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Business Renaissance Man to Speak at Annual Smart Conference

For More Information Contact:

For more information contact: 


Kathy Anderson, Iowa Department of Economic Development, 515.822.8951

Mark Douglas, Iowa Utility Association, 515.282.2115



Business Renaissance man to speak at Annual SMART Conference


April 20, 2011 (Des Moines, IA) - Award winner, author and business man Ira Blumenthal will be the luncheon keynote speaker at the 26th annual SMART Economic Development Conference to be held on Thursday, May 5, 2011, at the Polk County Convention Complex.  


Blumenthal is president of CO-OPPORTUNITIES, Inc., an Atlanta based business development company that has counseled clients such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Exxon, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, United Artists, Delta Airlines, Kroger and Home Depot. He is also a celebrated writer and the recipient of the coveted "George Washington Honor Medal" for literary excellence. Ira Blumenthal is a visiting instructor at Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame, a tireless community activist and leader in the national fight against hunger and an energetic youth sports coach.


Other conference speakers include Richard Bendis, a distinguished and successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, venture capitalist, investment banker, innovation and technology based economic development leader, international speaker and consultant in the technology and healthcare industries. Mr. Bendis has extensive experience working with innovation-based economic development organizations and offers in-depth perspective on how innovation will be the state’s highway to growth.


Mark James is a sought-after instructor of economic development professionals and a popular speaker at state, regional and national events. His presentation “Social Media for the Practical Economic Development Professional” will assist regional and community economic development professionals to use social media more effectively in their efforts. Dave Ivan of Michigan State University discusses both research and application in his “Small Town Success Strategies” presentation. His current research topics examine small community approaches to compete in the new economy and the use of social media to engage new players in economic development.


The SMART Conference features many more workshop sessions and speakers throughout the day focusing on such topics as local government financing, community improvement, website development and marketing, regional cooperation, organizational management and more.


The annual SMART Economic Development Conference is the state’s largest annual conference devoted to economic development.  The conference is co-sponsored by the investor-owned electric and natural gas companies of the Iowa Utility Association (IUA) and the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED). The conference annually attracts 500 economic development professionals, business leaders, chamber of commerce executives, community leaders, elected officials and other board members who influence economic development and public policy issues statewide and within their own communities. 


Individuals may obtain more information and register for the conference by visiting The registration fee is $60 per person at the door. For additional registration questions, please call 515.282.2115.  

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Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 1.515.348.6200
email: Email Us

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