Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance
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Summit Sponsor Spotlight: Northeastern State University

Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Northeastern State University (NSU), a founding partner of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance, will again host the 9th Annual Summit on the campus, October 24, with the focus on health as an economic development driver.
More than 300 regional stakeholders will be on hand to collaborate and participate in this one-day event, with speakers and workshops designed to help communities, businesses, and organizations discover how focusing on healthy practices can build a stronger northeast Oklahoma.
Executive Director of NORA Darla Heller said NSU understands the potential of the region and its people to address challenges and enact change for a better northeast Oklahoma.
"NORA is proud to aid NSU efforts toward this end as the two organization work in harmony to the economic success of Northeast Oklahoma," said Heller.
The university, through the lens of its strategic plan, recognizes a direct relationship between academic programs and economic growth and citizenship, said Dr. Ron Cambiano, Special Assistant to the President, "which allows me to be involved externally in many diverse roles. I represent the university on numerous community boards and cooperatives, ensuring a better understanding of the needs of our region."
"The present economic environment in our state is challenging and reinforces the importance of involvement in integrating regional conversations that combine strategic intent and sustained civic effort," said Cambiano, who also serves as Vice Chair of NORA, a position he has held for seven years.
Cambiano believes NORA's is a compelling story of the growth and development of the region.
"I have been very fortunate to be associated with NORA from its inception. Prior to 2008, the organization represented three counties: Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah, known as SACC-EZ," he said.  "With a focus on regionalism, it was a "united voice for a shared vision" that recognized the importance of working collaboratively with the region's economic, business, community and educational partners."
Representing fourteen counties requires everyone to accept that the area is too large and complex for any one unit of government to address, he said. Overcoming the challenges of rural eastern Oklahoma requires regional unity.
"NORA acts as the conduit for communication, cooperation and collaboration -  all necessary ingredients for the success of our regional undertakings," he said.
The university and its partners affirm that, collectively, they aspire to provide its citizens with sustainable opportunities and strategies that enhance quality of life.
"From its beginning, NORA has served the region through coordination and planning and provided a consistent message related to the needs of rural Oklahoma," he said. "As a board, we are united in our efforts and understand, appreciate and embrace the value the organization brings."
This approach also philosophically aligns with the mission of the university because it recognizes the importance of collaborative relationships and assists in our joint efforts to work for the public good, said Cambiano.
From a university perspective, our involvement has developed naturally from our mission of regional stewardship, he said.
"As a reference, the framework of regional stewardship consists of (1) a livable community (great place to live and work) (2) social inclusion (building relationships) (3) collaborative governance (working together for results) (4) Innovative economy (meaningful jobs)," he said.
Our institution supports and encourages all of our employees to be involved in their communities and, as a result, we are uniquely situated to develop a comprehensive perspective related to the needs of our external partners, Cambiano said, "I represent the president's commitment to the areas we serve, as we work to build the regional capacity of our region. We embrace the interdependence the university has with our communities and ensure that there is a direct correlation between our academic programs and the economic, societal and public good."
At the current time and into the foreseeable future, it is hard to overstate the importance of education and the relationship higher education has to economic and social progress in our region, Cambiano said.
"Our economy now and into the future is knowledge driven and the most valuable asset of the state is it's educated and skilled populace," said Cambiano. "Being involved with NORA permits us to receive constructive feedback, making it possible to adapt and leverage our programs to provide critical services and build community capacity."
To register for the Summit or for information about joining NORA contact Darla Heller, Executive Director, P.O. Box 945, Tahlequah, OK 74464, Phone: (918) 772-8334, d.heller@neokregion.org and www.neokregion.org