Economic Forum

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Oct 16, 2009 10:39 am

A while back Snaggletooth posted a suggestion for someone in a small town to have an Economic Forum. I took his idea and ran with it a few weeks back. The Chamber here is very open to that sort of thing and so we organized an event and piggybacked off of another one talking about certain town projects.



Now, my town is actually larger than a small town. We have over 30,000 residents. But it still thinks of itself as a small town. And all of the people with money are involved in the governance of this town.



I used my veteran status to guilt a Congressman I've worked with in the past into coming. Then I spoke to several of his counterparts staffers and mentioned that this guy was coming. And it built very fast.



All told we had:



1 U.S. Senator

2 U.S. Congressmen

1 Mayor

5 Town Councilmen and women

2 Economics professors (from two competing local Universities)

7 Business owners

135 attendees



and Me.



We had donated BBQ and pizzas (we let them post huge signs). We allocated 2 hours for the forum beginning at 6 p.m.. It lasted until 9:30 p.m.



Each topic was designed to make me sound like I knew what the hell I was talking about, and was sponsored by my firm (picture a huge projected logo). All questions from the audience were pre-screened.



We had this forum at a big non-denominational church who let us use the space for free.



There has been a phenomenal response. In the past few weeks, my firm has processed $9 million in transfers. Not a single account am I the primary advisor on, which for those of you who know me, is awesome.



We have decided to make this an annual event.



My total expenses so far has been $2100 (approximately). The best part, I made no opinions at all and alienated no one.



Thanks snags. Best idea ever. But be assured that I took ALL of the credit here.

Oct 16, 2009 11:09 am

Do you think this can be replicated - or is the current status of the market causing the high demand?

 
Do you think the politicians will play ball again next year?
Oct 16, 2009 11:17 am
Wet_Blanket:

Do you think this can be replicated - or is the current status of the market causing the high demand?



Do you think the politicians will play ball again next year?





Good questions. The response has been huge. And there is a ton of buzz about it. But I think twice a year is too much.



The answer is, I don't know. I know that we may get different politicians. But next year is an election year and if I book them early enough in advance, my guess is they'll be right there. We might have more. Next year might work but the following year...?



The whole, "I'm a disabled veteran trying to help out my community" doesn't work every time. But it might.



Also, our area hasn't been hit hard by the recession in actuality. It has just been perception. The town is extremely affluent (Median income $80k). Home prices declined slightly, but have already picked back up and are selling for more than they were two years ago.



In addition, I used local economic issues (traffic, water, small business concerns) to drive most of the debate. Because health care is such a huge issue, I included health care, bailouts, loans, etc.



You should see the way these guys (dems and republicans) insult each other. The guys on this forum have nothing on them .



I guess the best answer is: we'll see. I certainly hope so. I had a lot of fun.



I think it can replicated elsewhere also, if that is one of your questions.

Oct 16, 2009 2:55 pm

That is awesome.  If I could ask for a little more detail:

 
When you say the "topics were designed to make me look like I knew what I was tlaking about" - what do you mean?
 
How did you advertise and/or generate attendance?
 
What was the structure of the event?  Town Hall?  Open questions?  Pres-scripted qeustions sent in by attendees?
 
How did you avoid big ugly debates on healthcare, taxes, etc.? Or did you?
Oct 16, 2009 3:14 pm
B24:

That is awesome. If I could ask for a little more detail:



When you say the "topics were designed to make me look like I knew what I was tlaking about" - what do you mean?



I shouldn't say topics. I should say questions. The questions I asked were generally of an economic nature and were pre-scripted for the most part (there was some spontaneous Q & A at the end). I had follow up questions prepared for answers that each person might give. Example: "Allen Weiss would like to know why we had a second bailout package. Senator Baucus, you go first." A follow up question would be, "How is the money being spent now?". "What about money that has been paid back? Will it be returned to the tax payers?".





How did you advertise and/or generate attendance?



The chamber sent out an invite to all of the business owners. We posted flyers and signs "1st annual Small Town Economic Forum".



Spoke at Rotary and Lions clubs to generate interest. Kiwanis as well.





What was the structure of the event? Town Hall? Open questions? Pres-scripted qeustions sent in by attendees?



Other than pre-scripted questions and time limits, it was pretty much a free for all. Not all participants were asked the same questions, but I gave opportunities for the politicians to get their points across (no need to alienate anyone).









How did you avoid big ugly debates on healthcare, taxes, etc.? Or did you?





We had the big ugly debates. But they were limited. Nobody got more time than anybody else. With the exception of the business owners. Each business owner received more time.

Oct 16, 2009 3:45 pm

AWESOME!  There are two kinds of people.  Ones that hear a good idea and don't do anything (or in some cases on THIS forum say the idea is stupid), and others that hear a good idea and make it their own and make something happen.

 
Nice work Moraen...that's exactly how I envisioned it!
Oct 16, 2009 3:57 pm

Did you have any way of knowing how many people would show up?  I would be nervous that you have Max Baucus show up and there are 14 people in the crowd and enough food for 300.

Oct 16, 2009 4:16 pm
B24:

Did you have any way of knowing how many people would show up?  I would be nervous that you have Max Baucus show up and there are 14 people in the crowd and enough food for 300.

 
How many clients do you have?  If you can get a good number of them, then you won't look like an idiot no matter how many prospects and other people show up.  Also, anyone in your network could get an invite, or even family. 
 
Come on B24, you're the sociallite of this forum!!!  You should know at least 20 people that you could get there for sure.
Oct 16, 2009 4:47 pm

Yeah, that would likely be the strategy.  I do know a lot of people, so that would not be an issue.  I am just the nervous-nellie, planner-type when it comes to events.  I don't like surprises.  I wouldn't want to have way too much/too little food, I don't know.  I'm a worry-wart.  I definitely like the idea, though.

Oct 17, 2009 9:35 am

People thought it was a "BIG" deal because congressmen, senators and the mayor would be there. We also used the local news channel to promote it.



The news channel is tied to a larger municipal area, but it worked to draw people. Honestly, I thought there would be more there.



It's a lot different than inviting people to a seminar with wholesaler.

Oct 17, 2009 10:48 am

Well done M, I'll be calling you next year to get tips on how you did this.  Although I doubt Jones would approve of me doing it.

Also, were these state level or federal level officials?

Oct 17, 2009 3:45 pm

Volt, Jones would allow it. You just have to present it properly.

Oct 17, 2009 5:19 pm
voltmoie:


Well done M, I'll be calling you next year to get tips on how you did this. Although I doubt Jones would approve of me doing it.Also, were these state level or federal level officials?





Fed. The mayor told me the state reps and senators would likely be offended they weren't invited, but I can always invite them next time.



I'm not sure how you could present it to Jones, but maybe.