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NORA concludes fourth annual Regional Summit at NSU

Distinguished speakers, breakout sessions and a Legislative Breakfast were features of the Regional Summit, "Region of Choice to Live, Work and Play," on the Northeastern State Campus on Oct. 30-31.

The 2012 summit was organized by the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance (NORA), the Cherokee Nation and NSU.

"The successes of the regional summits have achieve in just four years are impressive," said master of ceremonies Cindy Morrison, who is a social media strategist after working 20 years as an anchor and reporter in the Tulsa TV news market. "You have faced a lot of economic uncertainty during that time, but you have taken on so many challenges – large and small."

The morning welcomes and introductions were given by NSU President Steve Turner, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and the NORA chairman, State Sen. Jim Wilson.

Morning keynote speaker was Maureen Collins-Williams, director of Entrepreneurship Outreach at the University of Northern Iowa, who spoke about "The Next Generation of Entrepreneurial Regions."

"Businesses will create and adjust their models based on technology," she said. "We expect that trend to continue through the next 20 years."

Breakout sessions during the first day sought to educate attendees about the evolving job market of the Internet age, factors enhancing economic development, social issues, poverty and fundraising. Session titles included, "; Matching the Right People With the Right Jobs," "Rural Economic Drivers – the Arts" and "Communities – Putting and End to Generational Poverty."

Turner and Darrell Weaver, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, presented a breakout session, "Safe Communities: Making a Difference in Your Community." They were joined by Shannon Buhl, Cherokee Nation Marshal; Dr. Cari Keller, professor of criminal justice at NSU; and Dr. Mike Wilds, director of the Crime and Justice Institute at NSU.

Turner, whose professional background includes law enforcement experience, said businesses will not locate to communities where the workforce feels unsafe.

Citing the Magna Carta, the U.S. Constitution and the Oklahoma Constitution, Turner said, "Throughout time people have expected safety. Safety is an important element within successful communities, and it does have a significant impact.”

Weaver said drug addiction was one of the most persistent problems affecting the quality of life in northeast Oklahoma and throughout the state.

“We are in a society that is consumed with the concept of addiction," he said. " Addiction rates in Oklahoma are high. Many are difficult to wrap our minds around."

A legislative breakfast was held the morning of Oct. 31, attended by Wilson, State Sen. Roger Ballenger, State Sen. Earl Garrison, State Rep. Mike Brown, State Rep. Will Fourkiller, Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskins Jr. and Cherokee Nation Treasurer Lacey Horn.

The breakfast was followed by speakers discussing methods to finance regional, community and business plans. Speaking were Jay Hannah, executive vice president of financial services for BancFirst; Rhonda Clemons-Hill, executive director for NORA and the Zoe Institute; Michael Davis of the Oklahoma Finance Authorities; Kent Stroman, certified fundraising executive and president of Stroman Consulting; Ronnie Jones, specialist with USDA Rural Development – Muskogee area; and Bruce Johnson, increment financer. Topics included faith-based grant-funding, conventional grant-funding, federal small business financing, crowd funding, charitable funding, federal rural development and enhancing local tax revenue.

During the networking reception at the close of the day, Morrison announced the winners of the NORA Regional Collaboration Awards, which were given to cooperative organizations working to enhance the quality of life in northeast Oklahoma.

The list of winners:

  • BancFirst Emerging Collaboration Award: Sallisaw Business Incubator – an alliance of Indian Capital Technology Center, Sallisaw Improvement Corporation and the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce.
  • Successful Collaboration Award: Eastern Oklahoma District Library System – an extensive alliance of libraries, schools, community organizations, county extension offices, day care centers and local businesses.
  • NSU Innovative Collaboration Award: Medicare Part D Diabetes – an alliance of Grand Gateway, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Oklahoma Insurance Department's Senior Health Insurance Counseling Program, Wyandotte Nation, Ottawa, Quapaw, Eastern Shawnee and Oklahoma Lions Club.
  • Google Community Champion Award: Rivercross Hospice.
  • Cherokee Nation Businesses Crossing Borders Collaboration Award: Muskogee Area Educational Consortium – an alliance of Muskogee, Hilldale, Fort Gibson, Warner, Haskell and Braggs public schools, the Oklahoma School for the Blind, Indian Capital Technology Center, Connors State College, Bacone College, Northeastern State University, Greater Muskogee Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Workforce Investment Board, Oklahoma Schools Advisory Council, Muskogee City-County Port Authority and state and local officials.

Sponsors included NSU, Cherokee Nation Businesses, the Grand River Dam Authority, Google, Sodexo, Indian Capital Technology Center, Northeast Technology Center, BancFirst, Ozarks Electric and theTouchstone Energy Cooperative, Rogers State University, Pryor Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, the USDA, McDonald's and Public Service Company of Oklahoma.

Learn more about the Regional Summit.

Published: 11/7/2012 3:34:06 PM

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