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  • Darren Coffey, CEO, AICP

Transformation Through Relationships


The theme of this year’s VML conference was “Transformation Through Education” and there were certainly many educational forums and sessions. One session that I attended was the Town Sections meeting where Farmville’s Town Manager, Gerry Spates, gave an overview of the town’s many accomplishments, programs, and facilities. There were many questions and much post-session buzz about how well the town seemed to leverage its budget to accomplish its many programmatic and project goals.

Another session was with Courtney Dozier, Chief Deputy with the Department of Housing and Community Development, regarding rural broadband. There were many questions and few answers, but additional funding and resources are potentially on the way with a renewed emphasis on this important infrastructure by Governor Northam with bipartisan support from the General Assembly.

Beyond the educational component though, it was just good to see clients (like Farmville), friends, and colleagues in a casual setting. The power of relationship is really incredible, and this conference enabled us to get to know folks better and meet new people as well. For example, Host City Night was at Fort Monroe with a live band on a beautiful late summer/fall evening. We caught up with our friends from the towns of Amherst, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Farmville, Luray, Mt. Jackson, and Smithfield, spoke with colleagues from VHDA, VML, VACo, and consultant companies, and met new friends from the towns of Big Stone Gap, Hillsboro, and Strasburg.

In addition to the networking receptions, which are a vital component of marketing, we were able to speak with Michelle Gowdy, VML Executive Director, on ways to support VML members professionally through educational forums and other substantive means rather than just the traditional sponsor and exhibitor roles.

In the end, it really is about who you know and the power of relationships, and these events strengthen existing relationships and help to form new ones. These relationships can be leveraged to improve communities which is the whole point to our company’s existence anyway! Our motto is “Successful Together in Excellence,” and we couldn’t do that without our friends, colleagues, and partners.

#VML #conference

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