2021 WEDA Best Practices Conference 

Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, 2021  –   Red Lion Paper Valley Hotel   |   Appleton, WI

It’s “back to basics” for the 2021 WEDA Best Practices Conference! Just like the Packers need to attend training camp before the NFL season kicks-off, economic development professionals also need to return to “training camp” to restudy industry basics and learn about new best practices that are driving growth and prosperity in communities across the state and throughout the country. That’s exactly what the Best Practices Conference offers – a unique opportunity to sharpen your skills and tighten your grasp on the foundational elements of economic development.

WEDA’s 2021 Best Practices Conference, formerly the Fall Conference, will be held in Appleton, WI from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1, 2021. The conference audience will include 150-200 economic and community development professionals as well as workforce development professionals and business leaders from across Wisconsin.  It is a great opportunity to re-connect and re-new relationships with business owners and professionals who work to shape Wisconsin’s economic and workforce future!

WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes will kick-off the conference, which will  feature nationally respected speakers, who will cover nearly every foundational economic development topic, including workforce development, business retention and expansion, talent and business attraction, and  diversity and equity issues. We will even celebrate our industry with Party in the Park Reception!

Pre-conference activities start with a WEDA Academy seminar – Workforce Development: Overcoming Barriers and Building Opportunities (CLICK HERE to register). We are also offering a limited seating on-site tour at three historic buildings that were redeveloped into multi-unit housing. We hope you’ll embrace this opportunity to meet the developers and hear how these projects utilized creative funding streams to make the projects affordable and financially feasible. Sign-up HERE for the tour.

CLICK HERE to review the Conference Agenda.


Featured Speakers

Minah C. Hall, CCIP, Esq., Managing Director, Compass Key Solutions, LLC

Minah Hall assists with site selection and negotiated tax incentives for companies at every stage of development, from Fortune 500, mid-sized, to start-up companies.  With over twenty years of experience providing strategic site selection guidance, negotiating and implementing state and local tax incentives for distribution and manufacturing facilities, data centers, back office/call center operations, retailers, and corporate headquarter relocations, Ms. Hall creates benefits for companies making extraordinary expenditures.

Ms. Hall is actively involved in many Site Selection and Credits & Incentives related conferences; she has been a speaker at various national conferences including the Area Development’s Consultants Forums and Women in Economic Development Conferences. She was named one of International Tax Review’s 2016 & 2017 Women in Tax Leaders and is the 2016 IPT Instructor of the Year for the Credit & Incentives School. The Village of Long Grove appointed Ms. Hall an Economic Development Commissioner in 2018.  Previously, Ms. Hall was Managing Director at a boutique tax consulting firm and worked at several Big-Four accounting firms.  She began her career at Arthur Andersen.

Ms. Hall received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and is a Certified Credits & Incentives Professional (CCIP).  She is licensed to practice law in Illinois.


Secretary Missy Hughes, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Melissa “Missy” Hughes is secretary and CEO of WEDC, Wisconsin’s lead economic development organization. Before joining WEDC in October 2019, she was general counsel and chief mission officer at Organic Valley.

Her previous positions include associate attorney at the firm of Holland & Hart, where she practiced in the areas of natural resources, construction litigation and corporate business transactions.  She served on the boards of the Environmental Working Group and the Organic Trade Association, where she was a three-term board president. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture appointed Hughes to the USDA Advisory Committee on Agriculture and Biotechnology in the 21st Century.

Hughes received her bachelor of arts in political science from Georgetown University and juris doctor degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law.


Mark Eppli, Director – Faculty Associate, James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate | Real Estate and Urban Land Economics

Mark Eppli is Director of the James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, Eppli served as Interim James H. Keyes Dean of Business Administration from 2012 to 2015 and as a professor of finance and Bell Chair in Real Estate at Marquette University. He has been instrumental in building the Center for Real Estate and the real estate program at Marquette that has enhanced the reputation of the business school not only regionally but also nationally.

