The Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) presented Debbie Melvin, Assistant Vice President for Workforce Solutions at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, and Florence G. Kingston, Director of the Department of Development for the City of Newport News, with the 2019 Cardinal Award at the VEDA Fall Conference in Richmond.
The Cardinal Award is the most prestigious award bestowed by VEDA to deserving members. The award recognizes leadership in the field of economic development, outstanding professional accomplishments, and exceptional service to the organization.
Melvin, according to her nomination letter, “has a laser-focus on the important business clients she serves, is equally committed to serving all of the economic development partners with whom she engages…and is a is a servant leader, fueled by a desire to contribute to making Virginia the best place in the world to live, work, play and raise a family.”
She is known for leading by example and has been instrumental and persistent in molding the Virginia Jobs Investment Program into an effective, user-friendly, highly-regarded workforce development program.
Melvin has worked tirelessly for VEDA for many years, including serving as VEDA’s board president in 2017.
Kingston has served a direct role in economic development for 40 years, beginning her career with the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority in 1979, and, for the last 16 years, serving as the city’s Director of the Department of Development and Secretary/Treasurer of the Economic/Industrial Development Authorities.
A Newport News native, Kingston has overseen and directly negotiated many of the transformative projects that have been a driving force in shaping the city into a viable, business-friendly location.
She has, according to her nomination letter, “tirelessly worked to better the City of Newport News and serves as an example for how to perform economic development in a transparent and responsible manner that finds the win-win for the partnerships involved.”
Some of the noted projects Kingston was instrumental in include City Center at Oyster Point, a former industrial park, which was transformed into a high-density, mixed-use central business district with over one million square feet of Class A office space and the premier office location on the Virginia Peninsula; and Tech Center, a mixed-use development that provides research and development space adjacent to Jefferson Lab to facilitate future expansion at the facility and allow for greater technology commercialization.
For Kingston, a long-time VEDA member, “economic development is not just a field of professional practice, but a passion rooted in the knowledge that economic development can and does generate change in communities, bettering the lives of their citizens.”
VEDA is a non-profit, non-partisan membership association for individuals with a professional interest in economic development across the Commonwealth of Virginia. VEDA serves as the voice of economic development in Virginia and was founded in 1982 to increase the effectiveness of individuals involved in the practice of economic development in Virginia by encouraging cooperation, exchange of information, and professional development activities. For more information, visit goveda.org.