Mar 4, 2014

Joint Summit: Getting people together can be a simple, powerful first step

Excerpted from Wisconsin State Journal
By Bob Van Enkenvoort

We live in a digital world where online networking is the rage. Like never before, people can link up with others around the world to job hunt or create professional associations. It’s amazing.

But let’s not forget that old-fashioned networking — where you can look someone in the eyes, shake hands, discuss common interests and exchange ideas — never goes out of style. Friends can be made, relationships built and partnerships established. Similar interests, goals and ideas can be discovered where one might previously have thought few existed.

South-central Wisconsin has many groups seeking to enhance economic development and, in turn, improve the ability of all people to use their talents and work ethic to make a good living.

Mark Richardson saw that first hand while working for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League of Greater Madison and in his current job with the Madison Region Economic Partnership, formerly Thrive.

But if those groups were driving toward the same economic development goals, they were traveling on different roadways. “It seemed like we were having the same conversations but in different places,” Richardson said.

Sometimes, a catalyst is needed to get those diverse groups — which have many of the same goals — together. One such catalyst is Advancing Talent, Opportunity and Prosperity: The Madison Region’s Economic Development, Diversity and Leadership Summit, scheduled for May 9 at Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center.

MadREP’s annual State of the Madison Region Summit and the Urban League’s Workplace Diversity and Leadership Summit previously were separate events held weeks apart in May. The groups joined together on the principle that collaboration is integral to advancing the Madison region’s economy and improving opportunities for all the region’s citizens.

The daylong summit will tackle economic, work force and community development issues, especially how they relate to MadREP’s five-year Advance Now Strategy for economic growth and the Urban League’s initiatives for community transformation.

MadREP’s strategy relies on collaboration and involvement at every level. “Economic, work force and community development are inherently intertwined,” said Paul Jadin, MadREP president. “With this partnership, we are committed to bringing together a diversity of voices to address the region’s challenges, celebrate our progress, and leverage the opportunities that will ensure our economy’s continued growth.”

People have many talents. Economic development has many facets from education, entrepreneurship to management and beyond. Who knows what the ripple effect can be when you get people in the same room, focusing on the same things? Bridges can be built. Ideas shared. Progress made.

Read the full article.