Conference Exceeds Expectations

Thursday, December 06, 2018

(by Sharon Stroh)



 It's been several years since I was this impressed with a conference.  Certainly Chicago in the winter is not an easy draw, but there were hundreds of colleagues from the Midwest in attendance at the Mid America EDC Competitiveness Conference and Site Selector Forum December 2nd, 3rd and 4th, myself included. Breakout session included some timely topics right now in the economic development industry, like raising public and private capital to produce results, the difference between skills and jobs, and the importance of community collaboration in business attraction.

Here are some of my thoughts on what I learned...

When it comes to raising capital, it's apparent that both the public and the private sectors need to come together in making sure there is enough financial capital to sustain the economic development organizations that increase the value of our community through jobs and investment, thus increasing tax revenue to provide services like public safety and infrastructure improvements. 

Now let's talk about workforce. Bill Gates once said "Employers should focus on skills, not degrees. By using a college degree as a requirement, employers are automatically overlooking people that are capable but have no degree."  One presenter also added that we need to consider that students are being prepared for jobs that may not exist when they are ready to enter the workforce, further negatively impacting the workforce pipeline. Perhaps its time to pivot marketing skill sets instead of jobs?

And lastly, Leslie Wagner, Senior Principal at GINOVUS has this to say about collaborative communities- "Sites are often evaluated based upon human capital, business climate, availability of real estate and costs, and utility strength/rates...all of which are important; however, what is often missing from the matrix is how communities prepare for projects and how collaborative they are amongst themselves and with site consultants (i.e. The Collaborative Score). The missing link is the qualitative nature and extent to which a community is fully aligned with its economic development efforts. A highly collaborative community is one which has an agreed upon and holistic approach to business attraction and retention." I think Robert Fulghum summed up the word collaboration nicely in his book "All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten" Be Kind. Share. Work and Play Together. 

So yes, it was a fabulous and unexpected experience made all the sweeter by having received a scholarship valued at $1500. I hope I can again join these new-found colleagues next year- first Sunday through Tuesday of December, 2019.

Category: Economic Development, Business/Finance/Economy, Awards and Recognition, Workshops

Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation 217 East Main Street Ottumwa, Iowa  52501
Phone 641-682-3465 Fax 641-682-3466