Shoals’ Forrest Wright receives top Alabama economic development award

By  | February 17, 2017 | Filed under: News

MONTGOMERY– The Alabama Department of Commerce recognized Forrest Wright, president of the Shoals Economic Development Authority (SEDA), with the David R. Echols Distinguished Service Award for exemplary service in economic development.


This award, presented annually at the Economic Development Association of Alabama (EDAA) winter conference, is the highest statewide recognition available to the state’s economic development professionals.


Presented in honor of David Echols, a senior project manager at the Department of Commerce, this distinction is given to an Alabama economic development individual who demonstrates the highest ideals of professionalism and character. Echols set a high standard for economic development in Alabama, and his legacy continues through this award.


“Forrest Wright demonstrates all of the values that we consider important for this award selection,” said Bob Smith, assistant director for business development at Commerce. “Forrest and his staff are always professional, prepared and diligent in leaving no stone unturned working projects for the Shoals area.”


EDAA Executive Director Jim Searcy

EDAA Executive Director Jim Searcy said the skill sets involved in a successful economic development program are constantly evolving.


“The economic development profession is rapidly changing. However, there are universal characteristics that guide the most successful practitioners,” Searcy said. “Personal and professional integrity, commitment to community, and a keen intellect are the qualities that have made Forrest a successful economic developer and integral in efforts to move Alabama forward.”


Wright, in accepting the award, credited the SEDA Board of Directors and staff for establishing a high standard for the organization. “In this profession, it’s quite an honor to be chosen to receive the David R. Echols Award,” Wright said. “Frankly, the honor is magnified when you consider the ‘Who’s Who in Economic Development’ list of past recipients.”


Previous recipients of the Echols award are Dus Rogers, president and CEO of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority; Ellen McNair, senior vice resident, economic development, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce; Phillip Dunlap, economic development director for the City of Auburn; Mike McCain, executive director for the Gadsden-Etowah County Industrial Development Authority; and Greg Barker, senior vice president, marketing and economic development for the Alabama Power Co.

Also attending the presentation ceremony held in Montgomery were SEDA Board Chairman Steve Hargrove and Executive Committee member Rose Jones, associate dean at Northwest Shoals Community College.


Steve Hargrove

“Forrest well deserves to receive the Echols Distinguished Service Award in economic development. He is a leader in our community and state who demonstrates the professionalism and work ethic that is required to be successful in this profession,” Hargrove said.


Added Jones: “Having worked with Forrest over the past few years, it didn’t surprise me at all to find out he was receiving this prestigious award. Our area is truly fortunate to have someone with his abilities working to recruit industry to the area.”


This year’s EDAA winter conference was held Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa.


Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce

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