“Great communities are built first from within,” according to Brent Sanford, Mayor of Watford City, North Dakota.
Sanford, along with President Lyn James of Bowman City Commission, Linda Svihovec, McKenzie County Auditor, Gene Veeder, McKenzie County Job Development Authority, and Gary Greff, Enchanted Highway sculptor from Regent are a few of the speakers at the Red River Regional Council’s (RRRC) first ever Ideas to Actions Summit scheduled for November 4, 2015 at the new Grafton Public School auditorium.
“There is much to be learned about making the most of a community’s spirit of teamwork and can-do attitude,” Dawn Keeley, Executive Director of the RRRC says. “The leadership demonstrated by western North Dakota community leaders who have governed during the largest economic boom in North Dakota history can provide a lesson to all of us striving to build stronger communities.”
Keeley wants to bridge the gap of east versus west when it comes to leadership and the potential of communities to thrive.
“Our economies are more similar than different,” Keeley says. “We both rely on volatile commodity markets and are primarily rural, with mid-size urban centers.”
She also points out that both regions have weathered the extremes of boom and bust economies and continue to work towards greater economic diversity.
Keith Lund, Vice President of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation and RRRC board member, agrees that there is much to learn from the experience of oil boom communities. “Western North Dakota communities have done a tremendous job of planning and collectively focusing on the highest impact strategies to navigate the challenges and opportunities they have faced. Their approach is another North Dakota of example of how greater progress can be made when leaders and communities work together for common goals.”
The potential for the growth of the Unmanned Aerial Systems and tourism industries in eastern ND are examples of industry sectors that are poised to become major economic drivers.
“It takes the kind of teamwork and commitment demonstrated by our western North Dakota colleagues to make these efforts a success,” says Keeley.
The RRRC wants to recognize and reward the leadership and commitment already demonstrated in communities across the Red River region through a new award program sponsored by the Council. Three awards will be presented at the Summit – the North Star Award will go to an idea that illuminates opportunities or creates a guiding light for progress within a community; the Catalyst Award will recognize an individual who acts as a kickstarter for an idea or a project; and the Determination Award will recognize a successful project that created a significant impact on a community. Several nominations for these awards have already been received.
The overall purpose of the Ideas to Actions Summit is to provide an opportunity to inform the public of the goals and activities of the Council and partner organizations, to create excitement about the potential of our region’s communities, and to recognize the excellent work of the region’s communities. The agenda includes a 4:00 pm roundtable discussion with western ND leaders, moderated by Bruce Gjovig of the UND Center for Innovation, followed by a 5:30 pm networking social with music by Sneaky Wild Oats. The keynote event will begin at 6:30 pm and will include the awards presentation. All events will be held at the auditorium at the Grafton Public School complex and are free and open to the public.