Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance
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Register Now for the 9th Annual Regional Summit

Published: Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Healthy communities are vibrant communities and build a strong workforce essential for healthy businesses and a strong economy. The Northeastern Oklahoma Regional Alliance (NORA) welcomes the community to the 9th Annual Summit, October 24 at Northeastern State University, that will focus on health as an economic development driver.
Speakers and workshops are designed to help communities, businesses, and organizations discover how focusing on healthy practices can build a stronger northeast Oklahoma. More than 300 stakeholders from the region will be on hand to collaborate and participate in this one-day event, said Executive Director of NORA Darla Heller.
"NORA strives to start the conversation around health as an economic development drive to give communities a venue in which to address how health and a healthy lifestyle directly impacts the economy," said Heller. "Many of our communities are addressing this topic, however many lack the information or the resources to have impact in this area."
NORA starts this conversation which is overdue, added Heller.
Johnnie Earp, president of Grand Savings Bank in Jay and new chairman of NORA welcomes members as well as individuals looking gain an understanding of benefits of NORA, to the conference.                                                   
"The primary importance of NORA is the partnerships that are developed through the diverse membership base. The economic ideas, information, and tools brought to the table by these members enhance the opportunity for economic development throughout our region," said Earp.
Two outstanding conference speakers will share knowledge of the qualities of the healthiest communities and discuss the state of health in eastern Oklahoma, Blue Zone expert Nick Buettner and Secretary of Health and Human Services and Oklahoma’s Commissioner of Health. Dr. Terry Cline, Ph.D.
Dr. Terry Cline will open the summit and address the overall health of northeast Oklahoma and how to collaborate as a region for a positive economic impact by addressing healthy lifestyles.
With extensive experience in overseeing health and human services at the national, federal and state level, Cline previously completed a post as Health Attaché at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. He served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama with the US Department of Health and Human Services, and a local provider as the Clinical Director of the Cambridge Youth Guidance Center in Cambridge, MA. Outside of professional experience Cline was appointed as a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, serving as chairman of the governing board for Harvard teaching hospital.
Lunch Keynote Speaker Nick Buettner has first-hand knowledge of the Blue Zones - places that have the greatest life expectancy and where more people reach age 100 more than anywhere else in  the world.
The Community and Corporate Program Director for Blue Zones Project, Buettner is responsible for taking the Blue Zones’ lessons to 39 communities in nine states, impacting more than 2 million people’s health across the United States. Using National Geographic photography and a dynamic, storytelling delivery, he will take conference attendees to these longest-lived cultures, sharing his observations from the field, and provide ideas to immediately increase individual and community healthy longevity and well-being.
Every year NORA membership grows as people discover the opportunities it brings. NORA serves Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Rogers, Sequoyah, Wagoner and Washington counties.
NORA is a coalition that allows its members to network, develop local leaders, and be an active voice related to the variety of critical success factors for on-going economic and community development in rural NEOK said Steve Gilbert, NORA board member and president and CEO of the Miami (OK) Regional Chamber of Commerce.
"Nora is important to small towns and rural communities across NEOK," said Gilbert. "The public policy and workforce development efforts of NORA give rural Oklahomans a voice at the State Capitol, and together we have a bigger voice when it comes to issues and challenges we face in our hometowns, issues like education and training, transportation, local government funding and healthcare."
As for workforce development, said Gilbert, "NORA’s efforts are important to not only our youth and jobs seekers of all ages, but NORA’s efforts create a competitive advantage for business and industry who are located in our rural region, by bringing attention and resources to help solve the challenges related to workforce availability, quality and cost."
Town Administrator of Gore and NORA board member Horace Lindley, believes NORA is important because it affords the opportunity to be part of a larger organization that serves this area of Oklahoma.
"NORA is the backbone of economic development for the 14 counties involved," said Lindley. "In the words of Emanuel Cleaver, "there is more power in unity than division." I would strongly suggest that if you want to be part of this unity come join us at our annual conference and become a member of NORA."
To register contact Darla Heller, Executive Director, P.O. Box 945, Tahlequah, OK 74464, Phone: (918) 772-8334, and

Along with health the following topics relevant to our region to help communities leverage resources to generate wealth and impact include:
• Customer Service by The Disney Institute
• Panel Discussion on Building Community Capacity
• Power of Grants in Funding Your Project
• Panel Discussion: How Mentorship Programs Are Impacting our Workforce
• Report out: NORA work on Sector Strategies for the Cherokee Nation
• Real Tools Communities Can Use to Ignite Retail
• Goggle Tools for Communities and Businesses
• Using TIF Districts to Fund Your Project
• Making Data Work for You by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce
• How an Oklahoma community became a Blue Zone
• Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships
• Tobacco Policy/ Ordinances and Economic Impact on Communities’ and Businesses
• Prevention Efforts for Addressing Addiction
• A Conversation about Healthcare Policy: How Rural Communities Could be Impacted