So much for the easy part, if you can call convening more than 300 people from the private sector with a few weeks notice on a Friday and Saturday the week of Labor Day easy.
The event was Make It Happen RI, a gathering called by The Rhode Island Foundation to produce ideas that can be turned into action steps in the next few months that will make a difference in the moribund Rhode Island economy.
Organized around nine themes – Attacking Unemployment, Marketing Rhode Island, Support and Growth for Existing Businesses, Business Environment, Closing Skills Gaps, Startups: Helping Entrepreneurs Thrive, Quality of Place, Leveraging/Maximizing Sites, High Potential/High Impact Sectors – Make It Happen RI elicited scores of ideas, some nearly fully formed, others just a wisp of a concept. The foundation will be spending weeks sorting through the notes taken during the many breakout sessions, as well as following up with participants who started forming initiatives thanks to the sessions. It promises to post what was gathered and help facilitate the next steps. So far, so good. But now the hard work starts.
For any of the ideas generated to make it to reality and this effort to be more than just another exercise in wishful thinking that leaves the community even more frustrated than before, individuals and institutions must engage themselves in ways never before seen, committing both time and resources to make things happen.
Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg put it best when he said, “We all want to be here in a year and have an event called ‘Made It Happen’.”
Editor’s note: PBN Editor Mark S. Murphy participated in the Make It Happen RI sessions. •