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National Conference of City and Company Leaders Coming to Grand Rapids

Take hundreds of thought leaders and innovators on urban issues from around the country, create a rock star agenda, mix them all together, and drop them in the middle of Grand Rapids during its biggest annual event, ArtPrize.

Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOs For Cities, announced on Wednesday that Grand Rapids has been selected for their Fall National Conference in 2013. The three-day conference held in downtown Grand Rapids (Sept. 29th - Oct. 1) will feature keynote speakers, tours, and tabletop discussions about issues facing cities in the 21st Century. The national conferences draw hundreds of civic minded CEOs, urban leaders, and the brightest minds from around the country. Past host cities include Boston (happening now), San Francisco, Cincinnati, Houston, St. Louis, Portland, Chicago, Miami, and Indianapolis, to name a few.

"We will use ArtPrize as our backdrop -- or better yet, our canvas -- to help our member business, community, foundation, and government leaders from about 50 different cities explore the best practices that are helping American cities grow in investments, talent, and quality of life," said Fisher during the announcement. "Grand Rapids is quickly becoming one of the most exciting and innovative cities in the country. We believe Grand Rapids deserves to be showcased for the good work they are doing."

Based in Chicago, CEOs For Cities is a nonprofit founded in 2001 with the principle that investing in cities and making them more livable are the keys to economic success for the country. The organization is made up of 250 partners from over 40 cities (including Grand Rapids and Detroit). From their website: "The key challenges we face as a nation -- economic competitiveness, climate change, access to opportunity in the form of jobs and education, fostering a spirit of shared civic purpose, even health and obesity -- are all best tackled with genuine urbanism. And cities are the best scale at which to organize to tackle these issues; they are big enough to make a difference, but small enough to make things happen quickly."

Their goal is to bring like-minded inviduals from around the country together to come up with creative solutions to today's pressing urban issues.

In addition to research and collaboration, some of the programs the organization currently spearheads include: The Talent Dividend (a $1 Million prize for the city that raises its college graduation rates the most over a four-year period), The Green Dividend, GOOD Ideas For Cities, and The U.S. Initiatve.

The lineup of speakers at the conference in Boston included Scott Griffith, CEO of Zipcar; Mayors of Nashville, Oklahoma City, Boston and Indianapolis; author Ed Glaeser (The Triumph of the City); author and urban designer Jeff Speck (Walkable Cities); and other foundation and university thought leaders on urban planning and design. Over 60 cities were represented at the conference.

Organizers in Grand Rapids had been working diligently behind the scenes for over a year to bring the national conference to the city. And having the conference in the middle of ArtPrize 2013 seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase the city to the hundreds of visitors converging in downtown Grand Rapids for the conference. The event will be managed by Experience GR and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

Rapid Growth will continue to provide coverage and information on this event as the 2013 date gets closer. You can like their Facebook Page for more up-to-date information on the organization and the work they are doing around the U.S.

Jeff Hill is Publisher of Rapid Growth Media

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