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Why We Invested in BarCamp Cedar Valley

BarCamp CVCowtown to Boomtown, hosted by SeedHere in Cedar Rapids. Keynote speaker Tom Chapman (former director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce) really drove it home for me. 

To paraphrase, he told us we can’t wait around for organizations and other people to create the communities we want.  We can take charge, defining and creating them ourselves.

Inspired by Chapman, I had some follow-up discussions with Dan Beenken of the UNI Innovation Incubator, and Rob Williams from MyEntre.Net.  Long story short, we decided the Cedar Valley could benefit from a BarCamp event. 

A lot of individuals and organizations came on board to support the effort. (Check out the event site here to see all of the sponsors.) The first BarCamp CV last Saturday was a big success—around 80 people showed up for a morning of creative idea sharing and fun energy.  Many are already asking when the next one is happening.

If you want to take a look at some of the recap, check out the BarCamp CV Facebook page. Far Reach felt from the beginning that BarCamp was a worthwhile investment of our staff time and sponsorship dollars for a lot of reasons, and I’d like to highlight a few:

Vitality of our Business Community

Events like BarCamp not only energize our business community and make this a great place to live and work, they encourage collaboration.  Several “competing” businesses worked together, along with individuals and organizations in the community to make this happen.  Instead of claiming our turf, we worked together for something that benefits us all.   Without this pooling of resources and the support of organizations like the UNI Innovation Incubator (donated the meeting space) and the Cedar Valley Alliance (donated food), BarCamp wouldn’t have happened.

Offering a New Way to Network

BarCamp Cedar ValleyThe traditional means of networking have worked well for years.  However, many at BarCamp expressed their relief at being able to attend an event that was entirely about making connections and sharing ideas rather than making the sale.

Giving Voice to the Future

The next generation of business and community leaders needs a forum like BarCamp that’s less formal, offering everyone an equal opportunity to influence the agenda.  The more that young leaders are empowered to share their ideas, the more likely it is those ideas grow into something successful.

Our support of BarCampCV is strongly in line with one of our Core Values at Far Reach-- “Make a Difference.”  (We’ll be unveiling our Core Values in detail on our blog and website in upcoming months.)

Did you attend BarCamp CV? Wish you had? We’d love to hear your feedback, suggestions, observations, etc. on BarCamp and these types of events. Just leave a comment here and we’ll make sure it’s considered for the next BarCamp CV.