The BIABC and IDA Pacific Northwest Regional Conference took place in Coquitlam, British Columbia, just outside Vancouver this week. It was an exceptional event, filled with learning and camaraderie, for the region’s place management professionals who had not been together in-person for three years. Several observations struck me as important and relevant moving further toward recovery.
First, as is always the case, the attendees immediately found kinship, whether they were new place managers or veterans of our community. It reinforced that no other professional community exists where place management staff can immediately immerse themselves in the precise details of an issue they are addressing. No one needed to explain what they do, allowing them to move quickly into the context of their district and then share the strategies they are deploying.
Second, the confluence of returning to the office, small business support, overall workforce shortage and public safety issues (including the impacts of mental health or addiction among our unhoused citizen) remain universal challenges to most every district regardless of size or location within a metro region. Specific examples may differ from place to place, however, the discussion focused on how to best advocate for these issues and provide the most hospitable environment for returning workers, residents and visitors. Just as the place management organization became essential throughout the pandemic, it is clear we will remain essential catalyst organizations for guiding inclusive and successful recovery. Each district is increasingly leveraging data and on-the-ground experiences only IDA members possess to advocate for necessary interventions and adaptations.
My third observation reinforces the notion our very industry is experiencing a significant transition with the entry of new professionals among our ranks and the relocation of existing members to new positions or different organizations. Many conference attendees conveyed having joined the industry as early as one month prior and most within the last 18 months. Experienced professionals present at the conference were often leading a different organization or had taken a new position other than before the pandemic. This recent influx of professionals is an opportunity to infuse our work with new, outside opinions, which will enhance our innovative culture. However, it will also be incumbent upon each of us to support, educate and mentor new professionals so they can successfully navigate the complex environment we work within.
Having now visited the Vancouver region for the first time in several years, I am energized by the beauty of the area and the diverse place-based experiences we will all explore this fall at the IDA Annual Conference & Marketplace. The Vancouver region has BIAs of all sizes, stretching from downtown to adjacent neighborhood main streets, industrial districts, transit-oriented developments and emerging edge cities. Example districts match just about any type of place across North America. Vancouver will serve as the IDA laboratory this fall; and fresh off my recent experience, I know it will become the most extraordinary experience for all who attend. Book your reservation today, look for registration information in the weeks ahead and immerse yourself among the most significant professional gathering of our profession.