This past week, the city hosted its first-ever webinar.
For those of you not familiar with the concept, a webinar is basically a meeting over the Internet where people can participate in a presentation in real time from the convenience of their own home or office.
The idea was first suggested by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, or MAPC. That is the regional planning agency for the Greater Boston area, which includes Gloucester. MAPC has been our partner in the city's ongoing long-term economic development efforts in the marine science and technology sector.
The webinar was titled Gloucester's "New Maritime Port Economy." The presentation content captured a synopsis of the Maritime Summit that was held in the city last November, and oriented the listener to the report about the summit that has been issued and is available on the city's website. It also highlighted key lessons learned from the summit, and outlined the next steps the city is undertaking to grow this segment of our economy.
Attending the November summit were speakers and participants from California, Canada, New England, Greater Boston, and, of course, Gloucester. In order to keep the momentum and collaboration going on this high interest subject, we determined that a webinar would be a very effective communication channel for keeping us moving forward.
Sure enough, participating in the webinar were summit keynote speakers Michael Jones, from the Maritime Alliance in San Diego, Calif., and Harlan Doliner from New England's Marine Oceanographic and Technology Network.
State and federal government agencies focused on economic development were also in attendance such as MassDevelopment, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the North Shore Economic Development Alliance. Congressman John Tierney's office also attended the webinar, keeping abreast of Gloucester.
A couple of higher education institutions were represented including MIT, UMass, Salem State University, and Endicott College. In addition, key individuals within state government who are responsible for the state's Designated Port Area (DPA) program participated. They heard first-hand of our efforts to grow this economic segment, and the need we have for regulatory flexibility and predictability for us to be successful and take full advantage of the opportunity before us.
It is very difficult to bring together the group of participants that I just described — it can be expensive, they are far flung, and are generally very busy people.
However, the webinar offered people the chance to sit at their desks during lunchtime and watch and listen about a subject that is otherwise of high importance to them and to Gloucester.
The webinar was recorded and will be available on the city website for all to watch and listen. The question and answer portion had some technical difficulties but all in all for a first attempt at this format, I couldn't be more pleased.
And while there were also a number of Gloucester people attending the webinar, the format is no substitute for the community meeting format that we like in Gloucester. Therefore, this past week, we also held a community meeting that basically went through the same presentation.
Speaking of technology, I encourage you to visit the city website at www.gloucester-ma.gov and sign up under the "Notify Me" button to receive notifications about subjects that interest you that are listed such as the public meeting held this past week on the new maritime port economy in Gloucester.
If you select "news flashes" under the Community Development Department, you will also be alerted to items like the publication of the report on the maritime summit, for example.
Reaching the audience that we were able to reach with the eebinar accelerates Gloucester's efforts to grow the maritime or marine science and technology segment of our economy.
Government isn't always a leader when it comes to technology, but in this instance I am proud that we've taken advantage of new ways to advance Gloucester's interests.
Carolyn Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.