Today’s Economy and Your Business
The Economic Club of Grand Rapids launches its fall programming with a speaker lineup that focuses on business success. President Natalia Kovicak gives us a sneak peek of what’s coming in this edition of Money, I’m Home.
00:04 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Welcome. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson. Money, I’m Home with Consumers Credit Union. From finance to fitness we have it all for you. And today we are going to talk a little bit about finance and economics and ways you can continue to network during this COVID-19 that we’re all facing. Joining us today is Natalia Kovicak, and she is the president of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids. Natalia, thanks so much for being with us today.
00:31 Natalia Kovicak: Thank you so much for having me, Lynne.
00:34 LJJ: I have to say welcome. You are the brand new president of The Economic Club of Grand Rapids, and I’ve been honored to serve on the Board and to be a part of the Econ Club for many, many years. It’s wonderful to have you.
00:48 NK: Thank you so much. It is truly an honor to believe in the Economic Club in this very challenging times that we are facing these days, but I am thrilled to be working with our strong board of directors, our Board Chair Tina Freese Decker, who is a terrific leader, and, of course, all of our executive team members as well, to come up with a very strong virtual strategy for this fall season.
01:19 LJJ: Well, that’s what we’re really going to talk about, Natalia, is this, the change and what’s going on in the environment, especially for networking, which is what the Econ Club is known for. Let’s get a little bit about your background, because I know that you also had previously spent with the Right Place and doing event management and planning. Was your hat on with the Right Place when COVID started and everything had to change?
01:44 NK: Absolutely, yes. I was with the Right Place for 12 years, and I was the vice president of conferences and events at a terrific organization. And we did 25 to 30 events every year. Networking of course was a big piece of our programs. So, when COVID-19 hit, we were in the middle of planning a very large conference and several other events. And we quickly had to switch things around and be creative and innovative and learn from the incredible resources that our event industry community had to offer to continue to be relevant for our investors at the Right Place. So, when this opportunity came along at the Econ Club of Grand Rapids, I was extremely excited to be able to join the team and help the club to also switch things around and be still… a forum where we can connect, inform and inspire our members.
02:52 LJJ: Well, I’ll tell you what, you are doing just that. I’m very excited. This week on Monday is going to be Dr. Alan Beaulieu, who normally we have in January to talk about the economics and economy in an outlook. He is always a sold-out presenter for us, but he is coming early due to the fact of COVID, and we’re going to be doing this virtually. Tell us a little bit about Dr. Beaulieu.
03:21 NK: Absolutely, so he is coming to our club on Monday, September 21. We are going to do a Zoom virtual meeting starting at 1:30 p.m. He has a lot of information to share with us. As you said it, he is an extremely strong speaker, has been selling out all of our sessions for the last several years, and our members and community are very anxious to hear about what is the economy is going to look like post-COVID-19. And he’s going to talk in depth about several different areas. So, he’s going to be presenting for an hour, and then we are going to open it up for a Q and A session for about 15 minutes.
04:08 LJJ: So, tell us, Natalia, how can people get involved? If they’re not a member of the Econ Club, well number one, let me as a board member, say we sure want you as a member.
04:18 NK: Yes, this is individual membership, so if you’re not a member, I highly encourage you to go to econclub.net and become a member today. It’s only $195 a year, and you are able to take advantage of some of the exclusive offerings that we have for our members. And if you’re not a member and you do not want to become one, you can also attend our virtual sessions as a guest at a different pricing, of course.
04:48 LJJ: Absolutely. One of the things I think that people are getting a little bit… I don’t want to say tired of. But, the in-person is always something that everybody now really realizes how much we miss. And the thing that I like about the fact that you are leading a virtual change currently, is also the thought of that connection and networking can still happen even if it’s virtual.
05:16 NK: Yes, and we know our members are very anxious to get back to some sort of networking. So, in addition to our programs, that is another one of the reasons why our members appreciate the value that we bring to the communities, the high-level programming and speakers that we bring and thought leadership. So, we are going to also be offering networking opportunities for those who still value the virtual networking, and we are going to do more focus type of sessions with breakouts to encourage discussions and conversations. And we also going to be offering executive roundtable discussions for our members only for specific topics of interest that are relevant to today’s day and age.
06:08 LJJ: Well, I do love the fact that, that the one thing about the Econ Club that has been such a delight is when we do meet in person, and now when we do roundtables virtually, you really don’t know who you’re going to be sitting with. But it’s been an amazing door opener to be able to meet people that are going through the same things you might be in work, but also different industries that help you connect in different ways.
06:37 NK: Absolutely, and that will be the sense with the active networking opportunity. Knowing that you’ll be discussing and getting to know other members in a smaller group of 8 to 10 people, really, really inspire our community to be part of. So, we are going to be very strategic about when we offer those opportunities, where members, actually our board members, will help moderate some of those conversations also.
07:06 LJJ: That will be awesome. So, Natalia, tell us a little bit about some upcoming presentations that are coming our way.
07:14 NK: Absolutely. So, we have, again, September 21 with Dr. Alan Beaulieu. We have the next session on October 5. The speaker will be Tim Alberta, and Tim is a chief political correspondent for POLITICO Magazine, and he’s, of course, going to talk about an update on today’s political day and age with the election, just a month away from October 5. The next session we are really excited about as well is October 19. We are having the chairman of the board and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, and he’s going to come and give us an update on where we are at with the COVID-19 vaccine and have a very interactive discussion, not only with our members, but, of course, with our board here [with] Tina Freese Decker as the presidency of Spectrum Health. And then we have November 2, an amazing session as well, where Dr. Philomena Mantella, who is going to be giving us a little bit of a higher educational landscape in today’s changing environment also. So those are what you have to look forward to in the next month. And, of course, we have two more sessions in November and December that we will be reviewing as we move forward.
08:32 LJJ: Well, Natalia, thank you so much for your information, and I’m so excited to work with you, especially to share such quality programming for our community. If you are an individual who is interested in becoming a member of the Econ Club, please go to the website and join up now. It’s a priceless opportunity, because we really do learn so much about the world around us, and then we can bring it back to our own work in everyday life.
09:02 NK: Thank you so much, Lynne, and I also want to stress that, as an Econ Club member, you have a new exclusive season pass for the fall sessions that you can take advantage of. So, I would encourage again, to all of the listeners, to become members just to continue supporting our community and hear from extremely relevant speakers and network with incredible leaders.
09:30 LJJ: Thank you so much, Natalia, and, you know what? Don’t be shy. If you hear the word “Grand Rapids”, you might think you have to live in Grand Rapids to be a member. That is not accurate. We cover all of the United States actually, but truly our focus is collaborating with so many organizations in the Michigan market and helping bring that content to life, and we’d love to have you involved. Natalia, thank you so much for joining us today.
09:58 NK: Thank you so much, Lynne. Have a wonderful afternoon and thanks everyone for listening to this podcast.
10:04 LJJ: I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Money, I’m Home, from finance to fitness. I’d like to thank Jake Esselink, our producer. Hey, join us would you, next week, and if you want to, send us some information on a guest you’d love to hear from. Lynne Jarman-Johnson, Consumers Credit Union.