Folks at the Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC) are busy putting the final touches on the organization’s 2006 Summer Conference. This year’s event, with the theme “Navigating into a New Era,” will be held July 19-21 at the Grand Casino Convention Center in Tunica.
The MEDC’s winter and summer meetings have become a staple of business calendars. A bevy of noted speakers, panel discussions, award presentations, exhibits and more have made the networking event popular among economic developers and chamber of commerce personnel. All of these time-honored offerings will be provided this year, but the 560-member MEDC has augmented its program with a few extracurricular/entertainment options designed to make the meeting as fun as it is informative.
The MEDC serves as the voice of economic and community development as well as chamber of commerce professionals in the State of Mississippi, and the structure of its Summer Conference reflects this dual mission. The event contains two tracks of concurrent sessions, one for economic developers and one for chamber of commerce personnel, covering a wide range of topics.
For example, this year’s economic development focus includes: ‘eSynchronist — Learn how it works and why you need it”; “Preparing to Win — The sales skills you need to succeed”; and, “Closing the Deal — How to close with confidence and integrity”.
In addition, Jim Apple II will speak on “Equity Investing and Job Creation; the intersection of Wall Street & Main Street.” Apple is first vice president of Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. of Memphis, but before he went into finance he spent years in economic development and chamber work in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Originally, the MEDC approached Apple about speaking on business etiquette. During these talks, Apple mentioned that he wished he had the knowledge of how companies come to site selection and/or expansion decisions when he was working in community and economic development.
“Jim said, ‘If I only knew then what I know now.’ I immediately said, ‘Well, speak on that,’” said Carol Hardwick, executive director and COO of the MEDC.
“My talk will focus on helping economic developers with the ‘rest of the story’ as it relates to boardroom drivers,” Apple said. “Many of the companies have a certain capital or management structure that governs decisions on such things as site selection and expansions. It’s information I wish I would have known when I was in economic development.”
On the chamber side, topics include: “After Networking, Now What? — Follow-up and Communication Techniques”; “Surviving in the Chamber Profession — The reflections and confessions of a retired chamber executive”; and, “Keys to Successful Chambers — 2006 and Beyond.”
In addition to the concurrent sessions, there will be luncheon presentation by Dave Dennis, chairman of the New Orleans Federal Reserve Board and president of Specialty Contractors & Associates Inc. of Gulfport who will speak on “The Stars are Aligned for Mississippi.” There will also be four combined sessions including: “Building a Relationship with Your Legislator”; “Marketing Trends/Branding Your Community”; “U.S. Energy Forecast/Energy Use in Mississippi”; and, “MDA New Targeted Market Profiles/State Wage, Hour and Fringe Benefits Survey.”
Another of the event’s components back again in 2006 is the Volunteer of the Year and Governor’s Cup Awards reception, dinner and presentation ceremony. Founded in 1992, the Volunteer of the Year Awards are given annually to individuals who have done an outstanding job of facilitating and promoting economic and community development on a volunteer basis.
The Governor’s Cup Awards are presented by the MEDC in coordination with the Governor’s Office and the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). They are given to honor businesses for their contributions during the past calendar year, raise the general awareness about their successful efforts and showcase their results. The local nominating entity for each district winner is awarded $1,000 for its local existing industry and business program, and an additional $20,000 is awarded if its nominee is chosen as the statewide winner.
Leland Speed, executive director of the MDA, will serve as the presenter for both awards ceremonies.
The MEDC Summer Conference has long offered networking, education — and relaxation. According to Hardwick, her group has added some extracurricular activities that should appeal to attendees.
For more information and/or to register online, visit the MEDC’s Web site at http://www.medc.ms/.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.