ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 16— More than 1,400 people participated in today's Eyes on the Future 2009, an annual economic development summit that promotes collaboration and engagement among businesses, organizations and individuals in the Greater Rochester Region. The third annual event also included a business and career event, EyesExpo, which preceded and followed the general session. 50 companies exhibited at EyesExpo.
The summit highlighted a keynote address by Richard A. Bendis, president and CEO of InnovationAmerica, a public/private partnership leading national initiatives for entrepreneurship and business funding. Bendis emphasized how improving the economy requires a focus on an area's strengths, not its weaknesses.
They keynote highlighted the Greater Rochester Region's significant potential with 19 leading educational institutions, a skilled and talented workforce and a vibrant network of innovative businesses. He also called on business, political and community leaders to connect and work together on supporting entrepreneurial growth to further enable the nine-county area to successfully compete with the rest of the country.
Bendis joined the panel of regional economic development experts, Susan Holliday, president and publisher, Rochester Business Journal, Richard Kaplan, president and CEO, Pictometry International Corp., Dr. Anne Kress, president, Monroe Community College, and Mark S. Peterson, president and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise (GRE).
Workforce alignment was identified as a key priority for the region's economic and business success.
"The top asset we have is our people," said Peterson. "The talented workforce we have in this community truly sets us apart from our competition."
GRE presented its Intellectual Density Quotient (IDQ), which provides a measure of the region's workforce in several areas. IDQ includes the percentage of the population enrolled in college, patents issued per worker, the number of workers trained to excel in a knowledge-based economy and the number of companies ranked among the best places to work in the country. Based on these criteria the nine-country Rochester Region outperforms communities five times its size.
"It's clear today that for the Greater Rochester Region, the Eyes on the Future summit is a resounding call to action," said Thomas C. Ioele, event chair and president and CEO, Employee Relations Associates. "By being here this morning, you've helped to demonstrate that here in the Greater Rochester Region, the spirit of Eyes on the Future lives year-round as a central part of our culture and livelihood."
The summit's panel and EyesExpo dedicated substantial time to encouraging tangible, sustainable action among attendees at the event. 'Sign Me Up,' a community initiative designed to provide a variety of assistance for economic development projects, recruited more than 300 volunteers. Eyes on the Future will also continue its weekly radio program on WHAM-AM 1180, airing every Saturday morning at 10 AM.
To sign up as an Eyes on the Future volunteer, download material from the summit or listen to the weekly radio program visit www.eyesonthefuture.biz.