MEDC Winter Conference on tap

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Published: February 7,2005

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) chairman Glenn McCullough will share tricks of the trade with economic developers at the Mississippi Economic Development Council (MEDC) annual winter conference, to be held February 9-11 at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson.

“The winter conference is set to be a big success,” said Jason Brookins, conference chairman and president-elect of MEDC and executive director of the Hinds County Economic Development District. “The presenters are knowledgeable and powerful … and aptly fit the conference theme, ‘Knowledge is Power.’”

Sponsored by Entergy, JBHM Architects, Government Consultants Inc., Jackson County Economic Development Foundation Inc., Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Mississippi Power Company, Mississippi Technology Alliance, Mississippi World Trade Center, Neel-Schaffer Inc. and the Southwest Mississippi Partnership, the MEDC winter conference features the following speakers:

• Dennis J. Donovan, a principal with Wadley-Donovan-Gutshaw (WDG) Consulting, who is responsible for worldwide site selection and has talked to groups about corporate location trends, site selector expectations and regional economic development. He will present programs on Mississippi’s competitiveness and the CoreNet 2010 Research Initiative. (CoreNet is a global association for corporate real estate and related professionals.)

• Eric Canada of Blane, Canada, Ltd., a familiar face to economic developers who have attended the Economic Development Institute (EDI) and a nationally recognized authority on economic development marketing, will discuss business retention.

• David Aker, an organizational management expert with Aker and Associates in Palm Springs, Calif., and one of five planning commissioners appointed to the Sovereign Nation of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, will present sessions geared toward chamber of commerce professionals.

“Our speakers are people that our members very much wanted to hear from,” said Brookins. “We worked hard to secure them for the winter conference. For those already familiar with Mississippi, it was a pretty easy sell.”

Approximately 300 of MEDC’s more than 500 members are expected to attend the winter conference, which the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) began recognizing for the first time this year as a professional development event that counts toward the re-certification of Certified Economic Developers (CEcD).

Two seminar tracks, one for economic developers and another for chamber members, will run throughout the conference.

“The MEDC works hard to make sure we’re providing the educational programs our members need to continue their professional career,” said Brookins. “We really hope that the members get what they’re looking for — better ways to do their jobs — by understanding trends relating to economic development and chamber issues statewide and nationwide because these folks will be talking about issues impacting not only Mississippi, but also how we do our jobs globally.”

MEDC president Jim Flanagan, who serves as president and CEO of the DeSoto County Economic Development District, said the addition several years ago of Carol Hardwick as association manager “has added real value back to the membership and (given us) the opportunity to alert members of current legislation other educational opportunities.”

McCullough will give the keynote address at the Thursday luncheon, during which the Jimmy and Ray Heidel Economic Development Leadership Award will be presented. The annual award program, which provides the recipient with tuition for the first year of either the EDI or the Community Development Institute, fosters further development of promising economic development practitioner leadership skills.

The three-day conference will end Friday with a Tonight Show-like talk show format, “LIVE with the Legislature,” hosted by MEDC legislative committee chairman Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government of Mississippi State University.

MEDC will host its annual summer conference July 13-15 at the Isle of Capri Casino Resort in Biloxi.

“We always have a great time at these conferences because we’re a tight-knit group, but we always expect to get a lot of them,” said Brookins.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

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