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About SEDC - History & Mission

Tracing our roots to the fall of 1946, the Southern Economic Development Council is the oldest and largest regional economic development association in North America. We have members in 17 states in the American South, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

SEDC is a non-profit, 501 (c)(6), membership organization governed by a Board of Directors and Executive Committee. One director is elected by each member state to serve with elected officers on the Board of Directors. Our office is located in Atlanta and managed by a professional staff.


Vision Statement


SEDC will be THE innovative, effective professional economic development organization.


Mission Statement


SEDC will provide useful information and dynamic leadership to economic development practitioners throughout the American South.


Our History

In the fall of 1946, the late W. Porter Grace, then manager of the Industrial Department of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce, hosted a small group in Memphis, Tennessee to discuss mutual interests and problems relating to industrial development in the South. Feeling the need for closer communication with his fellow professionals, he invited 24 men from throughout the South who were involved in various aspects of industrial development.

Thus, the Southern Industrial Development Council was born. After meeting for two and a half days, the group agreed to continue this type of discussion at Birmingham, Alabama the following year. The meetings continued on an informal basis at Dallas (1948), Atlanta (1949) and Shreveport, Louisiana (1950).

The Shreveport meeting is one of special significance, since it was decided that if the annual meetings were to be continued, a formal organization was desirable. A committee was appointed to draft a charter and by-laws for the following year's meeting.

The Fort Worth meeting in 1951 is a major milestone in the history of SIDC. It was the first meeting to which an invitation was extended to all practitioners of industrial development in the southern region.

At its business session, the group voted to accept the proposed charter and by-laws with provisions for annual dues and the official designation of the organization as the "Southern Industrial Development Council". W. Porter Grace was elected first president, a deserved recognition of his contribution as founder of the new organization.

The first annual meeting of the newly organized SIDC was held in 1952 in Charlotte, NC. Subsequent conferences have been held at Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; Jacksonville, FL; Jackson, MS; Houston, TX; Raleigh, NC; Biloxi, MS; Little Rock, AR; Tampa, FL; Knoxville, TN; Oklahoma City, OK; Winston-Salem, NC; Louisville, KY; Austin, TX; Miami, FL; Memphis, TN; St. Louis, MO; Baltimore, MD; Biloxi, MS; Corpus Christi, TX; Atlanta, GA; Louisville, KY; Tulsa, OK; Nashville, TN; Baton Rouge, LA; San Antonio, TX; Washington, DC; Kansas City, MO; Daytona Beach, FL; Virginia Beach, VA; Lexington, KY; Little Rock, AR; Savannah, GA; Lafayette, LA; Austin, TX; Memphis, TN; Charleston, SC; Virginia Beach, VA; Biloxi, MS; Asheville, NC; New Orleans, LA; Louisville, KY; Myrtle Beach, SC; Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Winston-Salem, NC; Williamsburg, VA; Jackson, MS; Charleston, WV; Kansas City, MO; Birmingham, AL; Hilton Head Island, SC; New Orleans, LA; Baltimore, MD; Orlando, FL; Little Rock, AR and Hot Springs, VA.

By 1958, SIDC had become a substantial organization, with nearly 200 members, and in the years following the membership rolls grew steadily. A project long discussed among SIDC members came to a head at Little Rock in 1960. An Industrial Development Education Committee was appointed to explore the need for and feasibility of establishing some type of training program for ID practitioners. In 1961 at Tampa, the Education Committee and Officers of SIDC, after considering proposals submitted by three educational institutions, selected the University of Oklahoma, at Norman, as the site of the initial "Institute." The group recommended a course of instruction in industrial development extending through three concurrent week-long sessions.

In August 1962, the SIDC-sponsored Institute opened its doors for the first one-week session with 39 students enrolled. Attesting to the subsequent success of the Institute is the fact that in October 1963, the American Industrial Development Council (now International Economic Development Council) assumed direct sponsorship of the Institute which annually enrolls over 400 attendees.
In 1967, the Industrial Development Division (now the Economic Development Laboratory at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta) became the secretariat of the Council. A transition was made in 1981 to a "free standing" office in Atlanta staffed by the Executive Director and an Administrative Assistant. In 1993, the office was moved to Austin, Texas, and in 1994 moved back to Atlanta, Georgia. Today the nation's oldest regional development council, SEDC is a vigorous, growing organization with over 1,000 members from 30 states and territories.

Some revisions in the Council's structure and operation were accomplished at the annual conference in Oklahoma City in 1963, Louisville in 1965, and Memphis in 1968. A major overhaul of the Constitution and adoption of a separate set of By-Laws were approved at the Atlanta conference in 1973; minor structural changes were voted in 1974 at Louisville; 1977 at Baton Rouge; 1980 at Kansas City; 1981 at Daytona Beach; 1985 at Savannah; 1986 at Lafayette; 1987 at Austin; 1988 at Memphis; 1989 at Charleston; 1993 at New Orleans and 1995 at Myrtle Beach. The first major territorial expansion was made in 1981 when Kansas was included with a voting director.

At the 1995 conference in Myrtle Beach, the membership voted to change the name of the Southern Industrial Development Council to the Southern Economic Development Council.