Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Impact 2007

Impact 2007 Breakout session
Bhushan Kulkarni and Andy LaBarre listen
while Trenda Rusher leads our discussion
I spent the first part of my day today at the Impact 2007 conference put on by the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce. This is a meeting of minds of those who are interested and concerned about the state of Michigan in general and about the Ann Arbor area in specific. This is the second year I've attended the event. Last year I was there because it is also the kick off for the Leadership Ann Arbor class.

First off, Impact is just a great networking event in a great venue. A lot of local business people show up to hear what's going on and Kensington Court does a great job making sure everyone is comfortable and well-fed. Beyond that, though, as with last year, the organizing committee sets up some interesting speakers. Of course, Michigan is going through some hard times right now, so not all of the news was positive. Still, we all tried to look for the best and, further, tried to look for ways that we could help to solve some of the area's problems.

To that end, this year we broke out into several groups to examine some of the bigger issues going on right now. The group I was with looked at the "Talent Wars" -- the fact that many of our most talented workers are leaving the state -- and what we can do to turn that tide. We had about forty of us in the room, so we actually came up with many actions which might help in a variety of areas, including attracting and retaining talent, developing career paths which keep talent in the area, and developing leadership to oversee all of this activity.

Of all the solutions, though, the biggest one -- and the biggest challenge -- was communication. Many of the root problems we uncovered already have solutions in place. Unfortunately, the population whom we need to address regarding the problem seems not to know about the solution, whatever it is.

I'm not sure there is a silver bullet for this one. I'd love to say that all we need to do is build a great website, but there are already a ton of websites out there with this information. What it may require is actual personal coordination between industry, education, and community organizations and I'm not sure what the mechanism is to make that all work.

Ah, well, I guess the first step to wisdom is admitting you don't know.

So, what forms of community communication do you have in your area?

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