Economic Development Summit Keys Into 'Cool Cities'

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Everyone has a stake in the future of Payson and the surrounding Rim Country.

Taking an active part in planning that future, 80 people have registered to participate in the March 31 Payson Focused Future II Summit.

The participants will review and refine community and economic development goals and strategies created with the 2005 Focused Future II plan to strengthen Payson's economic position.

Helping participants will be Kent Burnes, who will give the keynote address to open the workshop.

Burnes is the principal consultant and vision behind Burnes Consulting. He received a degree in finance from Memphis State University and is certified in the area of Economic Development Finance by the National Development Council. He has more than 15 years of experience in the field of economic development and small business consulting, including service as a consultant to the National Main Street Center.

In recognition of Burnes' 19+ years as a professional consultant he was awarded the distinction of Certified Professional Consultant to Management by the Management Consulting Institute. This distinction has been awarded to less than 200 consultants in the United States.

Retaining and expanding small businesses in ever-changing markets is another focus of Burnes' work.

Burnes has acted as project manager to the Flagstaff, Ariz. and Sheridan, Wyo. Main Street programs. He has further assisted more than 150 other communities as a consultant on the Main Street Four Point Approach to downtown management and is known for his hands-on approach in formulating individual plans for communities.

In an interview with the Roundup, Burnes said he was director of the Flagstaff Downtown Revitalization Corp. for about six years. "Flagstaff was a great project. I left Flagstaff in about '89 or '90."

He was hands-on in Flagstaff and with all of the 750 projects that his firm has worked on.

"I think my work all over Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, and Wyoming will help with the work in Payson, but I treat each town and the people there as individuals, in that I don't boiler-plate programs for towns. The method may be the same, but the projects are specific to each town," Burnes said.

Burnes will speak about "The Cool Cities Movement" in his keynote address at the Focused Future II Summit.

"The Cool Cities Movement is an outgrowth of the downtown movement," Burnes said. "Towns are beginning to understand that they all cannot be the same cookie-cutter place that people want places and towns to be. We will discuss what makes a city ‘cool' and why people are gravitating toward those places."

The downtown movement was addressed in his "Destination Downtown(c)" program.

Every aspect of making downtown a destination was included. It takes the mystery out of revitalizing downtown. Downtown revitalization was explained so everyone can understand the process, as they learned what role individuals, businesses, property owners, government and organizations play. Where the money comes from; the kind of success that can be expected. In the program, Burnes showed participants a step-by-step process for moving a downtown forward.

Following Burnes' presentation, participants will go into groups to discuss the following topics:

  • Strong community -- Define community identity, build strong leaders, and strengthen neighborhoods and community organizations.
  • Business development -- Ensure that existing businesses are competitive and that the community remains attractive to new business investment.
  • Visitor attraction and retention -- Support tourism, a driving force in Payson's economy, by capitalizing on our scenic beauty and natural resources.
  • Quality education and work force -- Promote quality educational opportunities, a key component of work force development.
  • Community infrastructure -- Ensure that water, sewer, roads, telecommunications and utilities are available for current and future community needs.
  • Heritage and natural environment -- Preserve our unique heritage and natural forest environment.

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