Oct 11th, 2021
We were thrilled to be in beautiful downtown Gadsden for our recent annual LAB in August. After canceling the conference in 2020 due to the pandemic, we wanted very much to see each other again – safely. We had masks on hand and sanitizer everywhere. It was wonderful seeing people fist bump in greeting and enjoying sharing stories.
Topics and speakers were abundant and well-received and ranged from Strategic Planning 101, Entrepreneur Support, Public Art, ADECA 101, Development in an Urban Environment, Advocacy How To’s, Working with DOT, Wayfinding and Merchandising just to name a few.
Highlighting the first day was the Keynote Address from Mary Means – the Founder of the Main Street Movement! It was inspiring to listen to her talk about the early days and her hopes for the future. Her relaxed and welcoming presentation style was wonderful and inspiring! We closed out the first day with an outstanding presentation from Jay Schlinsog, of Downtown Professionals Network on exploring some of the possibilities, and how some changes could become part of our district’s fabric and the way we do business in a post-COVID-19 era. He has written an article for us in this newsletter, very interesting insights. We closed out the first day of the conference with a wonderful social at Back Forty Brewery hosted by Downtown Gadsden, Inc. – very fun!
We also celebrated our annual Awards of Excellence on Main Street in the amazing Venue at Coosa Landing, a former big box store that has been reimagined in the best possible way! The awards banquet is always a highlight for me, I so enjoy the opportunity to recognize the hard work of our directors, local boards, municipalities, and volunteers in each designated district – this is highlighted in the newsletter as well with a link to all the award winners. We especially enjoy showcasing an Alabama artist each year in the making of our awards. This year was Missy Miles and her creative and beautiful gourd art.
And lastly, let’s recognize our host city for this years’ conference – Gadsden! Downtown Gadsden Inc. Kay Moore, Executive Director was a joy to work with and we LOVED having all our sessions in beautiful downtown Gadsden. Our event locations included the newly renovated Kress Building owned by the Life Insurance Company of Alabama, Cultural Arts Center, and the Gadsden Museum of Art. We were blessed to have two sessions in the district featuring Tena King on Destination Retailing and the Campbell Family on upper story development, touring the amazing loft apartments they have completed. We certainly want to thank the City of Gadsden, DGI Board Members and Volunteers, Downtown Businesses and all our LAB sponsors for a wonderful experience – looking forward to next August in Opelika.