Why Are 3 Key State Gatherings Coming to Eau Claire?
Word about what’s happening in Eau Claire is spreading around Wisconsin. Over the next six weeks, three major conferences will be held downtown at the request of leaders from throughout the state, and I’m lucky for the chance to appear at all three events. First is the fall meeting of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association on Oct. 4-6. WEDA is a group of more than 400 public and private economic development organizations. Their conference features speakers from around the country and is focused on making Wisconsin communities destinations for business and talent. A number of local narratives are part of the program, including a session I was invited to moderate about the economic impact of a thriving music scene. Hot on their heels is a rare convening of the UW System Board of Regents, Oct. 6-7. This gathering happens in Eau Claire only once every four years. They’ll be here for the groundbreaking of the Confluence Arts Center, as well as for a series of discussions on the future of Eau Claire and the entire state, including a panel hosted by Chancellor James Schmidt, where I along with a handful of business leaders will discuss some of the critical partnerships between the university and the community, partnerships that have been driving some of Eau Claire’s recent success. And finally, Nov. 3-4, the Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus will be in town for their annual meet-up. Among their many sessions will be talk of the energy building in Eau Claire right now, including a related closing keynote I’m presenting on the power of feedback loops. The local confluence of all these events is no coincidence. People are hearing good things – they’re setting up opportunities to come check it out and to learn from the vibe we’ve created for ourselves. It’s good to share the successes we’re beginning to see here, but it’s even more important to bring in these outsiders for their perspectives and critiques so we can continue to strive for improvement. As a community, we’ve still got a long way to go. There are many people and places we can yet learn from. Let’s hope these three key gatherings not only carry the word about Eau Claire beyond the Chippewa Valley, but also help us to see where we might go next.