BENTON HARBOR, Mich., (April 6, 2023) – Rob Cleveland, President of Cornerstone Alliance, recently returned from serving as a member of the Advisory Services Panel, assisting the Albemarle Commission in Northeast North Carolina.

The Advisory Services Panel, composed of economic development executives from across the country, was organized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) using a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Panel of seven economic developers, and several IEDC team members, spent four days in Northeast North Carolina, visiting all 10 counties in the region.

“In order to help underserved, and disaster-stricken communities, the IEDC organizes groups of ED professionals to assist in economic recovery based upon our experiences,” said Rob Cleveland, President and CEO of Cornerstone Alliance. “Being able to work alongside colleagues from other parts of the country was a great learning experience. The IEDC equipped panel members with the necessary information so we were able to make impactful recommendations. We shared ideas and presented possible solutions to the Albemarle Commission that will assist the region in maximizing its economic potential. There is real benefit in getting a fresh perspective on the assets and opportunities of a community, and that’s what our Panel was able to do for Northeast North Carolina.”

IEDC divided the group into two Panel groups, each visiting economic development stakeholders in the Albemarle Region. Based on feedback in those meetings, IEDC staff then shared a written SWOT analysis and recommendations for the creation of the Albemarle Commission’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The CEDS is a necessary tool that provides access to federal funding for economic development projects. The IEDC will also include a companion paper with case examples and practical steps.

“For more than 30 years, the communities and businesses in Berrien County have made an unwavering commitment to economic development,” said John Janick, Chairperson of the Cornerstone Alliance Board of Directors. “Because of that commitment, Cornerstone Alliance is recognized as one of the most effective and most visible economic development organizations in the Midwest. The IEDC has been a great partner for us, and we are happy we were able to help.”