Melissa Elected WEDA Board Chair

Melissa Hunt, CEcD, planning and economic development professional with Ayres, was elected chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) Board on Thursday at the WEDA Governor’s Conference in Wisconsin Dells.

Founded in 1975, WEDA is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to expanding Wisconsin’s economy. It represents the economic development interests of both the private and public sectors through advocacy, networking, and education to provide members with the resources and tools to strengthen their skills in economic development, help achieve their professional goals, and promote economic growth.

Hunt has been a member of WEDA since 2006 and has been on the board since 2021. She became Board Chair-Elect of the WEDA Board of Directors in 2023. She also has been on the Education Committee for many years and currently chairs that committee and the Conference Planning Committee. In 2022 Hunt was honored with WEDA’s Andy Lisak Young Professional Award.

Hunt has worked for the past few years toward establishing a Young Professionals Engagement Network (YPEN) to provide a safe and inclusive space for new economic development professionals to network, engage, share ideas, ask questions, and seek help.

“It is imperative to support emerging professionals as we continue to grow the industry and promote Wisconsin,” says Hunt, who noted the YPEN officially launched during this week’s Governor’s Conference.

Hunt’s next goal is to establish a Women in Economic Development Network. It is hoped that this group can launch at WEDA’s Fall Best Practices Conference in September.

Hunt has nearly two decades of experience assisting communities with crafting and implementing effective economic development strategies. Based in Ayres’ Madison office, Hunt collaborates with regional and state organizations, community leaders, business owners, and key stakeholders as she guides visioning, data analysis, master planning, and studies that successfully lead to and support opportunities for growth and development. She works with Ayres’ planners, economic development specialists, landscape architects, environmental scientists, and engineers to turn plans and studies into buildable design solutions that bolster local vitality and economies.

Hunt also offers expertise to assist with job creation and increased tax base through business growth and retention for Ayres’ clients. She has helped Wisconsin communities access grant dollars to implement projects of various scales.

Hunt is a certified economic developer (CEcD) and economic development finance professional (EDFP), as well as an active board member for the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council (WDAC).