Economic development expert to speak at conference
WORTHINGTON -- A nationally recognized speaker on rural economic development will address attendees of next week's Regional Bioscience Conference.
Jack Schultz, founder and CEO of Agracel Inc. and author of the book "Boom Town USA: The 7½ Keys to Big Success in Small Towns," will speak from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to noon April 8 during the conference's second day.
The two-day Regional Bioscience Conference, hosted by Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. and sponsored by Southwest Initiative Foundation, will take place at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus.
Schultz, who also heads the Boomtown Institute in Effingham, Ill., has spoken to more than 400 communities in 44 U.S. states over the years.
This will be his first speaking engagement in Worthington.
"I've been to Worthington in the past, several years ago, and I've been in that part of Minnesota a number of times," Schultz said by telephone Tuesday. "I think it's important to leverage resources that may be available in the biosciences ... and I take more of a regional approach.
"As we look to where companies want to locate or where scientists want to do research, they don't care about city lines, county lines or state lines. It's about taking more of a regional approach, rather than just one community. It's not what I call rocket science; it's just doing the right things and taking the right steps forward."
Schultz's book, published in 2004, followed a research project of more than three years that included visits to 15,800 small towns across the country.
His expertise on how to revitalize communities has been featured in USA Today, Forbes and Business Week.
Perhaps most important to a small community's success is a strong, fighting spirit.
"The community has to adopt a can-do attitude," Schultz said. "There are many examples of communities like these that have done some pretty extraordinary things. Another is to encourage an entrepreneurial approach. ... That fits in well with the bioscience area, rather than trying to recruit the next big company.
"Another one is to leverage your resources," Schultz added. "For Worthington, it's about leveraging its agricultural and natural resources. We'll spend quite a bit of time on that."
Darlene Macklin, executive director of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, is hopeful Schultz's message will be heard by many at the Regional Bioscience Conference, which is taking place for the seventh year.
"This is a great opportunity for more of the general public to support this conference," Macklin said. "The Bioscience Conference is one of the largest events in the region that directly markets and promotes economic development. The conference hosts 20 to 25 high-level speakers and draws in well more than 100 individuals representing companies that are either looking to expand, relocate or start a business."
The conference commences at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and includes topical sessions throughout the day as well as industry tours. An evening reception will be at Memorial Auditorium and Performing Arts Center.
On Friday, both Schultz and G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill and Co., a merchant bank based in San Francisco, Calif., will speak, and two additional presentations are scheduled. Projects completed by the Worthington Middle School Science Club will also be on display.
All sessions of the Bioscience Conference are open to the public. For a complete schedule and to register, visit www.wgtn.net and click on the Bioscience logo.