By Tim Leeds
GREAT FALLS Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is hosting an Economic Development Summit at the University of Great Falls (UGF) on Sunday and Monday, June 25-26.
While the registration deadline was originally June 1, representatives in Baucus's office said they will accept registrations through Saturday, June 10.
An impressive list of speakers at the summit includes Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers; Robert Rubin, former treasury secretary and current director and chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup; John Connors, chief financial officer of Microsoft, and Robert Krebs, chairman/chief executive officer of Burlington Northern-Santa Fe.
"It should be a great two days," said Craig Erickson. "I expect some really lively discussion."
Erickson, planner at Bear Paw Development Corporation North Montana and a member of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said that this is a guest list that only a U.S. senator could put together, in his opinion. He said they'd like to see as many people there as possible, at least to support Baucus. He said it's not very often such heavy hitters come together to speak in Montana.
"When Senator Baucus brings in people like the CEO of Microsoft, at the very least there should be a roomful of people to hear what he has to say," Erickson said.
He said that Baucus sees a need in this state to get everyone talking and working on the issues. He said economic development had kind of been put on the back burner in the state, but it's becoming a hot topic.
Debbie Vandeberg, general manager of the Havre area chamber, said they want to get a message across to people that everybody has to participate in economic development. She said it's everyone's obligation, duty to participate in this project.
The summit will address issues such as technology, infrastructure, workforce development, marketing and business development. An attempt will be made to review past achievements, evaluate the success of past state and national economic development efforts, and generate a strategy of action for Montana's 21st Century economy.
Breakout groups will be used throughout the summit to involve as many people attending the conference as possible. Findings from the breakout discussions will be compiled for use as a resource fro economic development activities by Montana communities and businesses with local, state and federal partners.
Registration and a barbecue at the summit begin at 10 a.m. on June 25. After welcoming remarks by UGF President Fred Gilliard and Sen. Baucus, Rubin will give the keynote speaker address at 1 p.m. There will be a High-Tech roundtable from 1:30-2:30 p.m. followed by breakout groups with a variety of topics.
Tom Gardner, co-chairman of The Motley Fool, will give the keynote address at 9 a.m. on June 26, followed by more breakout groups and a marketing roundtable at 2 p.m.
All participants must register for the summit, although there is no fee for attending. Registration forms must be mailed or faxed to : Montana Economic Development Summit, 18 Fifth St. S., Great Falls, MT 59501; fax: (406) 727-3726; phone (toll-free) 1-800- 332-6106.
An electronic registration form is available at the summit website at http://www.montanajobs.org.