‘Model Communities: Strategies for Growth’ Conference to be Held June 25 at Southeast

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 4, 2010 — “Model Communities: Strategies for Growth,” a regional conference for rural communities, is planned for June 25 at Southeast Missouri State University.

The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Robert A. Dempster Hall. The conference will offer ideas, techniques, resources and strategies for growing and developing rural communities. The target audience is community leaders and volunteers, elected officials, community and economic developers, planners, Chamber of Commerce leaders and members, and anyone interested in learning new techniques about how to help their community grow.

The keynote speaker will be Jack Schultz, founder and chief executive officer of Agracel, Inc., an industrial development firm focusing on rural America. Schultz is also author of the book, Boomtown USA: The 7 ½ Keys to Big Success in Smalls Towns. Schultz has been featured in USA Today, Forbes, Business Week, and Economic Development America. He also was named Ernst & Young’s Illinois Entrepreneur of the Year, received the Beta Gamma Sigma Medallion for Entrepreneurship and has spoken to more than 300 communities in 44 states.  

Schulz’s “7 ½ Keys” have been so successful that each guest presenter for this conference has been chosen to address one of the “7 1/2 Keys.”  The topics and presenters can be found on the website semo.edu/modelcommunities.  Two presenter tracks will feature speakers from across the nation with interesting stories to tell about how their communities have overcome odds to become model communities.  Participants will leave these sessions with the understanding that even small towns can make great things happen with the support of partners, other towns, local volunteers and leaders.  These sessions will empower participants to return to their communities and use various new, innovative tools to re-work and re-build those everyday activities.  Confirmed speakers are visiting from Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.

In Friday’s plenary session, Daniel Wallach from Greensburg, Kan., will discuss how his city has recovered from a devastating tornado three years ago. The city has received national recognition for its “green” conversion as it rebuilds.  Prior to the Model Communities Conference will be a pre-conference workshop June 24 featuring Penny Reeh, owner of Indigo Resource Group which manages the Texas Festivals and Events Association. She previously was the director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Fredericksburg, Texas, for nine years. Fredericksburg is a rural community with a population of about 9,000 which saw more than 1.5 million visitors.  Reeh will discuss Fredericksburg’s successes and give tips to community volunteers and leaders on how they can better use community festivals to promote and enhance their small towns.  This pre-conference session will be held from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, in Dempster Hall.

Model Communities is sponsored by the Center for Economic and Business Research, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, WIRED, and the Economic Development Administration.  For more information or to register for this free conference, contact Glenna at (573) 651-2929 or visit http://www.semo.edu/modelcommunities/register.htm.  Registration deadline is June 21. Lunch will be provided free to all who pre-register.