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2016 Industrial Executives Forum: What is an Unconference?

posted on April 26, 2016

The 2016 Industrial Executives Forum will take place on Thursday, May 12th at Highland Lake Inn’s Grand Ole Hall and is free to all HCPED members and Henderson County manufacturers. Event registration will begin at 7:30am with the program beginning at 8:00am and concluding at 12noon. RSVP at rsvp@hcped.org by May 5th.

What’s the basic idea? Just like any Industrial Executives Forum, we will gather industry, business and local leaders – everyone involved in economic development in Henderson County into one place. While we are proud of our history of success as an organization, we fully expect our work to get harder going forward with challenges with sites and buildings, workforce, infrastructure and diversifying employment sectors. The Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development wants to identify new ideas about where we go from here.  As always, this will be a great opportunity to connect and network with your peers and neighbors in the process. We will not solve all challenges. But we will gain an understanding of what the challenges are, and we may see work groups and strategies forming around the most important challenges. Groups like the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council have used the unconference process to find and cultivate new ideas in a collaborative setting.

Why “unconference”? This is an unconference, which means that there is no specific schedule of speakers. You are the speakers, you are the contributors. Unconferences are designed to be participator-led, interactive and collaborative. So the more you bring in, the more you (and others) are likely to take away. The day is about learning from and collaborating with other leaders from industry, business and the local community to explore new avenues to support economic development in Henderson County.

That means the detailed agenda is dynamically generated at the start of the conference, by the participants themselves.  Groups form and self-organize around specific topics based on your interest, and your desire to solve emerging problems to help sustain our economy and quality of  life. The only rule is the Law of 2 Feet: If you aren’t learning or contributing where you stand now, use your 2 feet and go somewhere where you can learn or contribute.

Does this really work? Yes, if well facilitated. Unconference and Open Space are well established concepts. There will be two professional facilitators making sure the event is beneficial for everyone involved. How do we capture ideas? Each session has a host (a person who offers to run the session). We will provide a way to document areas of concern, and potential collaborations as well as new ideas for consideration from each group. At the end of the day we will gather everyone and ask each session host to summarize the key outcomes from their session, including key actions.

Agenda: 7:30-8:00 Registration 8:00-8:35 Welcome 8:35-9:00 Explanation of open space, gather ideas and post schedule 9:00-9:45 Open Space Session 1 10:00- 10:45 Open Space Session 2 10:45-11:30 Open Space Session 3 11:30-12:00 Closing circle. Any ideas or collaborations? What are the major outcomes from the day?

Theme of the day: What will best serve Henderson County’s economic development future? What will support sustainable job creation, business opportunity and quality of life for our county?  How can business, government and civic society best collaborate to solve emerging and standing challenges.

To RSVP for the 2016 Industrial Executives Forum, please e-mail rsvp@hcped.org.

This program series is brought to attendees at no cost thanks to support from HCPED Patron Members: Asheville Savings Bank, Blue Ridge Community College, Continental, Cooper Construction Company, Duke Energy, Ferncliff Park, First Citizens Bank, Friday Staffing Services, GE Lighting Solutions, IMOCO, Lassonde Pappas, Morrow Insurance, PSNC Energy, SMARTRAC and the Van Winkle Law Firm, and supporting sponsors AT&T and Carolina Specialties Construction.

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