Smarter Economy Conference Will Address Economic, Environmental Issues

The Cape Cod Commission will facilitate a brainstorming session on local issues of environment and economy at a Smarter Economy Conference on May 12.

Located at the Wequasset Resort and Golf Club in Harwich, the event will open with an informal poster session where scientists from across the Eastern Seaboard will present research on economic issues affecting Cape Cod. The focus of the event will be “looking forward,” Cape Cod Commission environmental economist Mahesh Ramachandran Ph. D., a key planner for the event, said. Attendees will be invited to view the posters and discuss research with presenters at their own leisure.

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Following the poster session, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross will set the tone of discussion for the day with opening remarks titled, “Our Environment is Our Economy.”

“Our environment is the biggest economic asset,” Mr. Ramachandran said. “It is not one versus the other...Our environmental assets have values that need to be considered in economic planning, because if you don’t, then it tends to be undervalued.”

A keynote address by Jim Gomes, the director of the Mosakowski Institute for Public Enterprise at Clark University, will open to discussions by environmental and economic specialists such as University of Connecticut economics professor Kathy Segerson; systems engineer and real estate investor William Carlson, who was a program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Marine Program specialist Joshua Reitsma; Cape Cod Healthcare president and CEO Michael K. Lauf; and Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank CEO Dorothy Savarese.

Anne Van Vleck, the executive director of Cape Cod Young Professionals, and Cape Cod Commission deputy director Kristy Senatori will also provide an explanation of Shape the Cape, an initiative by the nonprofit to reshape local communities by diversifying the Cape’s workforce and encouraging young residents to participate in local government.

Within the context of the environment and the economy, the discussions will create a “bigger picture” of the Cape’s future, Mr. Ramachandran said. He anticipates speakers will point to potential obstacles and present suggestions of what “moving forward” economically might look like.

“What kind of development do we need? What strengths do we have for our future and what strengths do we need?” he said, offering examples of questions that speakers might address. “Could the shellfishing industry play a role? I don’t know.”

Registration for the conference is open online at http://summit2014.smartercapecod.com. There is a $40 registration fee.

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