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R5DC Welcomes Diona Richards, IEDC Fellow

Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) welcomes Diona Richards, an Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) fellow for the International Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). Alongside partners at the Leech Lake Financial Services, the R5DC will serve as the host organization for Richards, whose role is to focus on securing investments to support the construction industry workforce training, foster Native-owned housing businesses, and increase affordable homeownership for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The outcome of this project is a groundbreaking shift in how housing is approached in Indian Country, leading to increased homeownership, more housing units, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Launched in 2023 through a $30 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), this ERC program was designed to build capacity in some of the hardest-hit and most economically distressed areas across the United States while cultivating the next generation of economic development leaders. Fellows will spearhead catalytic projects that advance new ways of doing economic development to build more resilient, inclusive, and equitable economies.

Diona Richards is a business advisor with more than 15 years of successfully navigating the complexities of the financial industry and launching innovative partnerships with public, private, and nonprofit sectors. In 2020, Diona launched See Me Fund, a social impact organization providing women entrepreneurs access to capital, resources, and strategic networks. In 2022, she launched Seen, a global podcast that promotes women's visibility. With a mission to uplift women, she understands that capital is powerful and that, where deployed, it reflects what communities you choose to empower.


Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) is a high-performing, regionally focused partner providing community development, economic development, and transportation initiatives in central Minnesota. R5DC programs are strategic and resilient and contain an inclusive and collaborative approach, with an emphasis on local foods/agricultural and renewable energy economy. Learn more at


The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,300 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth, and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in a full range of economic development practices. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in various settings, including local, state, provincial, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities, and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. Learn more at


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