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Donald R. Rychnowski Receives 2009 John D. Whisman Vision Award

March 2009


WASHINGTON, March 16, 2009—Donald R. Rychnowski, executive director of the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board in Appalachian New York, has been named the recipient of the 2009 John D. Whisman Vision Award by the Development District Association of Appalachia (DDAA).

The DDAA presents the John D. Whisman Vision Award each year to an individual who has provided exemplary service and leadership in Appalachia and demonstrated a commitment to the ideals of state and federal cooperation.

Cited as a "champion for regional planning and development," Rychnowski has energized the economic development of Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua Counties since being named executive director of Southern Tier West in 1986. Under his leadership, two dormant revolving loan funds were revitalized, resulting in investments in the region in excess of $15 million and the creation of 500 jobs.

He also spearheaded the creation of a community foundation by Southern Tier West to help local governments and community organizations spur economic development within specific communities in the region. Through a subsidiary organization, Southern Tier West was able to keep a 180-mile rail line open, initiate a $25 million rehabilitation program to retain rail-dependent industries, and attract new business for the rail line.

Emphasizing networking and team building as the key to economic development in his development district, Rychnowski initiated programs that serve as best-practice models for the rest of the Appalachian Region.

For the past 16 years, he has also served as the chair of the DDAA's committee to provide professional training to the staff of Appalachia's 74 local development districts.

Established in 1976 by the executive directors of Appalachia's local development districts, the DDAA provides professional and technical training opportunities for local economic development officials and community leaders; directs an annual best-practices conference; and promotes improved communication and quality of service throughout the Appalachian Region.