Money, Finances Focus of MMA Convention

(from Maine Townsman, June 2010)
By Eric Conrad, Director of Communication & Educational Services, MMA

Money and the economy supersede other issues in Maine, and in the nation, these days. They will be major components of the 2010 Maine Municipal Association Convention as well.

After several months of receiving suggestions and input about the Oct. 12-13 convention, the program is being put together. The event is shaping up to have broad appeal – training that will help elected officials, town and city managers and municipal employees at all levels. Several changes are being made from last year’s successful convention. Some new offerings that worked well last year are being retained and improved.

Here are some highlights:

• The keynote speaker will be Travis Roy. Many of you probably know Travis’ story. The standout hockey player at North Travis RoyYarmouth Academy attained his dream of playing Division I college hockey. During his first minute on the ice for the Boston University Terriers, Roy suffered a devastating injury that left him paralyzed. By no means has that kept him down.

Roy has gone on to be a television commentator, author of a best-selling book and an inspirational speaker. The theme of the 2010 convention is “Embracing Challenges & Change.” Who better to talk about that than Roy, a true Maine hero?

• There will be an emphasis on the economy, financial management and guarding the public purse. The MMA staff is working with the National League of Cities – as it did last year – to recruit speakers than can offer national context to the economic and financial issues facing Maine.

Specific speakers from Maine and elsewhere still are being lined up but at least two, double-length sessions are planned on these topics. The aim is to provide valuable information and hands-on training that will help selectmen in our smallest municipalities and councilors and mayors in our biggest cities make good financial decisions during trying economic times.

• Timely and specific issues also will be explored. The MMA plans to have workshops and roundtables which will include Maine Department of Transportation’s Highway Simplification Study and the statewide Building Code.

• One thing we know for sure about 2011 is that Maine will have a new governor for the first time in eight years. A forum is planned on the morning of Oct. 13th for the candidates who emerged from the crowded June 8 primary election.

• Among the other topics to be covered at more than 20 workshops and presentations: downtown revitalization; ethics training; management skills for the 21st Century; disaster preparedness and response; human resources issues in the technology age; and, many more.

The convention, once again, will be held at the Augusta Civic Center. Recently, a Working Group of MMA members and staff convened in Augusta to consider moving the convention around the state. The two-hour meeting offered frank discussion about the civic center and past MMA conventions. Several attendees said it was among the most open and informative meetings they’ve attended.

The bottom line is that, with upward of 120 exhibitors and 1,100 attendees of both days, only a few facilities in Maine can handle an event like the MMA convention. The Augusta Civic Center can do so, under one roof, with easy highway access and free, ample parking.

This year, the nearby MMA headquarters will be part of the convention program. Tours of the MMA’s new conference center will be offered on both days of event. The 70-member Legislative Policy Committee, which guides the MMA on legislative issues and priorities, will meet in the MMA conference center on the afternoon of Oct. 13.

Another outgrowth of that Convention Working Group’s efforts was that the MMA has made tentative plans to rotate the annual Tech Conference around the state. Working with its co-sponsor, the Maine GIS User Group, the MMA is looking to hold the 2011 Tech Conference in Bangor next March. Watch for details on that in the months ahead.

For now, please mark your calendars for Oct. 12-13. The 2010 MMA Convention looks to offer timely and valuable training, for elected officials and municipal leaders at all levels.

REGISTRATION NEXT MONTH

Look for the registration form and complete details of the 2010 MMA Convention in the July edition of the Maine Townsman.

Nearby Hotels
Be sure to reserve early and ask for the “government rate”.

Holiday Inn Community Drive 622-4751
Comfort Inn Civic Center Drive 623-1000
Fairfield Inn & Suites Anthony Avenue 623-2200
EconoLodge Western Avenue 622-6371
The Senator Western Avenue 622-5804
Quality Inn & Suites Whitten Road 622-3776

The Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn and Fairfield Inn are off the Civic Center exit of 1-95. The remaining hotels are accessed from Exit 109, which is just one exit south from the Augusta Civic Center. Room availability may be limited.