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Spring Conference Sets Attendance High in 2015

June 10, 2015

By Jupe Hale, Conference Planning Committee

There’s something about the tradition of heading to GrandView Lodge in early May for the APWA-MN Spring Conference. This year, over 180 members and speakers took part, making it the largest attendance in the history of the event. Those that made the trek were treated to beautiful weather, an enhanced program for professional development, and the opportunity to develop and strengthen a network that will support them in their public works careers for years to come. Indeed, this year’s retreat had a lot to offer.

Prior to the start of the conference, the Membership Committee held a networking event at the Pines Golf Course. Eighteen foursomes took to the links and enjoyed a nice spring afternoon, connecting with other professionals in the great outdoors of the Brainerd Lakes area.

Wednesday evening, after opening greetings from Chapter President Sue Mason, APWA National President Larry Stevens, and APWA Regional Director Chuck Williams, Jacqueline Byrd kicked off the development side of the conference with an interactive presentation on strategies to foster innovation. Many concepts, questions, and activities were presented that challenged management to assess whether their policies encourage or discourage innovative problem-solving on their teams.

Thursday morning, the Emerging Advantage duo of Judy Anderson and Terese Corey Blanck led us in a 3-hour workshop on Generation Y talent in the workforce. In February at the CEAM Conference, these speakers gave an intriguing overview of this topic. This time around, the audience’s interest in the topic was more thoroughly explored, leading to an enhanced understanding of the lifestyle choices and motivations of Gen Y employees. More importantly, attendees were able to ask specific questions on scenarios and policies, and glean insights as to how to structure teams and career paths that capture the strengths of this generation and enhance retention.

Midday Thursday was filled with annual legislative and transportation updates (we are so lucky to count on Anne Finn and Margaret Donahoe every year to keep us informed), and another yearly favorite: the APWA Leadership Academy Graduation ceremony. Following lunch, we were enlightened by speakers from the Interagency Climate Adaptation Team (ICAT) -- a group that brings together multiple agencies in order to deal with significant and extreme weather events in Minnesota. Their ability to combine the expertise and resources of several agencies, and to be a resource to assist local government in times of need, was educational and informative as preparation for when another extreme weather event hits home.

Friday was also content-strong. We opened with Louis Jambois, director of the St. Paul Port Authority. The SPPA has taken a strong role in industrial land use development, and has found success in attractive developments that defy stereotypical thinking on industrial appearance, while at the same time creating local jobs by the hundreds for the community. Many good lessons and concepts came through. That was followed by an update from MnDOT maintenance -- a topic that resonates with their local government partners with “boots on the ground.” Finally, we closed with an excellent presentation by local radio and TV personality Mike Max, who brought us a discussion of life success and how to achieve it. His message reached us on many levels, not just in our professional careers.

It was another successful event in Nisswa. Whether you had an appetite for education, for network development, or for fun (or better yet for all three at the same time!), you didn’t leave disappointed. A big thanks to all who attended, and to the multiple volunteer committees within APWA that made this happen. All of you are why our chapter is great!  See you next year on the shores of Gull Lake!

Download presentations from the Spring Conference here

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