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Speaking Out: Join me at CityVision 2016 

by League President and Elkin Mayor Lestine Hutchens

If you’ve attended the League’s annual conference in either or both of the last two years, you’ve certainly seen the change in energy and focus. If you haven’t attended lately, well then, you should. This year’s event, CityVision 2016, will be held in Raleigh on Oct. 23-25.

The League’s staff has looked to bring more cohesive themes to the annual conference, a shift that has accompanied the League’s Vision 2030 strategic planning process. That the two things have coincided shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ultimately, the goal of Vision 2030 is to help cities and towns from across North Carolina meet the challenges of the future, and to do so in concrete ways.

At last year’s conference, those attending heard NCLM Board of Directors members Jody McLeod and Jennifer Robinson discuss how the organization had moved through the process and where it intends to go. By establishing operating principles of where municipalities wish to be by 2030, the next step was to create planning pillars for what the League as an organization needs to do to help all of our towns and cities get there.

This year, the conference will make more of that concrete by having real practitioners discuss how to get there, while tying together programming around the themes of those operating principles – including municipalities demonstrating the value they add to resident’s quality of life and utilizing technology to engage citizens, enjoying productive partnerships with other governments and the private sector, and exercising more control over revenues and other functions.

There is also another change this year. In an effort to bring greater value to members, the Advocacy Goals Conference will be held in conjunction with the annual conference. By holding the two together, we are hoping for more participation. That participation is crucial.

The policy process involves over 150 people who make up the policy committees, and every member city and town also has the ability to submit goal proposals. Still, it is important to have as many members as possible weighing in on those proposed goals as they become our set legislative and regulatory goals for the next two years. That grassroots involvement allows for a united front and tells state policymakers that these are the collective goals of all cities and towns, big and small, urban and rural.

Of course, I have also enjoyed the electricity of annual conference the last few years, with high energy bands closing the President’s Banquet and Inaugural Gala and last year’s host city showing of The Glory of Gospel by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company.

So, let’s keep on building on the face of the League’s new annual conference. It’s about focusing on positive action. It’s about learning and networking. And it’s about sharing.

Over the years, I often found that the elected officials from other towns could help me solve a problem, and we didn’t have re-create the whole process. We could build on other town’s successes.

Join me at CityVision 2016, and let’s keep working and learning to make things better for our residents.