This week, Next Century Cities hosted and participated in several panels at Broadband Communities Magazine’s economic development conference, “Fiber for the New Economy” in Minneapolis, MN. This included a main stage panel of Next Century Cities mayors and officials, as well as a kickoff “experts” panel, both moderated by Executive Director Deb Socia. Deb also participated as a panelist discussing effective messaging during the CLIC Day pre-conference session.

“Across the country, communities recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, engage citizens in their democracy, and connect residents to new opportunities,” remarked Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia. “It is essential for field experts and community leaders to come together at events like the Broadband Communities event in Minneapolis to discuss the issues communities face when implementing broadband access projects and how to achieve success.”

A panel hosted today by Next Century Cities — The Importance of Political Leadership — brought together mayors and elected officials from around the region to discuss proven ways to ensure community support for broadband infrastructure projects. The distinguished list of panelists included Mayor Don Boeder of Gaylord, MN, Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen of Champaign, IL, Council Vice President Brian Housh of Yellow Springs, OH, and City Administrator Jeff O’Neil of Monticello, MN. The panelists discussed their communities’ experiences and lessons learned when driving their own broadband projects, and offered valuable local leader insight for conference attendees. The panel was featured in an article and video by ABC News.

Executive Director Deb Socia with Council Vice President Brian Housh, Mayor Don Boeder, City Administrator Jeff O’Neil, and Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen.

In addition to the Mayors Panel, Deb Socia also moderated a Meet the Experts panel, featuring community broadband and fiber industry experts who discussed important new developments and provided an overview of the key goals and content of the economic development and community toolkit tracks during the kickoff morning of the conference on Wednesday. The panel, which included Chris Mitchell, Policy Director at Next Century Cities, as well as Heather Gold, President of Fiber to the Home Council, and Jim Baller, Senior Principal at Baller Stokes & Lide, answered questions from the audience on community broadband, public-private partnerships, and developing fiber networks for economic development.

On Tuesday, Deb Socia also participated in a panel entitled Crash Course on Effective Messaging for Technology Issues, hosted by the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) as a part of their CLIC Day. The session, moderated by Executive Director of the Benton Foundation, Adrianne Furniss, included communications professionals and practitioners like Deb. The panelists discussed messaging on issues around local internet choice that reached the right audiences and how best to answer opposition arguments. Deb reiterated many of the messaging lessons learned by the more than 150 mayors in Next Century Cities who strongly advocate for local internet choice in their communities.

For more information on these and other panels at Broadband Communities Magazine’s “Fiber for the New Economy” conference, visit the event page here: http://www.bbcmag.com/minneapolis/index.html.