The region’s business community came together and engaged September 27 for the 2018 – and first – Brazos Valley Business Forum.
The event with its “Engage” theme was put on by the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation and held at the Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. It featured presentations and discussions on key issues affecting area businesses and the region.
Headlining the forum was best-selling author Dr. Rick Rigsby, a former Texas A&M University professor who now lends his insight and inspiration to major companies around the world. A 2017 speech of his posted online went viral, garnering 130 million views in one month and making Rigsby even more in demand.
“I just feel good being in Aggieland,” Rigsby told local media, as quoted by The Eagle. “My goal for being here is to really encourage business owners, entrepreneurs, those who are starting businesses to grow the kind of infrastructure all throughout this community that will attract new businesses – businesses from literally all over the world right here to the Brazos Valley.”
The event also featured the unveiling of “Economic Indicators of the College Station-Bryan MSA,” a monthly report compiled by the Texas A&M Private Enterprise Research Center in partnership with the BVEDC. Each issue will showcase the newly-created College Station-Bryan Business-Cycle Index and additional indicators to provide insight into the strength of the Brazos Valley economy.
More than 250 attendees took part in the forum, including registrants, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and volunteers. The attendance was a significant increase from the 2017 Governor’s Small Business Forum held in Bryan. In fact, the number of 2018 registrants alone exceeded the total number of attendees at the 2017 forum.
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism partners with entities across the state each year to hold multiple forums, but doesn’t return to the same communities a year later in order to allow other cities to put on the events. The BVEDC decided after the 2017 forum that it would hold its own event to bring together executives and employees from across a wide spectrum of industries and entities.
As part of the forum, several sessions were offered on topics ranging from cultivating positive corporate cultures to managing investments to boosting digital media and marketing. A progressive lunch also allowed participants an extended networking opportunity. Those sessions featured a range of industry professionals and A&M researchers and professors.
Rigsby’s speech, entitled “Making an Impact,” ranged from personal anecdotes about family triumph and tragedy to doing the basics better than anyone else in order to succeed in business. He noted the growth he has seen in the region in the quarter-century since he first arrived as at the university, and said he felt a significant momentum toward prosperity.
“In order to achieve those lofty goals, business owners every day have to ask themselves a simple question: ‘How great do I want to be today?’ I believe that is the genesis toward making an impact, toward leaving a legacy in the Brazos Valley worth following,” Rigsby said.
In addition to the debut of “Economic Indicators,” the morning featured a welcome from Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young, an update on the Brazos Valley Economic Development Strategy by Steering Committee Tri-Chair Spencer Clements, and a look at the “1 Million Cups” entrepreneurs group from regional chapter co-founder Will Hayes.
"Thank you, Brazos Valley, for participating in this year's Business Forum," said BVEDC President/CEO Matt Prochaska. "It was an awesome day of engaging with business leaders. The feedback has been tremendously positive, from Rick Rigsby's keynote address to the fantastic breakout sessions to the new economic index. Our team and organization is all about helping the businesses of the Brazos Valley grow."
Planning is already underway for a second Brazos Valley Business Forum.