The Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award was presented at the Economic Development Division's annual meeting and reception on April 16 during the 2012 National Conference of the American Planning Association in Los Angeles.

The awards committee consisted of members of the Economic Development Division of the APA:  Julie Herlands, AICP, Principal, TischlerBise ( and Chair-Elect, EDD of the APA; Lance Harris, AICP, Senior Associate, AECOM Economics ( and Secretary/Treasurer-Elect, EDD of the APA; and James Stevens, Senior Associate, ConsultEcon Management & Economic Insight (

2012 Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award

Innovation Square (Gainesville, Florida)

Innovation Square (Gainesville, Florida), is the 2012 recipient of the Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award. The award submittal was co-sponsored by four of the project's major stakeholders — the University of Florida, Shands at UF, City of Gainesville, and the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency — and the urban design and planning consultant, Perkins+Will.

Innovation Square, located between the University of Florida campus and Downtown Gainesville, is a planned mixed-use research neighborhood that is being developed with overwhelming community support and stakeholder collaboration. This urban redevelopment project is expected to transform twelve underutilized blocks in Midtown Gainesville into a mixed-use urban research neighborhood that advances the national and global profile of the city's largest employer — the University of Florida with its medical center, Shands Hospital at UF — and the growing local biotech industry. Unlike the internally focused suburban research parks of the previous decades, Innovation Square aligns the goals of the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida to create a livable, walkable, adaptable, and sustainable urban research district that will give Gainesville a competitive edge in attracting and retaining the best minds and companies in research. As Bernie Machen, the President of the University of Florida, stated: "As we envision it, Innovation Square will be unlike anything you've seen. In fact, it will be nothing short of a complete re-invention of the town square concept." Further, a local commercial developer noted: "Innovation Square is the most exciting opportunity for job growth I've seen in Alachua County. It's the first time I've seen UF, the city and business leaders get on the same page to create office, retail and residential space that will bring real jobs."

The panel was impressed with the project's high quality, establishment of a vision that is not only aspirational but implementable, and the collaboration of a wide-range of stakeholders to create and implement a framework to create a transformative project that will make a lasting contribution to the economic condition of the community. The panel was unanimous in its selection of Innovation Square as the 2012 Award recipient. (Local contacts: Linda B. Dixon, AICP, Associate Director, Facilities Planning and Construction Division, University of Florida, (352) 273-4010,; David Green, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Perkins+Will, (404) 443-7559;

Honorable Mention

Pyramid Lake Economic Development Plan (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, NV)

The panel also selected one Honorable Mention, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe for their Pyramid Lake Economic Development Plan. Over the past 22 years, the Tribe had tried 7 times to adopt a plan for economic development but was unsuccessful because of a lack of a community embraced vision for economic development on the reservation. The latest plan was created and adopted after an extensive public outreach process and truly reflects local conditions and needs. The plan has established the foundation for years of economic growth and opportunity for the Tribe. The panel was impressed with the overall effort particularly the perseverance in getting the Plan adopted, the potential for real impact from the Plan, and the reflection of local needs, goals, and tasks in the Plan. The Plan was also awarded the "Outstanding Plan Award" by the Nevada Chapter of the APA in 2011. (Local Contact: Scott H. Carey, Tribal Planner, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, 775-574-1000 ext 116,