Look out across Mississippi and see the entrepreneurial success stories that surround many small towns and cities. Creatives and other stakeholders have partnered adding life to otherwise overlooked urban areas. Once dilapidated and unloved properties seem to glow with a renewed spirit and purpose. But, it's not about what the facade looks like so much as it is about the energy and ambition that flows out onto the street as you walk by.
These energetic, never-give-up individuals see potential in the blighted, overlooked storefronts and roll their sleeves up to make a space for themselves that quickly becomes another piece in the rich mosaic they are a part of. It is their unique ability to see opportunity where others overlook possibility that defines an infectious spirit of camaraderie among their numbers.
I believe Downtown Hattiesburg offers this same potential and I also believe the skill and desire to build a creative economy is alive, waiting to be tapped into. Thursday, August 10th Oddfellows will host an important forum that we hope addresses this subject and can light a spark which will burn bright enough to attract much needed attention to this unique opportunity.
Consider becoming a part of something that can boost the Downtown's economy and build on a future of unprecedented growth. The success of Thursdays Farmers Market, Music in Town Square events, the new and exciting Makers Market and other traditional events has proven that people want to visit Downtown. What we are missing, what is essential to continued viability are new shops, boutiques, galleries and eateries that can sustain interest day-in and day-out, 7 days a week, throughout the year.
When creativity and entrepreneurship intersect, something amazing usually happens. So, join us next Thursday the 10th by registering online at www.oddfellows.com. The link is on our homepage. Let me share a final thought:
Downtown will always be the heART of Hattiesburg!
A few of our featured guests at the forum:
Malcolm White, Executive Director of The Mississippi Arts Commission
Bethany Byrd, Founder of Own Your Hill
Betsy Rowell, Executive Director of Stone County Economic Development
Robert St John, Restaurateur and Creative Entrepreneur
Wyatt Waters, Acclaimed Mississippi Artist
Kim Whitt, President of The Hattiesburg Arts Council
Dr. Scott Hummel, William Carey University Provost
Toby Barker, Mayor of the City of Hattiesburg