CEO’s Report: Heartland’s Summer Conference returns

This year’s Summer Conference was one for the record books, and I’m not talking about the high temperatures.

After taking a year off due to COVID-19, we came back this year at a new venue. We tried out the new tent offered by the Best Western Plus Lakeview Hotel in Madison. While those wearing sport coats may have regretted their decision, it went off without a hitch.

I was thoroughly impressed by our line up of speakers. What is maybe most impressive is that all of them volunteered their time to share their expertise and wisdom with us.

Something that struck me was that several of our speakers thanked us. They thanked us for giving them the opportunity to speak. Did I mention we didn’t pay any of them? Shouldn’t we be the ones thanking them?

I think their thanks speaks to the high caliber crowd we entertain. Our customers are top notch. You come ready to listen and willing to learn. You make the speakers feel welcomed and appreciated.

Each speaker brought something valuable to the table. Kecia Beranek and Brooke Rollag are true champions in their communities. Their drive to make their communities better is admirable.

They are promoting the places they call home, the places they love. What better advocates than people living, working, and raising their families there?

Terry Schultz is also a champion for his community. He has made multiple investments in Madison and continues to advocate for growth. He has utilized Heartland programs and promotes them to others.

Ryan Budmayr is a true professional. His marketing insights were tips anyone can use. You don’t have to work in an advertising firm to promote your town.

Finally, Andrew Kramer and Lee Ann Wheeler offered simple and valuable tools we can all easily implement to protect us from cyber attacks and help us know what to do if we are compromised.

Networking proves invaluable

Of course, for many, the best part of the day is the afternoon social activities. The networking involved in a round of golf or boat ride proves invaluable.

We welcomed several legislators to the event as well as staff from our Congressional delegation’s offices. There were several other special guests in attendance including HELP Fund loan recipients, PUC commissioners, lobbyists, economic development professionals and industry partners.

Getting the chance to visit with these folks one on one doesn’t happen often and we are proud we can pull our customers together with these key individuals for some valuable interaction.

Most of the customers Heartland serves are small, rural communities. The same person often wears many hats, as is certainly the case for Kecia and Brooke. While no one can be an expert on every topic, having a network of individuals with expertise in different areas gives you someone to reach out to with questions when you don’t have the answer yourself.

While every community is different, they are also similar. Every community must tackle projects from electrical upgrades to street projects to wastewater and the list goes on. If you are thinking of tackling a project, chances are, another Heartland community has already done it. Events like our Summer Conference give you the chance to visit with those folks and put a name with a face next time you want to reach out.

We hope everyone took something valuable away from the conference. If you weren’t able to attend and have questions about any of the presentations, please let us know.

I look forward to seeing you at our next event.

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