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Thinking Regionally: The Value of E-Community Retreats

By: Ciara Thyfault

E-Community Regional Retreat_June 2018

Ciara here for my second-ever blog! In late June, I wrapped up my second Central Region E-Community Retreat and it was a big success! What is a retreat and why would I put one together you ask? Let me tell you…In my daily work I work closely with many of my E-Community point people across the Central Region of Kansas. I manage 18 E-Communities. A majority of these point people are economic development and chamber directors in their local communities. I hosted these two retreats in an effort to gather these smart, innovative people with good ideas in one room to collaborate and start to think more regionally. In addition, there have been some upgrades/changes to the E-Community program (we’re calling E-Community 2.0) and it has always been an intent of ours to be communicative and transparent and review the changes with the E-Communities and filter questions in person.

The main goal of the E-Community program is to have a two-way partnership with these communities so we bounce ideas off each other just as we pass around cool ideas across the state within the E-Community network. Just like any event we host, we survey the participants at the end to ensure we’ve met our purpose and/or learn how to make these events better in the future. Resoundingly, the participants at both of my retreats seem to really value the networking piece!

A special shout out to the El Dorado Chamber and E-Community for arranging the use of the new BG Products Stadium for our meeting. It was a beautiful venue. The room was perfect and the catered lunch was outstanding but, I have to say, the ginormous cookies from Pear Tree Catering may have been what sealed the deal!

Our retreats have further demonstrated how the E-Community program is an elite program and the most engaged E-Communities have point people who really care and are plugged into statewide resources. When you gather the passionate, smart people — like our E-Community point people in one room — you can’t stop the conversations even if you tried! In the future I hope to organize these annually and continue to have these regional conversations and idea sharing. I’ll leave you with a quote from Stacy Clark, the Economic Development Director for Rice County, who always reminds me: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”