It's exciting to have two guest authors this week, both in response to reaching out on Twitter for leaders in innovation and strategy to share their perspectives. Today's post is from Howard McAuliffe, a real estate and community development professional in St. Louis, MO.

Howard has worked in Real Estate Development and entrepreneurial endeavors since 2001. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development with a concentration in Community Development from Saint Louis University and has served on the Public Policy Committee for Metropolis St. Louis, including serving as the Public Policy Chairperson in 2008.

In a recent tweet, Howard mentioned his participation in an upcoming Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis innovation conference. I reached out, and Howard agreed to share his perspective on the speakers and conference content:

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosted a conference on community development titled "Exploring Innovation" on April 22-24. The conference comes at a time of economic hardship throughout the world. The Exploring Innovation Conference brought together grass roots practitioners and some of the top minds in the country to discuss, collaborate, and learn.

The term "conference" brings to mind a series of experts speaking at the audience. This, however, was far from a traditional conference. The audience was as vocal as the presenters, with a conversation and exchange of information. Stand out presenters and facilitators included:

  • Alan Berube, a senior fellow and research director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.
  • Mark Pinsky, president and chief executive officer of Opportunity Finance Network.
  • Ray Boshara, vice president of the New America Foundation. He has advised presidents, testified before Congress and given speeches all over the world
  • Bill Strickland, CEO, Social Architect, Community Leader, and Visionary who has built a state of the art community center and major business incubator in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. He is using the arts to motivate the citizens that society has given up on to realize amazing accomplishments.

In addition to the world-class presenters mentioned above, some of the ideas and organizations that stood out to me were:

  • Swamp Gravy, a theatre company, revitalized its small Georgia town through its performances. This resulted in some astounding economic benefits.
  • The EAST Initiative, started in rural Arkansas, is a program that motivates children to work together to solve problems by addressing practical projects.
  • The Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity has an innovative program that allows renters to earn equity in exchange for being a responsible tenant. This includes paying rent on time, participating in property upkeep, and staying in the building for an extended period of time.

This conference was definitely a memorable and educational experience because of amazing participants, presenters, ideas, and innovations. For those interested, you can find out more information on the conference, presenters, and tools that are relevant to community development.