ROCKFORD, June 1 — More than 100 people turned out at the Nordlof Center to hear a Transform Rockford Community Conversation about how regionalism can lead the way to becoming a Top 25 community.
Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., is a nationally recognized leader for this approach in a city that rallied from poorly ranked 30 years ago to highly desired today. Clark shared some of the key elements of regional success:
1. A big tent, because “good ideas come from anywhere.”
2. A vision for your region as well as the vision of how others see you.
3. A code of ethics for regional partners that “sells the region first, our communities second” and that outlines open, respectful communication.
4. A way to build infrastructure during downturns. Companies don’t watch where you are; they watch where you’re going. “You can have a really crappy place, but if you’re doing something about it, people know you’re thinking.”
5. Political support from and for local elected officials.
6. A “leadership development plan” that engages new young leaders in their 20s, 30s and 40s into the civic fabric.
7. A “servant leader” organization that courageously touts collaboration and measures its successes. “Sometimes you have to be the guardian at the gate of regionalism.”
8. A commitment to making downtown “a vibrant urban center.”
Metro Denver is the nation’s first regional economic development entity, bringing together over 70 cities, counties and economic development agencies in a nine-county area.
What are the results of such large-scale cooperation in Denver?
• One of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the nation (Forbes, 2015).
Even though “everyone gets their say, but not everyone gets their way,” regionalism is a transformational model for success.
Watch for the June 1 Community Conversation video here.