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Regional Conference: Success Through Collaboration

  • Buckeye Hills Regional Council 1400 Pike Street (map)

Our very first Regional Conference is being held on Friday, October 4th from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta, OH. This event will bring together community leaders, elected officials, practitioners and more to explore how the power of collaboration has – and will continue to – garner success for southeast Ohio.

From honing hard skills like facilitation and strategic planning to refining best practices in relationship building and community development, this regional conference will equip participants with both the skills and knowledge to work together for the betterment of our region. Speakers will share insight on a variety of topics, including the power of small business, increasing local economic impact, water quality and public health, workforce re-entry and the role of employers, renewable energy, and public art.

Registration is $35 for the general public, which includes all summit materials, sessions, and lunch.

Members of the Buckeye Hills General Policy Council and/or Regional Advisory Council will receive a discounted rate, out of gratitude for their service to our organization. A discount code may be accessed by emailing

Sponsorship opportunities are available! If interested, reach out to

2019 Regional Conference Agenda & Speakers

8:00 - 8:30 a.m.

Registration & Check-in

8:30 - 8:35 a.m.

Welcome & Introduction of Keynote

8:35 - 9:15 a.m.

Opening Keynote: Why Collaboration is Important in Economic Development

Jeff Finkle, CEcD, Presdient/CEO International Economic Development Council

As President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Jeff Finkle is a recognized leader and authority on economic development. With the formation of IEDC in 2001 following the merger of the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) - where he was president for 15 years - and the American Economic Development Council (AEDC), Jeff set the course for a more effective and influential organization. Today IEDC is the world's largest economic development membership organization and is a $5 million annual operation that is renowned for its leadership in professionalizing and diversifying the field of economic development.

Jeff previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has received numerous awards over the years for his commitment to making sustainable economic development a priority in communities of all sizes. Significantly, in 2011 he was lauded by the U.S. Department of Commerce for his 25 years of stewardship over CUED and IEDC. Moreover, as a longtime leader in community service and philanthropy, in 2005 Jeff organized 250 economic development volunteers to work in Gulf Coast communities endeavoring to recover from Hurricane Katrina. In 1989 he also founded the Bollinger Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to children who have lost a parent who worked in the field of economic development.

A frequent lecturer and author of numerous articles, Jeff has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Fox television and the Journal Report on PBS. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications in 1976 from Ohio University in Athens and pursued graduate studies in business administration at Ohio State University. He maintains a strong connection with Ohio University’s Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs.

9:15 - 10:00 a.m.

Setting the Stage: Facilitating Collaborative Working Relationships

Maribeth Saleem-Tanner, McDonough Leadership Center, Marietta College

Successful collaborations are born from the intentional facilitation of working relationships among varied groups, parties, or interests. Summit attendees will kick off the day with an overview on the process of facilitating collaborative working relationships in order to achieve success.

10:15 - 11:00 a.m.

Workforce Re-Entry & the Role of Employers

Shawn Stover, Reentry Coordinator, Ohio Means Jobs - Athens County

Southeast Ohio citizens with criminal records face many obstacles when searching for employment and making a fresh start. Ongoing struggles with substance misuse and poverty, as well as labels like “felon,” hinder their efforts to rebuild their lives. Learn how one community is helping those in reentry, recovery, and poverty to improve their chances of success and to finally be able to say “I have a job” and “Someone believes in me.”

11:05 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Collaboration to Positively Impact Population Health

Angela DeRolf, Perry County Health Department + Team

What began as a priority in one county’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) has led to a $10 million+ investment to improve access to health care in rural Appalachian Ohio. This innovative community-based approach to economic development and population health was conducted as a pilot and has led to documentable economic and population health benefits that can be replicated across Southeast Ohio. Attendees will hear from stakeholders who have been collaborating to improve access to health care for their community.

11:55 a.m. - 12:35 p.m.

Building Communities with Strategic Planning

Jessie Powers, Athens County Planner + Team

One definition of Capacity is the ability or power to do, experience or understand something. In rural communities, community leaders find themselves with the desire to create positive change in the lives of their citizens, however the lack of capacity (staff, funding, etc.) holds them back. Learn how one county is supporting a community challenge process that aims to increase collaboration and open lines of communication within its smaller communities.

12:35- 1:00 p.m.


1:00 - 1:45 p.m.

Demystifying “How” Communities & Small Business Collaborate

Perry Varnadoe, Meigs County Economic Development + Partners

Rural Appalachian Ohio is home to many small communities and towns. These communities are far more diverse and have far greater potential than some believe. Learn how one county’s economic development organizations are helping to support small business start-ups and enable expansions in one of the most economically distressed areas of the state.

1:50 - 2:35 p.m.

SolSmart: Renewable Energy for Sustainable Impact

Mayor Steve Patterson, City of Athens & Sara Conley-Ballew, Rural Action

Is your community interested in being open for solar business? SolSmart recognizes cities, counties, and regional organizations for making it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. ( This session explores how collaboration among community members, public officials, and non-profit organizations has led one community to receive the SolSmart designation. Learn how your community can do the same!

2:40 - 3:25 p.m.

Placemaking & Storytelling

Cristie Thomas, Marietta Main Street & Sarah Arnold, ClutchMOV

By utilizing placemaking strategies that build upon the unique assets of a community, you can empower local citizens to invest in their place and build a stronger local economy. Telling the stories of these efforts will not only celebrate the accomplishments of your community but also allow citizens to see themselves as part of the solution and take pride in the place they call home.

3:25 - 3:30 p.m.

Closing remarks

Rick Hindman, Assistant Executive Director, Buckeye Hills Regional Council

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