Message from the President
Bruce Nuzum, NREDA President
Planning for NREDA's Future
Recently, the NREDA Board held a Strategic Planning session to focus on the future of your organization. We had great discussion and I want to thank the NREDA Board for the time they devoted to prepare for and take part in the session. But just as important, I also want to thank all of the NREDA members that took time to answer our Membership Survey. We used your input as the basis to guide our discussion, our plans for NREDA's future direction as well as to validate NREDA's Mission and Vision.
Being a volunteer based organization, we approached our planning effort on a three year timeline knowing that the board would meet to discuss priorities again in two years. We feel this approach helps bring continuity to our efforts and recognizes that some of our plans are ambitious for an organization of our size and take time to implement.
Our broad goals for the future include:
- Increase the awareness of the importance rural economic development and the visibility of USDA.
- Increase the availability and accessibility of training opportunities for members.
- Develop tools and resources for members that share best practices and other useful information.
- Increase partnerships with allied organizations
- Grow membership to 500 and increase member engagement
- Determine the feasibility of adding professional economic development staff
To implement those goals, we have some great things planned and others already underway. Our first step of implementation is a professional rebranding campaign to promote rural development and NREDA. That will be the foundation of new marketing materials, a new NREDA website and the other goals listed.
To help with availability and accessibility to training, we've developed and implemented a scholarship program for members and have regional training workshops underway. Likewise, as we announced at last year's conference, to bring us closer together and be a resource, we have begun using the web-based tool of Basecamp for committee and board meeting communication as well as member information. In fact, we see Basecamp as a strategic communications tool for NREDA and great way for members to stay connected. So if you have not already, I would invite and encourage you to sign up for the Basecamp training program happening later this week.
There are more things in the planning stages that we'll be talking about in the months ahead. However I will close this month's column with a request for your engagement. As a volunteer organization, we need your involvement to implement our plans successfully! So if you're not involved on a committee, I would ask you to please sign up for the committee of your choice. All you have to do is send an email to Lynn Harkin at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will connect you from there. By doing so, you will be ensuring a strong future for NREDA. But I think you'll also find your involvement and the interaction with other NREDA members will be a benefit to you on both a personal and professional level. Isn't that why we all joined NREDA in the first place?
The National Rural Economic Developers Association (NREDA) was formed to promote rural development opportunities through electric and telephone cooperatives. At the time of the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), cooperatives had been a long time advocate of marketing rural locations as a competitive and low cost alternative for business investment. The creation of a national organization, structured to coordinate recruitment resources would provide all members a greater presence to corporate America.
In 1988, a handful of cooperative members responsible for economic development, met in Platte City, MO, to evaluate this idea and its many benefits. In the spring of 1989, NREDA was formally organized, and later that year held the first member meeting in Washington, DC. The next year, Nashville, TN served as the conference city for the first annual meeting, attracting over 300 attendees. From that small beginning, NREDA had matured into a professional organization providing members valuable assistance with their economic development, key account management, community development, infrastructure development, or other rural development programs.
Submitted by NREDA member: Mark Woodson, CED, CKAE
Associated Electric Co-op, Inc., Springfield, MO
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