director of Region Five Development Commission and representative of the National Association of Development Organizations, testified before Congress Wednesday, May 11.

The U.S. House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth hosted the hearing, “Bringing Prosperity to Left-Behind Communities: Using Targeted Place-based Development to Expand Economic Opportunity.”

Select committee members and policy experts had an opportunity to examine how wealth disparities in local economies have increased — including in rural towns, industrial centers, and urban neighborhoods — and how targeted, place-based initiatives can restore local economies and bring jobs to economically vulnerable regions.

As a federally recognized Economic Development District, Region Five Development Commission develops and maintains the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the region. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy is an intentional equitable economic pathway designed by diverse voices.

“It is imperative to invest in local practitioners who emphasize equity and inclusion in their approaches to community development,” Hills testified during the hearing on local economic development. “We measure success of projects and programs based on improved livelihoods and ownership for those living on the margins of our economy.”

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The hearing's main purpose was to explore targeted, place-based policies to restore local economies and uplift underserved communities.

“In her testimony, Lee Hills not only represented the needs of her region; she also represented the needs and interests of hundreds of other National Association of Development Organizations members across the country,” said Joe McKinney, executive director of the National Association of Development Organizations, said in a news release. “Cheryal was the perfect person to speak about how federal funding and programs can be better targeted to benefit rural and underserved communities in more equitable and impactful ways.”

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