Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined our group for some send-off remarks prior to the close of our meeting this afternoon. Rep. Cramer has championed numerous letters to the FCC advocating for USF High-Cost support. He has also been a voice of sanity on the current frenzy in DC to allow overbuilding of broadband facilities supported by federal funds–with additional federal funds–(this strikes me as inefficient and a serious waste of government resources!) and even gave a shout-out to NTCA members for their active grassroots engagement, willingness to fly out to DC to talk with policymakers and also to take those conversations and sharing of opportunities, successes and challenges back to the states when members of Congress are back home.
Rep. Cramer’s last gig before his run for Congress was Public Utility Commissioner for the state of North Dakota; so he was perfectly positioned and ready for his seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has used that seat to support the efforts of RLECS and their efforts to build broadband in rural America.
As we begin to wind down our regional meetings and gear up for next year’s summer symposiums, the rest of the discussion in Fargo was a very engaging focus on change and how to embrace it. Our AMAC put together an amazing panel of industry leaders such as Shilah Butler from Copper Valley, Kristi Westbrock from CTC, Gary Johnson from Paul Bunyan and Ryan Thompson from Santel all shared their efforts to change their organizations from the inside out. From topics like staff engagement, customer experience, new ways to brand your broadband company, engaging young consumers, to how to edge out into underserved areas served (loosely defined of course) by larger carriers–all topics were fair game.
Columbus, Ohio will be a bittersweet end to NTCA regional meetings but it’s time for a new era and new educational and networking vehicles. I truly think our director training focus kicking off in 2019 will hit just the mark for the industry. I also tend to be a big fan of at least trying new things and giving it a whirl…no harm…no foul! Our team is carrying that same attitude into planning our RTIME meeting in New Orleans and I am really excited about some of the ways they are looking to create memorable networking experiences for all attending!