I have the great pleasure of traveling to conferences that are centered around Main Street. These are filled with people who are committed to making our places, towns, and downtown's matter - to be relevant to our lives and not fade away. I am in Tupelo, MS (the birthplace of Elvis) at the Destination Downtown conference - Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas small town managers all gathered to celebrate, learn, and dream for the future. Some highlights so far:
Entrepreneur Support - there is a real push from the National Trust to give actual support to entrepreneurs with the tools and resources that they really need. Over the next few weeks I will share some of the resources and case studies that they have highlighted.
Communication Matters - this was supposed to be a workshop on public relations, but instead it was a 101 communications class. Which actually had a great insight. She used the example of Martin Luther King's I have a Dream speech - which when I hear him I well up a little (yes, I am easily brought to tears of joy and hope.) With that as the example she said that when we are sharing our story (business, what we do, who we are) we need to educate, inspire, believe, be humble, and be enthusiastic. I sometimes tamp down my passion about small businesses and small towns when I am with people who are less than enthusiastic. I don't need to do that - I can authentically share that passion and so can you.
Lastly, the very best part of conferences is the networking. Today I had lunch with a Fed (like the banking people), a banker, a massage therapist, a small town manager and B&B owner. I learned more about the banking, community development, and making the ask for big bucks at that lunch then I did ever before. As my friend Alexa says - she has learned the value of doing lunch from me - because you reap rewards, gain relationships, and learn new insights.
As Elvis would say, thank you very much.