Coastal Bend Council of Governments Working Forum for Sustainable Solutions Set for Feb. 27

Article by: Michael Bratten

It will be a first for Del Mar College and the Coastal Bend Council of Governments (CBCOG). During a Feb. 27 Working Forum for Sustainable Solutions, attendees will utilize a system that instantly gathers and displays their feedback on the topics discussed. The technology, called Poll Everywhere, is designed to make meetings more streamlined and efficient by eliminating the need for note pads, flip charts and easels.

“The concept is to involve discussion of the audience in response to what’s presented,” said Richard Bullock, CBCOG Director of Planning & Development. “In most workshops you sit, you listen and you leave. You don’t give much if any feedback. This process will generate responses and let other people see them at other tables.”

The CBCOG Working Forum for Sustainable Solutions is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, at Del Mar College’s Center for Economic Development, 3209 Staples St. (Staples and Kostoryz). 

Attendees will sit at tables outfitted with a Microsoft Surface 2 tablet provided by Del Mar College, along with a designated table leader. After each topic is presented by speakers at the front of the room, questions will be asked of the audience such as “How will your community or entity respond to what has been presented?” and “What questions do you have of the presenters?”

Table leaders will then guide group discussions for an allotted time period and type their responses on the tablet. The information will be displayed on screens around the room. 

“Your job is to draw the group to consensus,” said Lenora Keas, Executive Director of Strategic Planning/Assessment and Workforce Initiatives at Del Mar College, during a recent training session for table leaders.

Poll Everywhere replaces verbal feedback with quick, electronic feedback, and that’s what excites organizers of the Feb. 27 forum. 

“When you get verbal participation, the meeting can get bogged down,” said Tom Niskala, Transportation Planning Director at the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

“This is so much more streamlined.”

A summary report containing feedback gathered through Poll Everywhere will be available in realtime and available to elected officials at the end of the forum. 

Attendees will have plenty of information to respond to. The forum brings together elected officials, city officials and experts from the 11-county CBCOG area to identify solutions to housing, transportation and water issues:

Housing Track (9:05-10:40 a.m.) 

Speakers: 

* Dr. Thomas Tunstall, Director, Center for Community and Business Research, University of Texas at San Antonio Institute for Economic Development, expert on the economic impact of the Eagle Ford Shale industry

* Dr. Harold Hunt, Research Economist, Texas A&M University Real Estate Center

* Bart Braselton, Executive Vice President, Braselton Homes and Braselton Land Ventures 

Transportation Track (10:40 a.m.-12:05 p.m.) 

Speakers: 

* Tomas Trevino, Corpus Christi District Maintenance Engineer, Texas Dept. of Transportation

* Ruben Medina, Director of Business Development, Port of Corpus Christi

Water Track (1-2:35 p.m.) 

Speakers: 

* Tommy Schulte, Regional Representative, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority

* Rocky Freund, Deputy Executive Director, Nueces River Authority

* Connie Townsend, Regional Water Planning & Development Project Manager, Texas Water Development Board

* Gustavo Gonzales, Assistant City Manager, Public Works and Utilities, City of Corpus Christi

A panel discussion about the 2015 Texas legislative session is scheduled from 12:05 to 1 p.m. Speakers include Judy Hawley, Chair of the Port of Corpus Christi Commission, and Texas State Representatives J.M. Lozano and Ryan Guillen. Live Oak County Judge Jim T. Huff will also discuss the future of the region fall meeting.

For more information about the Coastal Bend Council of Governments forum, contact Richard Bullock, CBCOG Director of Planning & Development, at 361-883-5743 or richard@cbcog98.org.

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