2020 BREI Award Recipients

Business Retention and Expansion International (BREI) presents awards each year to deserving members for excellence in their pursuit of growing and retaining local businesses and industry.  These “Awards of Excellence” are given during the BREI Annual Meeting, which provides an opportunity for peers from throughout the world to hear about the projects and recognize this achievement.

Three awards were presented to deserving programs in 2020.  The 2020 award recipients and their projects are as follows:


Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission receives the Community Impact award for a Single Community with a Population from 20,000 to 50,000 for its project, “Hancock County Aerospace Strategy Initiative.”   

Hancock County is located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the western side of the state. Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission owns and operates Port Bienville Industrial Park in the lower part of the County which houses a maritime Port and short line railroad, home to 14 companies. HCPHC also owns and operates the Stennis International Airport & Airpark in the Northern area of the County, which is home to 12 companies.

The development of a strategy began in 2017 when HCPHC used a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to hire a consulting firm who worked to develop the Aviation and Aerospace Optimization Plan.

As a result of the master planning efforts, HCHPC can now deliver tangible capital improvement projects and site development via marketing materials to relevant parties. This includes least cost development scenarios to mitigate speed to market, environmental and budget variables, but it also prioritized real investments at Stennis International Airport (KHSA) with projects in various stages of completion, including: Announcement of PRCC Aviation & Aerospace Workforce Academy; Construction of 12,000 SF Corporate Hangar; Construction of 26,000 SF Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Hangar; Design of multi-user parallel 5,000 foot runway; Formal application for licensure to the FAA for use of KHSA as a commercial spaceport; Design of 20-Acre Technology Park adjacent to Airport terminal; Part 141 & Part 61 Flight School agreement.

Through implementation of this strategy, existing industry has shown investment through recent announcements, including Relativity Space with 200 new jobs and more than $65 million in capital investment and Lockheed Martin Space Systems with 30 new jobs and $30 million in capital investment


Dufferin Economic Development receives the Community Impact award for a Multi-Community with a Population from 50,000 to 100,000 for its project, “Food for Thought.”

Located approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Toronto and home to over 61,000 residents, Dufferin County is known for its agriculture, arts, charming settlements, rolling hills, beautiful landscape (includes some Niagara Escarpment), and outdoor recreation.

Dufferin County recognized that the Agriculture and Food Sector is a powerful economic generator for their region during a time of strong population growth.  The goal of this project was to engage Dufferin County’s Agriculture and Food business community in an effort to gain valuable insight around the sector’s immediate and future needs, and determine how to support positive change in an effort to enhance the business environment as it pertains to agriculture and food in Dufferin County. This project resulted in a growing collaboration from a wide variety of community groups and businesses working together.


Norfolk Department of Economic Development receives the Community Impact award for a Multi Community with a Population Over 100,000 for its project “COVID-19 Business Retention and Recovery Campaign.”

Norfolk is part of the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metropolitan area, also called the “Hampton Roads” region, in the State of Virginia in the United States. Norfolk, with a population of approximately 245K, is at the heart of the Hampton Roads community, a place 1.7 million people call home.

The Norfolk Department of Economic Development, in partnership with the Hampton Roads Alliance’s Regional Business Recovery Task Force, launched the Business Retention and Recovery campaign as a multifaceted effort designed to position Norfolk for a successful recovery from the COVID-19 disaster. Project components included: a large-scale outreach campaign primarily to small businesses, the immediate creation of the Norfolk Economic Disaster Assistance Loan & Grant products, an integrated marketing communications effort, coupled with the long-term support of businesses identified as “at-risk” for closure.

The Outreach team was able to identify 210 “at-risk” businesses to be monitored and extensively supported with wrap-around services and enhanced resources for a 12-to-18 month period, with a tentative conclusion date of June 2021. The campaign was an incredibly robust effort resulting in over 1,000 businesses directly engaged, more than 350 businesses surveyed, and the distribution of over $300K in grants and loans, before locally administered CARES Act funding became available.


Ryan Kelly, executive director of BREI states, “We are very proud of our three 2020 award recipients for their dedication and hard work at growing and preserving local business.  Their work demonstrates the professionalism and exceptional performance that we have grown to enjoy in our economic developers, and I firmly believe that these projects will have lasting impact in their individual communities.”

For more information on Business Retention and Expansion International, visit http://www.brei.org.

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