Our Team

Staff Member Photo

Rick Duke, CEcD, EDFP, HLM

Senior Project Executive

Rick offers NCDS clients deep, relevant experience in economic development along with strong management and communications skills to deliver campaigns that produce both financial resources and strategies for program implementation and community impact.  His background with public-private organizations and Universities gives Rick a solid foundation for mobilizing community leaders around growth and prosperity initiatives and for empowering professional staff to deliver proven economic development programming.  Since joining NCDS in 2015, he has combined that background with campaign training and experience to become an exceptional fundraiser who has helped several economic development organizations develop and fund ambitious new plans.

Rick’s initial project helped create One East Kentucky – a new regional effort in Appalachia – and raised over $2 million for its programming and development.  He has also managed several feasibility studies and campaigns in the Midwest, including the Grow Watertown (SD) initiative, where he raised $3.9 million in a community of 22,000 people.  Rick has proven to be especially skilled at leading “first time” campaigns that require careful attention to strategy alignment, tactical detail, staff development, and generating buy-in and confidence from top leaders and investors.

His expertise and exposure to trends and best practices was developed while serving as an economic development professional in higher education at four universities- Georgia Tech, the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Mississippi, and the University of West Florida.  He helped develop the strategic plan for the launch of a Center for Entrepreneurship at UWF with a minor in Innovation Leadership. The programs he led at Georgia Tech garnered national recognition in the 2002 publication Innovation U and in 2005 by Innovation Associates as the “best university-based economic development program in the nation.”  Two programs started under his leadership appear in Georgia Tech’s profile in the recent Innovation U 2.0.

Rick is a past Board member and Honorary Life Member of IEDC, past Director of the Basic Economic Development Course at Georgia Tech, Past President of the Georgia Economic Developers Association and a Past President of the Rotary Club of South Hall County GA.   He is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.  Rick is married, has two grandchildren, and resides in Atlanta.