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By Charles Glaser, RSVA President,
Winter, 2008

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Amid all the challenges that face the Randolph-Sheppard Program, a beacon shown through in Las Vegas this past February as RSVA presented it’s first “SAGEBRUSH CONFERENCE”. It is human nature for people to be reluctant to change, and the conference committee felt that pressure. This conference had to set the tone for the future of Sagebrush. Our goals were to inform our audience about current obstacles and opportunities facing our program, to provide a positive learning experience for managers and staff in how to best manage our facilities and the program, and to give a glimpse into the working world around us.

Today everyone is concerned about possible changes to our priority. Catriona Macdonald, BEA lobbyist, told us about upcoming meetings and briefings with government and congressional staff that may impact current opportunities for Business Enterprise Programs.

 The Federal/State government agencies, as well as the private sector, really stepped up to help make this conference a success. The Rehabilitation Services sent Ray Hopkins and Suzanne Mitchell to keep us on the straight and narrow. Other Federal and State agency representatives compared their best practices, and learned from each other, as well as national speakers on how to maximize the potential of their programs.
Managers were offered specific programming for our community. Presentations on tax credits for hiring the disabled and Social Security disability led the way to emerging trends in products for our facilities and marketing our program and ourselves. We were informed of future changes in technology like the coming changes in television broadcasts, new cell phones and video glasses with built in cameras. Our Expo offered a variety of products, services and equipment tailored to our businesses and personal needs.

The week culminated with our luncheon speaker Jay Randolph, a nationally known sports commentator and son of Senator Jennings Randolph who was the lead sponsor of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Jay gave us his personal insight into the man who created our future. The Randolph-Sheppard Act was the first piece of legislation that the then Representative Randolph sponsored, got passed, and continued to champion the rest of his life.

We feel very fortunate that the feedback from our conference audience has been wonderful. All this could not have happened without the help of our dedicated committee and many of their spouses. We thank the Federal government for sending us representatives of their agencies; State agencies for having the foresight to expose their staff to the future of Randolph-Sheppard; the speakers for their willingness to share; our exhibitors for giving us an opportunity to see and feel the most recent innovations in our industry; and our sponsors not only for giving financial support, but professional expertise and a strong desire to see Randolph-Sheppard grow and flourish. Most importantly we thank those of you who attended the 2008 Sagebrush Conference. You made it a success!


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