Shaping the Future in Sisters Country

June, 2015

Clockwise from top left: RDI's Noelle Colby-Rotell presents on taking action locally; Tour of Preston Thompson Guitars in Sisters; Youth Engagement Panel; Economic Vitality Summit attendees.
Over 130 attendees representing communities from across Deschutes County and the state of Oregon gathered at the FivePine Lodge & Conference Center in Sisters for the Sisters Country Economic Vitality Summit. The May 8 summit, Shaping Sisters: Pioneers on the Frontier of Innovation, was presented by RDI in partnership with The Ford Family Foundation, Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), and local community partners. The grassroots effort was designed by community leaders from across Sisters Country to bring people together, become more familiar with what’s happening in the community, energize and motivate community members interested in being a part of shaping the future and strengthening the economy of the region, and generate opportunities for engagement and moving to action.
The opening keynote was delivered by by Bob Cooper, CEcd, Director of Corporate Relations, Landmark Development. An expert in local business expansion and retention programs, business attraction, and strategic business alliances, he spoke on Embracing Change: Striking the Balance Between Innovation and Tradition. Bob also spoke about finding balance between change and innovation and holding authentic culture and values of a community. He gave examples of communities who embraced change as an economic development driver, and others that maintained their distinct traditions and unique culture throughout decades of development. 
A second keynote presentation, Follow You Anywhere: The Alignment of Leadership and Marketing, was delivered by Marketing Strategist of ChamberThink Strategies Kyle Sexton, an award-winning marketing strategist, international speaker, and author on the topics of membership development, marketing, and innovation. His speech touched on the parallels between community leadership and business marketing, and how servant leadership can create catalytic change. 
This interactive summit also included panels on youth engagement; the arts and authentic culture of Sisters, and entrepreneurship and innovation. RDI Senior Program Manager Noelle Colby-Rotell closed the summit with her session, Taking Action Locally & Building Momentum. A reception at Three Creeks Brewing followed, where community members gathered to discuss additional opportunities and next steps. 
Following the summit, Caprielle Foote-Lewis, Sisters Economic Development Director, commented on the success of the day, “We truly are making a difference during a pivotal time. As a result of the summit, I know of four small businesses considering Sisters.” The focus is now to move the community to action. A follow-up to the summit is taking place at FivePine Lodge & Conference Center on June 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Local community members who attended the Economic Vitality Summit and who are interested in taking action are invited to join.  
Economic Vitality Summits focus on empowering rural economies and investing locally in the future of our communities. Local leaders have shown they are interested in focusing on making good things happen, especially in difficult economic times. Economic Vitality Summits include exciting strategies designed to inform what is happening locally and provide methods for boosting regional economic vitality. The goal is to increase economic vitality by sharing resources and generating new ideas to invigorate rural communities. Interested in bringing an Economic Vitality Summit to your region? Contact RDI’s Mary Bosch, email:, or submit a request form which can be downloaded from our website.