By Tim Leeds
Montana women - and businesses - will have the opportunity to capitalize on an event focusing on women's issues that could bring thousands of people to Havre in May.
"This is a premier women's event," said Charisse Boedecker, who is coordinating the planning for the Woman to Woman forum, which will be held in the Holiday Village Shopping Center and the Atrium Mall.
Boedecker last week talked to a gathering of about 30 representatives of local businesses that are, or are interested in becoming, involved in putting on the forum, which is set for May 3.
The event will include speakers, booths with samples and demonstrations of products, displays by groups and organizations serving women, short but in-depth seminars, demonstrations, and raffles and drawings, Boedecker said. All aimed at women.
Boedecker said she organized her first forum of this type while she was in Texas, then brought it to Billings in 1997.
Shortly after she moved to Havre about 18 months ago, Boedecker met Havre Daily News publisher Harvey Brock, she said. He asked her how she could use her extensive experience in business and promotion to help the community, Boedecker said.
"Harvey challenged me," she said.
The forum will provide women with an opportunity to hear about women's medical issues, like menopause, sleep, pregnancy and diet issues; women's financial planning; new and innovative products; and groups and organizations specifically serving women.
And it will provide the opportunity for businesses to capitalize on area women and those who come from outside the Hi-Line to attend the forum. Boedecker said the 1997 forum in Billings attracted 3,000 women.
The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce has estimated that the Havre event could attract more, Boedecker said.
Some of the businesses interested in displaying and demonstrating products range from national pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies to local businesses and manufacturers.
Boedecker said one of the companies interested in the forum is Saran, the makers of Saran Wrap, which wants to display its new disposable cutting sheets.
Northern Montana Medical Group has said it will be a co-sponsor for the event, providing information on medical topics of interest to women, Boedecker said.
The local office of the national financial planning company, Waddell & Reed, is also becoming a major sponsor, she said.
The Havre Daily News is offering free promotion of the forum, before, during and after the event, and KXEI radio, which broadcasts around the state, is also a sponsor, Boedecker said.
Those promotions will be broadcast n 19 radio markets which, she said, is probably the reason the Chamber estimates 4,000 to 6,000 people will attend.
"It doesn't get any better in marketing," Boedecker said.
The promotions get the word out to women all over the state, she added.
"We're going to shake them out of the weeds," Boedecker said.
She has extensive experience in marketing.
By the time she was 14, Boedecker, who grew up in a military family, had traveled up and down the West Coast, as well as lived in Puerto Rico, Idaho and Montana, among other places.
After graduating from Helena High School, she married another Helena graduate, Brooks Boedecker, who went into the oil business, and her traveling continued, she said.
Her work experience included print media, broadcast media and broadcast marketing before she started her own marketing company, Positive Programs.
Her extensive traveling and work led to Woman to Woman, she said.
When she was working as a young professional, she had a husband, three children, a house and a job.
"And I was losing my mind," she said.
She said she had virtually no time for herself, and realized that one thing she wanted was to have a day to herself. It could be a day to relax, a day to shop for something fun for herself or to find out about new things that interested her, she said. All of those are included in Woman to Woman.
Boedecker said she wants to hear people's ideas about what should be at the forum, and what groups and businesses want to be involved.
Other sponsors so far include Bear Paw Development Corp., where Tracy Jette of the Small Business Development Center has agreed to be involved, and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce, Boedecker said.
The final list of major sponsors is not close to being finished, she added.
Boedecker hopes the area is beautified and that all stores look their best and have ordered merchandise they will want to have on hand during the forum. That could include stocking up on basic merchandise, and stocking new merchandise to try out for the forum, she said.
If the organizers can get everyone in the area on board with a sale or special to capitalize on the women coming to the forum, "that's going to help everybody," she said.
Boedecker said she and the Havre Daily News staff working on the project will develop a timeline to distribute to people interested in the program to keep them informed of deadlines.
Boedecker said if any community can pull a project like the forum off, it's Havre and the Hi-Line.
"If we can't do this there's something wrong," she said. "I can't get over the resources in this community."
Havre and the Hi-Line have something she's never seen anywhere else, she added. The people here genuinely care about their communities and each other, she said.
"Havre is a whole 'nother place," Boedecker said. "It's an amazement to me."