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Leaders gather for synergy

John Monson

The 2010 Synergy Conference invites regional, business and higher education leaders to gather for an event aimed at building a stronger economic region and workforce, promoting entrepreneurship and connecting businesses.

The gathering occurs 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Plaza Conference Center, 1202 W. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire.

Keynote speakers at the conference offer global and regional economic perspectives.

Bill Rubin of the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation will attend and says he knows of several locals also going, including his counterpart in Pierce County, Bill Warner, as well as River Falls Chamber Director Rosanne Bump.

When asked who in the area "should" attend, Rubin says business owners, educators, Main Street merchants and others who want to identify key issues in the region and compete in an increasingly more global market.

He's been to the conference before and said he's seen attendance reach about 100 people. Rubin said with competitors not just down the street but all over the world, the conference may help businesses get and keep an edge.

Richard Longworth, a senior fellow of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, will discuss what businesses can do to survive in the Midwest's uncertain social, economic and political climates. He was a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee for his reporting on economics, and authored the book, "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism."

John Monson, who is vice president of rural capital markets for AgStar Financial Services will talk about the ways in which public and private sectors can collaborate to foster economic development. Monson is also a former director of the federal Farm Service Agency in Minnesota.

Other speakers will address related topics throughout the day:

--John Maliyakal of WiSyS Technology Foundation will talk about giving life to new business ideas through collaborative innovation.

--Noel Eggebraaten, president of Momentum West, will give an update on how that regional, economic development organization represents Barron, Clark, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pierce, Pepin, Polk, Rusk and St. Croix counties and works to market and brand west-central Wisconsin.

--UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorenson and UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich will introduce conference attendees to the UW Research-to-Jobs initiative.

--Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UW-La Crosse Kathleen Enz Finken will give an overview of the UW systems' entrepreneurial initiatives, and Sorenson will give one on emerging technology centers.

--Director of the Wisconsin Angel Network Joe Kremer will talk about funding and promoting entrepreneurship throughout the region and state.

Conference attendees will also learn from a partnership-project showcase in the afternoon, at which several examples will be presented and discussed. Next comes a wrap-up panel discussion with business and higher education leaders, as well as a social function afterward called Taste of the Region.

Conference Manager Mindy Means said attendees may sign up until and the day of the event. Registration costs $125 and can be done through the conference website:

or 715-232-5270