Secret from 029: Economic Development Leadership Trips

This month’s special guest Gail Bulfin, Vice President of Membership Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, shares with listeners information about their very successful leadership trips.

We embarked on a leadership trip two years ago but the process began before that – it began about three years ago. We, as an organization, were considering ways we could continue to learn about other best practices around the country, as well as engage our members, and by doing that, grow our own community. It was a very democratic process. We identified a handful of our members and we spent several months studying other communities in the country and that involved doing reports, pulling information and then presenting it to our little steering community. Each group had a community they were pitching and at the end we voted on which place we thought was the one that we could learn the most from. It turned out to be Austin.

We had about 50 people attend. We flew in on a Saturday, half the group on Saturday, half the group on Sunday. And we were there until Wednesday. We were very busy studying five different aspects of Austin life that we felt we could learn from. It was a tremendous experience. We matched up with Austin in a couple of areas. Austin was different from us in other areas but overall we thought that the growing tech community in Austin, the kind of cool factor Austin has, the work with South by Southwest, some of the challenges that Austin had were similar to some of our challenges. And while we were not the state capital we still thought this was a place that was a great starting point for us. It turned out to be a tremendous learning experience and also networking experience for us as a community. We came back full of great ideas, so much so that we decided this is something we want to do every other year.

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