This year’s theme for Mayor Chris McBarnes’ eighth City-County Leadership Summit was on the vital impact green spaces and recreational amenities have on economic development and tourism for a community.
With that thought in mind, McBarnes brought in University Distinguished Professor Dr. John Crompton of Texas A&M University, who is a national award-winning educator and recognized expert in the field of recreation, park and tourism sciences.
One of the reasons for bringing in Crompton was his different ideals and beliefs how economic development can best be achieved and the overall affects it has on all walks of life from teenagers to families to senior citizens.
“We have to look at investing differently,” said McBarnes. “We have to think outside the box and get out of our comfort zone. We have the ability to do that.”
McBarnes added the city has to think for “all of Frankfort and the future of Frankfort.”
To that end, the city received its second monetary donation for the proposed Prairie Creek Park project in downtown Frankfort from The Farmers Bank, who donated $150,000 to the project for the “future of Frankfort.” That coupled with the $250,000 donation given last week by the Clinton County Community Foundation gives the city a huge leg up in trying to finance this project.
“We have $400,000 for Prairie Creek Park between the Community Foundation and The Farmers Bank,” said McBarnes. “We’re creating this public, private partnership to reduce the burden on the public.”
The overall goal is $650,000 which McBarnes feels confident will be reached in the next couple of weeks as more announcements of contributions will be announced.
As far as the Summit was concerned, McBarnes thought the night was very successful.
“I thought Dr. Crompton did an excellent job in talking about how important green spaces, recreation amenities are not only important to the young generation in where they choose to live and raise their family but to our senior citizens as well and how much of an economic drivers that our retirees are.”
Crompton is the most cited scholar in the world in the tourism and leisure management fields. He has conducted many hundreds of workshops for professionals on marketing and/or financing in both the United States and many foreign countries, delivering keynote addresses at the World Leisure Congress and at Annual National Park and Recreation Conferences in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa along with the United States.
“When people relocate, they do so for quality of life factors rather than money,” said Crompton. “There is no great city without a great park system which includes recreational and cultural activities. Cities without this have to pay higher wages to attract workers. It’s not about salary. It’s about community.”
Crompton also said most of the business growth in this country is done by small businesses which are generally those with 10 or less employees.
Crompton also talked extensively about how communities should take care of their “low hanging fruit.”
“You can say we’re doing great things with our police departments, our fire departments and all the folks who do good things in schools and elsewhere,” said Crompton. “But people aren’t convinced because it doesn’t show up in the things they can see. It’s the tangible things they can see from which they generalize. That’s what I call the low hanging fruits.”
Crompton added it’s imperative those things be dealt with and taken care of.
“They have the most impact on people’s impressions,” said Crompton. “I would work on the places where your dilapidated, rundown properties are and make them attractive.”