Responding to your input - adding value to your membership!

By Bruce Nuzum, 2018 NREDA President

A big thank you to all NREDA members who participated in our biennial Membership Survey! Not only do the board, staff and I appreciate the time you took to offer your input, we use your comments to guide our programming and events so we can bring value back to you. This year's survey results reinforced the value that members place on networking opportunities, the annual conference and other educational opportunities to gather and learn best practices for each other. All great information that the board took into account at our strategic planning session which I''ll talk about in a later column.
I am especially appreciative of the comments and suggestions to our opened questions. The input showed an definite interest from the membership related to more opportunities to interact and learn from each other either through online communication and/or regional meetings. Many members indicated they are new to economic development and looking for programs and tools that they can implement in their communities and areas. Likewise, may stressed the importance of this programming being offered as affordably as possible.

Please know, NREDA committees were already hard at work on many of those fronts. We strive to offer value as affordably as possible. But also know we are adjusting programming specifically in response to these comments. We've adjusted the agenda of our upcoming NREDA Conference to include sessions on best practices and success stories as well as more opportunity to interact with each other. Planning is also underway for an "economic development 101" pre-conference session for those new to the business and/or organizations that are just beginning their economic development efforts. As discussed at last year's Annual Conference, the Professional Development committee had plans for regional workshops on lending and revolving loan funds. These first workshops will be held later this spring at member requested locations in South Dakota and Indiana.

Being a national organization of volunteers, we know we need technology based platforms to improve communication and reach as many members as possible. To that end, I want you to know that we're working hard on a new website. Our goal is that it will be more interactive and a resource for you on a variety of economic development subjects. We hope to launch the new website before we gather for our next conference. Further, to be more efficient, the board and committees have started using a web-based program called Basecamp. Combined with go-to-meeting, we hope this new approach will make information more accessible, streamline our volunteer efforts and make committee meetings more informative and interactive. Once we've trained ourselves, we plan to roll this out to the membership as our primary communications platform. All of these efforts and others are being undertaken to add value to your membership and better serve you as members.

What would make all of these efforts more effective? Your involvement! If you're not already, I'd invite you to get involved on an NREDA committee. Have an economic development topic you want to see explored at the conference? No better way to make encourage the topic than to help plan the event! Is there a program or a tool that you want to implement in your community but don't know how? Join the Professional Development Committee and help design the educational session and/or invite it to your area! Have a success story to share and celebrate? Bring your story and join the Communications Committee! There's no better way to have input and add value to NREDA than being involved!