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WEDA's 2016 FALL CONFERENCE

WEDA’s Fall Conference 2016 was held in Eau Claire, WI with the focus on Making Their Community a Destination for Business and Talent. Eau Claire was recently featured in Time Magazine on the many recent events that have spurred exciting community development efforts. 

During the conference attendees learned about various ways to brand their community as an attractive place to live, work and play.  Attendees learned firsthand how development deals were structured, creative ways to keep and attract talent, and innovative ideas on how music can be an economic driver. Our speakers focused not only on teaching attendees something new, but demonstrate how to implement it in their community.

The conference had a offsite reception, multiple exhibitors, keynote, multiple seminars, and a culinary crawl reception. The conference took place at the new Lismore Hotel in downtown Eau Claire. 

Before the conference.

Before the conference.

Morning session.

Morning session.

Offsite Reception

Offsite Reception

Keynote

Keynote

WEDA Sponsors

WEDA Sponsors

Exhibitors

Exhibitors

Culinary Crawl

Culinary Crawl

Culinary Crawl

Culinary Crawl

Seminar

Seminar

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End Abuse of Wisconsin - Soar Above

This year I had the pleasure of helping End Abuse Wisconsin (http://www.endabusewi.org/) with a new event called Soar Above.  End Abuse Wisconsin partnered with the 115th Fighter Wing  (http://www.115fw.ang.af.mil/) to host the event and bring awareness to both End Abuse and the 115th Green Dot Initiative (ending abuse in the military).

This event was created to help celebrate all of the strong pioneers who have defied limitations to chart new courses in the fight against domestic violence throughout our state … and beyond. Four distinguished “Aviator Awards” were presented to partners who have impacted social justice, blazed new trails for inclusivity, outreach and impact, and made a significant mark on the movement to end domestic violence in Wisconsin.

If you are interested in learning more about End Abuse Wisconsin or donating CLICK HERE!

Soar Above - 115th Hanger

Soar Above - 115th Hanger

Soar Above - 115th Hanger

Soar Above - 115th Hanger

Table Setting

Table Setting

For your next event...hire GROOVE BOOTH - http://www.groovevideophotobooth.com/#groove

For your next event...hire GROOVE BOOTH - http://www.groovevideophotobooth.com/#groove

The Band

The Band

Special thank you to all of our great food and beverage sponsors!

Special thank you to all of our great food and beverage sponsors!

Thank you to our food and beverage sponsors!

Thank you to our food and beverage sponsors!

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Northside Business Walk

Northside - Madison Business Walk

Click Here to Read the Report

Presented By: City of Madison and Madison Gas and Electric

The City of Madison Office of Business Resources and Madison Gas and Electric partnered with the Northside Planning Council, Northside Economic Development Coalition, Northside Business Association, Northside News and the Madison Region Economic Partnership to present the first Northside Business Walk on September 8, 2016.

A Business Walk is an economic development initiative that, in a short amount of time, allows local leaders to get the pulse of how a business community is doing. The premise behind each walk is to “locate the successes and obstacles the local business community is facing and then track that information and provide assistance.”
In total 47 business and civic volunteer's were divided into 12 different groups (two to three people per group) + 3 large employer groups. The 47 volunteers visited 146 businesses in three hours.

                  Their conversation was focused around five basic questions:

·       How’s Business?

·       What do you like about business on the Northside?

·       What can be done to improve business on the Northside?

·       Will your business be affected by the closing of Oscar Mayer?

A few members from the business walk planning committee.

A few members from the business walk planning committee.

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Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Business and Civic Volunteers - Training for the Business Walk

Mayor Paul Soglin

Mayor Paul Soglin

Business Walk

Business Walk

Business Walk

Business Walk

Business Walk

Business Walk

Thank you Willy Street - Co-op North for being our bag sponsor!

Thank you Willy Street - Co-op North for being our bag sponsor!

Each group was assigned a specific area, 12 areas + three large employer groups.

Each group was assigned a specific area, 12 areas + three large employer groups.