Widely published in commercial real estate finance, development and valuation, his research has been published in dozens of top-respected real estate journals. Dr. Eppli is co-author of two books: Real Estate Development: Principles and Process and Valuing the New Urbanism, both published by the Urban Land Institute. He is an independent board member for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago since 2012, and he is immediate past president of the nonprofit Real Estate Research Institute. Dr. Eppli was named a “Distinguished Fellow” by NAIOP, a national commercial real estate organization, which recognizes him as a foremost real estate policy expert. He has also received awards from the Greater Washington Urban League and the Urban Land Institute for his efforts to attract minorities to the real estate profession.

Dr. Eppli earned his Ph.D., Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.


Barry Nickerson, Director of Initiatives, Council for Adult & Experiential Learning (CAEL)

As director of initiatives, Barry Nickerson engages with higher education and workforce partners to uncover and resolve inequities in access and success.  As a subject matter expert in institutional assessment and change management, he engages with statewide, regional and international higher education systems to elevate adult learner success.

Prior to joining CAEL in 2016, Nickerson managed Rhode Island’s Governor’s workforce Board healthcare industry partnership, oversaw the implementation of Rhode Island’s first statewide Nurse Residency program and served on the executive board for the State Implementation Plan for the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report recommendations.  His experience includes career and academic advising, designing and implementing articulation agreements, implementing community-to-college pathways, and convening employer and education stakeholders to address talent gaps through strategic partnerships.


Conference Registration Fees

Full Conference Registration includes Wednesday evening reception, Thursday morning continental breakfast & breaks, Thursday luncheon, Thursday evening reception, Friday morning breakfast and morning break.

Full Conference Rate:

  • WEDA Member:   $250
  • Non-Member:   $325

Thursday Only Rate:

  • WEDA Member:  $200
  • Non-Member:  $275

Friday Only Rate:

  • WEDA Member:    $95
  • Non-Member:   $125

Early Bird Registration: Register by September 10, and you will be entered into a drawing to receive a special Gift Box!  Three lucky winners will enjoy products from across the state.  Winners to be announced at the conference.

Thank you to our early bird gift box sponsors:    Calumet County, City of Appleton, WWBIC, and Appleton Downtown


Red Lion Paper Valley Hotel

333 West College Avenue, Appleton, WI  54911

Special WEDA Conference Rates:   $82/Sgl   |    $109/Dbl

Reserve NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 1, 2021, qualify for the discounted lodging rate

To make reservations, call 1.920.733.8000 or 1.800.333.3333

Parking is available in the public parking ramp connected by the skywalk to the hotel.  Please visit https://feexhibitioncenter.com/parking/ for details and a map showing the locations of the parking ramps to the hotel.

Exhibit Tables Available

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to share your products and services. For more information on exhibit tables, please contact WEDA conference planner Kathy Davies @ kdavies@weda.org or 715.344.2457.

Additional Information:

  • Conference Handouts will be posted on the WEDA website by September 30.
  • Conference Attire is business casual.
  • This conference is approved for IDEC credits.
  • Watch this website for updated information as conference dates near.

Special Thanks to the 2021 Best Practices Conference Sponsors:                                                      

  • Keynote Sponsor: City of Appleton
  • Opening Reception Sponsor: Pfefferle
  • Supporting Sponsor: Ehlers
  • Early Bird Sponsor: Calumet County
  • Hospitality Suite Sponsors: Vierbicher & CG Schmidt
  • Break Sponsors: ISG, Inc. & Vierbicher
  • Nametag & Lanyard Sponsor: Boldt
  • Lunch Sponsor: FIRE (First-Ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprise)
  • Supporting Sponsor: Greenfire
  • Breakfast Buffett Sponsor: Redevelopment Resources





Thank You to our Conference Planning Team:

  • Becky Albert, Ho-Chunk Nation
  • Kelly Armstrong, Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce
  • Kathryn Berger, CG Schmidt
  • Francisco Carrillo, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Kathy Davies, Wisconsin Economic Development Association
  • Karen Harkness, City of Appleton
  • Kathy Heady, Wisconsin Economic Development Association
  • Maysee Herr, Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce
  • Melissa Hunt, Vierbicher
  • David Kircher, Phoenix Advisors
  • Rob Kleman, Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Kohrell, Calumet County
  • Mary Perry, Wisconsin Economic Development Association
  • Jayme Sellen, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce
  • Jennifer Stephany, Downtown Appleton
  • Michael Welsh, Wisconsin Economic Development Association
  • Errin, Welty, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation