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Accelerate! CityVision 2016 

By Ben Brown, NCLM Advocacy Communication Associate

It is safe to say that, in the previous two years, the League’s annual conference has had plenty of energy and focus. In part, that is the result of conferences centered on a strategic visioning process intended to help cities and towns prepare for the future, and specifically to try to position them where municipalities collectively want and need to be by 2030. Look for more of that energy and focus at CityVision 2016: Accelerate! to be held in Raleigh on October 23-25.

“Accelerate” is appropriate label for this year’s annual conference, as the programming shifts to begin looking at how to implement strategies to achieve those goals that grew out of the Vision 2030 strategic visioning process. But the programming is not the only thing that will be new. The format, in several key ways, will utilize a fresh approach as well.

There will be no single keynote speaker for the primary general sessions. Instead, six expert speakers in their fields – many nationally renowned – will provide some big-picture ideas in brief “Town Talks,” either Ted Talk-style discussions or question-and-answer sessions, during general sessions held on Monday. These intro sessions are designed to create a more intimate and casual atmosphere to better connect with the audience. In pairs, after each of those talks, the speakers will separate into concurrent sessions where they will drill down into practical, how-to looks at their various topics.

And the topics? They will be directly related to themes that came from Vision 2030: learning how to demonstrate the value that your hometown provides to its residents through citizen engagement, measuring that value and promoting success stories; responding to demographic and cultural changes, and turning them into an advantage; discovering meaningful ways to bring new business and economic development opportunities to your municipality.

The speakers will include Dan Burden, Director of Innovation and Implementation at Blue Zones, a planning expert whose work focuses on ways that municipalities can respond to demographic and societal changes by making their communities more livable and healthy; Jack Ryan, co-director of the Legal and Liability Risk Management Institute, a practicing attorney and former police captain who specializes in model police policy; Hilary Greenberg, principal of Greenberg Development Services, whose firm works with local governments and business associations involved in commercial redevelopment and revitalization; and Harris Vaughan, partner and co-founder of Eckel & Vaughan, the public relations firm which helped the League develop its Here We Grow campaign promoting municipal
investments that generate economic development.

That change in the speaker and programming format will be accompanied by another big shift: incorporating the Advocacy Goals Conference, which will take place on  Sunday, into the events of the annual conference. Looking to build on the momentum from the 2016 legislative session and Town Hall Day, the Advocacy Goals Conference is where League members vote to determine legislative and regulatory goals and priorities for 2017. “We hope that by creating this two-for-one event, more League members will be able to participate in the goal-setting process and that this will save members money by making a single trip instead of two,” said Executive Director Paul Meyer.

As the weekend begins, the 16th annual NCLM golf tournament will be held Saturday at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, with a reception, dinner and awards to follow. On Sunday, as the Advocacy Goals Conference takes place, the Exhibit Hall will open, and it will have a look that might seem a bit familiar. “League-opoly” will allow attendees to navigate a life-sized game board, collecting League dollars as they visit vendors with the chance to purchase prizes at the Door Prize Center. On Sunday evening, join the City of Raleigh for the Host City Event at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center. There will be music, food and fun, with the performance of the Broadway Musical “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” This highoctane run through Grand Ole Opry country even includes performances with … wait for it … kitchen utensils.

After Monday’s Town Talks and concurrent session comes the President’s Reception, Dinner and Gala, always a great celebration of North Carolina cities and towns. After some good food, the swearing-in of new officers and remarks from outgoing President Lestine Hutchens and incoming President Bob Matheny, the high-energy of Night Shift, a six-piece band that has been performing for more than a decade, will cap off the night.

Tuesday will be all about professional development and affiliate meetings, with a Local Elected Leadership Academy class for elected officials focused on public-private partnerships for revitalization projects. There will also be an ethics training class and other offerings.

Throughout the conference, receptions will take place providing attendees a great opportunity to network. And the programming is all about getting members ready for a future where their cities and towns continue to play key roles in their citizens’ lives. So come, learn, grow, connect, and have a ton of fun. CityVision 2016: Accelerate! awaits.