When the business walk was completed, 40 companies were followed up with directly. These companies addressed needing additional help or mentioned a major problem to the volunteers. The City of Madison Office of Business Resources coordinated the City’s response to a number of municipal issues brought up by business owners. The Engineering Department, Madison Police, Community Development and Economic Development Departments were connected to the businesses owners and ongoing follow-up is occurring.

The Northside Economic Development Coalition and the Northside Business Association look forward to collaborating with the City of Madison and other economic development partners on Northside projects for the next one to two years and using the report to guide these efforts.

A final report with the business walk findings will be added to the blog very soon. Here are a few pictures from the event.

 

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Community Blueprint - Business Walks - PART 2

(Click Here for Part 1)

How does it work?
The program features a half-day blitz of a business community by trained volunteers who ask business owners/managers a very short list of four questions (see below).

a.)   How is business?
b.)  What do you like about doing business in your area?
c.)   What can be done to improve doing business in your area?
d.)  Would you like someone to follow up with your company after the walk?  

This brief format allows for 100-200 businesses to be reached in two to three hours. A typical half -day Business Walk will include breakfast/registration, training for the volunteers, a business walk in the community, lunch, and a debrief session.  Overall, coordination of the event from start to finish typically takes two to three months.

Why?
The Business Walk Program helps communities create a unified voice and build a stronger relationship between the business community and local government. The program has also initiated change of burdensome regulations, created crime prevention programs and the 3/50 project. But most importantly, it has allowed communities to target and assist companies at risk: saving them from going out of business, relocating to another community, and saving local jobs. Contact Blueprint Events to see how the Business Walk Program can jump start your community’s business retention and expansion efforts!    

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Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship
Presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Honorary Host: Mayor Paul Soglin, City of Madison

This half day conference hosted national and local speakers who addressed the state of the startup environment in the Madison Region. They spoke about successes as well as opportunities to improve and there was great discussion created around challenges entrepreneurs face in Wisconsin. Some would say "the event started off with a bang and ended with a bang" (see Cap Times article).

The event was featured in the Cap Times:  http://host.madison.com/ct/business/technology/tools-for-spurring-startup-growth-scrutinized-at-madison-entrepreneur-summit/article_3ba5c89f-03d9-510f-8df5-8233f549a687.html

Welcome Remarks: Mayor Paul Soglin, City of Madison

Welcome Remarks: Mayor Paul Soglin, City of Madison

Welcome Remarks: Mayor Paul Soglin, City of Madison

Welcome Remarks: Mayor Paul Soglin, City of Madison

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Presentation on the Kauffman Index: Evan Absher, Program Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Presentation on the Kauffman Index: Evan Absher, Program Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Presentation on the Kauffman Index: Evan Absher, Program Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Presentation on the Kauffman Index: Evan Absher, Program Officer, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Panel Response: Paul Jadin, President, Madison Region Economic Partnership, (moderator), Tricia Braun, Deputy Secretary & COO, WEDC (left),  Zach Brandon, President, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (middle) and Tom Still, President, Wisconsin Technology Council (right)

Panel Response: Paul Jadin, President, Madison Region Economic Partnership, (moderator), Tricia Braun, Deputy Secretary & COO, WEDC (left),  Zach Brandon, President, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (middle) and Tom Still, President, Wisconsin Technology Council (right)

Panel Response: Paul Jadin, President, Madison Region Economic Partnership, (moderator), Tricia Braun, Deputy Secretary & COO, WEDC (left),  Zach Brandon, President, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (middle) and Tom Still, President, Wisconsin Technology Council (right)

Panel Response: Paul Jadin, President, Madison Region Economic Partnership, (moderator), Tricia Braun, Deputy Secretary & COO, WEDC (left),  Zach Brandon, President, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce (middle) and Tom Still, President, Wisconsin Technology Council (right)

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Mayor’s Summit on Entrepreneurship

Presentation on Entrepreneurial Activities Across the U.S.: Rhett Morris, Director, Endeavor Insight

Presentation on Entrepreneurial Activities Across the U.S.: Rhett Morris, Director, Endeavor Insight

Panel Response: John Biondi, Director, Discovery 2 Product (D2P) (moderator), Troy Vosseller, Co-Founder, gener8tor (left), Dude Frank, Co-Founder & CTO, Comply365 (middle), and Wes Garnett, Co-Founder & CEO, Kurbi Health (right).

Panel Response: John Biondi, Director, Discovery 2 Product (D2P) (moderator), Troy Vosseller, Co-Founder, gener8tor (left), Dude Frank, Co-Founder & CTO, Comply365 (middle), and Wes Garnett, Co-Founder & CEO, Kurbi Health (right).

Panel Response: John Biondi, Director, Discovery 2 Product (D2P) (moderator), Troy Vosseller, Co-Founder, gener8tor (left), Dude Frank, Co-Founder & CTO, Comply365 (middle), and Wes Garnett, Co-Founder & CEO, Kurbi Health (right).

Panel Response: John Biondi, Director, Discovery 2 Product (D2P) (moderator), Troy Vosseller, Co-Founder, gener8tor (left), Dude Frank, Co-Founder & CTO, Comply365 (middle), and Wes Garnett, Co-Founder & CEO, Kurbi Health (right).

The room was filled with a mix of business and civic leaders as well as entrepreneurs from all over Wisconsin. The discussion ended with business leaders and policy makers thinking about what they can do to help create a more successful entrepreneurial ecosystem in our state. One thing for sure... the conversation definitely does not and should not stop here.

Make sure you #createyourownblueprint for every event you do.

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Community Blueprint - Business Walks - PART 1

What is a Business Walk?

A Business Walk is an economic development initiative that, in a short amount of time, allows local leaders to get the pulse of how a business community is doing. The information gathered is then used to help advocate for the business community as a whole, and is also used by economic professionals to identify which businesses require further outreach.

Why were Business Walks developed?

The initiative was created because economic development professionals realized there was a need for Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) on a large scale. However, many economic development organizations simply lack the time and resources to do it all alone. To that end, Business Walks can be used to help you quickly identify individual businesses, which are facing threats and/or opportunities, thereby necessitating further contact to direct them to appropriate resources. The program was developed not to replace traditional BRE outreach but to enhance it, serving as an entry-level opportunity for BRE efforts.

Part 2: How does it work? Why have one in your community?

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Working The Room - Networking

I have planned and attended hundreds of networking events. So I can tell you that there are two types of people who network.

1.     Person A: Walks in and finds the first familiar face. 

2.    Person B: Scopes out the room, creates a plan, and then proactively tries to interact with new people with the intention of helping their business or someone else’s business.

Let me first say this: there is no “correct” way to network. Person “A” might have intended to only talk to colleagues or friends. In that case, mission complete. With that said, if you are person “A” and want to become person “B,” here is some advice to help you make the most of your time and effort.

1.     Set Expectations Before You Go: Do you want to make new connections to help build your business? Are you looking for new clients? Are you looking for mentors in your field? Are you going to support a cause or see a new space? Or is it a combination of a few of these things? Time is money so it is important to make sure you understand why you are attending an event. Then think of creative ways to craft your elevator pitch around your expectations.

2.     Set A Goal For Yourself: Depending on the size of the event and what your expectations are, you should always set a goal for yourself. This will help you stay focused. A few examples would be… “meet three new people” or “talk to one new person in every corner of the room”. If you find yourself at an event where you know a lot of people already, you might set a goal of “introduce two people to someone else you know”. I think this is a “lost art” in a society where a lot of people only think about themselves. There is power in helping others make connections.  As they say… what goes around comes around.  

3.     Using Your Business Card Correctly: The key to having a business card is only giving it away with purpose. Don’t hand your business card to someone unless you really want to connect. If someone wants to connect with you, they will ask for your card. A tip, that has helped me in the past, is writing on my card where we met. As you can see below, I have a space for it on my card (even if you do not, you can still write it someplace on the card). It will help them remember you and then they are more likely to reach out and connect with you after the event. Also if your goal is three new contacts, keep three business cards in your hand when you walk in. Tell yourself… you can only leave when you have given them away.

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint in everything you do.

Business Card

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The Mental Walk Through

In the previous blog, I talked about going on an initial site visit to help determine your event location. Once you pick a location, I recommend doing a second site visit once a few more details and a theme are in place. This second site visit or as I like to call it, the “mental walk through”, will allow you to create a vision in your head while also making sure logistically everything will work for your event.

For many people, having a checklist is very important to help you stay organized. Checklists ensure that all of your questions and concerns get answered and nothing is forgotten. Remember that every time you host an event, your checklist will be different depending on the type of event. Here are just some examples of questions you need to ask yourself…

1.     How will guests arrive? Car, Bus, Taxi etc.

2.     Where will guests park? Self park? Lots? Valet?

3.     How will attendees find the space? Will you need directional signs or people?

4.     Where are the restrooms? How will people find them?

5.     Will there be any other events happening at the same time as yours?

6.     Where will your signage be set up as they arrive? Where in the space?

7.     Where is registration located? Will it be easy to find? Get bogged down?

8.     Where will people hang their coats when they arrive?

9.     How will the tables/chairs be set up? What is the flexibility to adjust day of?

10. Where will your decorations be set up? Centerpieces?

11. What is the lighting like? Will you need additional lighting?  

12. Where will your stage go? Screens? Projectors? Other Audiovisual?

13. How will the food be displayed? How will it be distributed? Where will the beverages be?

14. How will people exit?  

After you visit your site, it is important to make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Many locations will have an event manger to help you throughout the entire process; you may also establish a working relationship with the catering manager and audiovisual manager as well. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint for every event you do.

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Location Location Location

When planning an event, picking the right location can be a critical first step. Location is so important that sometimes it is the sole determinant if someone will attend or not attend. For some events, location selection will be limited due to the budget, size of the event, and/or any other one-off needs. Unique spaces can create excitement and be visually pleasing while; traditional spaces (hotels, conference centers) can be cost effective and convenient. Below are a few key questions to think about when deciding on a location.

1.     Space: How many people can the space accommodate? How can the space be setup? What time is the space available? When can the setup/breakdown occur? Where will registration take place? What signage needs will you have? How many different spaces are available at the location? Overall condition of the space (is it clean)? What can be changed or added to the space? Is storage space available?

2.     Food: Does the space have a preferred vendor? What does the menu look like? Can you bring in your own food? Is there a prep station available? Catering staff onsite? Where will the food and bar be located?

3.     Audio Visual/Equipment: Do they have an in-house AV team? Do they have the needed equipment for the event (projector, screens, switchers, podium, microphones) or will you have to rent? Lighting?

4.     Other: Flexibility on overall event needs? Parking? Coatroom? Wi-Fi? Other onsite amenities? Bathroom locations? Staff availability the day of the event? What permits are needed? Payment options? Cancelation policy? Other venue responsibilities?

5.     Cost: What will everything cost? Does it fit within the budget?

It will be important to go on a site visit of each location, even if you have been to the location before. Make sure you ask the hard questions and get the answers you want in writing. Having a space that is flexible is important, but also understand that there will never be a perfect location. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint for every event you do. #blueprintwisco

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Why Hire an Event Planner?

A few weeks ago I was at an event and someone asked me “why would my company hire you?” I mistakenly said the thing all corporate event planners say, “I will save you time and money”.  At that moment I could tell by the look on their face they were thinking “so what?” I soon realized that although saving a company time and money was of value, it was not the strongest customer perceived benefit.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.[1] The need to find ways to help anxiety and stress are at an all time high. CareerCast.com rated event planning the fifth most stressful job in the country (military and firefighting were also high stress).[2] The fact is planning an event can be stressful and that is why the strongest customer perceived benefit of hiring someone is to relieve that anxiety and stress.

Not only does hiring a contract event planner help to relieve anxiety but it also allows my clients to step back and focus on their strengths. When planning an event, it is very important to have the necessary skills, connections and ability to ask the right questions in order to gain valuable insights into what the company needs and determine what is logistically possible. Leaving the details and planning to a professional allows for a company to have more confidence in knowing their event will be successful.

[1] Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Facts & Statistics,” www.adaa.org, (September 2014).
[2] Career Cast, “Event Coordinator,” www.careercast.com/slide/5-event-coordinator, (2014)

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