Jackson County and the entire Greater Kansas City region has raised the bar of excellence in terms of hosting a National Association of Counties (NACo) annual conference. The 2008 NACo Conference and Exposition proved to be a great triumph for our area as more than 5,000 visitors – county administrators, elected leaders, their families – converged on Kansas City for the July 11-15 convention.
Conference attendees came from as far away as New England on the Atlantic coast and the Hawaiian Islands of the Pacific. They represented rural communities and America’s biggest cities. All departed July 15 after what was universally described as an exceptional NACo Conference and Exposition.
“The conference was easily one of the most successful ever for NACo,” said 2007-08 NACo President Eric Coleman, an Oakland County (Michigan) Commissioner.
A spirit of local cooperation within the Greater Kansas City region was essential for this national event to be a success story. County lines and the Missouri-Kansas border all seemed to evaporate as a unified effort was put forth from the early stages of planning through the final day of conference activities. The business community also stepped up, sponsoring various events throughout the five-day convention.
“We all had a common sense of purpose – of putting our best foot forward,” said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. “Everyone in the public and private sectors who calls Greater Kansas City home understood what a successful convention on this scale would mean to our area. We wanted our NACo guests to return home singing Kansas City’s praises.”
The Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association estimated the conference would have a $6.2 million impact on the local economy.
Sanders thanked the members of the Host Committee for their collaborative leadership. He also praised the hundreds of volunteers who had convention guests repeatedly saying, “This is the friendliest place.”
NACo’s membership includes more than 2,000 counties, representing more than 80 percent of the nation’s population. The organization’s annual conference allows county officials from every corner of the country to share ideas; attending workshops this year about topics ranging from “A Closer Look at Community Health Centers” to “Exploring a Civil Dialogue on Legal Immigration.”