Discover Downtown Middlesboro (DDM) hosted events over the weekend featuring renowned community revitalization expert Storm Cunningham.
A focal point of the weekend’s offerings was a lecture given at the School of Business at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) on Friday evening.
Cunningham is considered a leading mind in the restoration of communities.
The types of community restoration Cunningham promotes are typically exemplified in business and economy, environment and engineering/construction. Cunningham is also a successful businessman and accomplished author.
Restoration became somewhat of a theme for much of Friday’s lecture.
“If it’s already damaged, then sustainability or conservation is not the proper choice; restoration is necessary,” said Cunningham.
Endorsements for Cunningham’s work come from leaders within government and businesses all around the world.
DDM members hope to utilize the knowledge and experience of a professional such as Cunningham to produce lasting results within the region.
One way, in particular, that Cunningham hopes to help Middlesboro is through his cutting-edge online tools he is making available to the area.
His website, ReCitizen.org, is transforming the way people revitalize places, with the use of “crowd” technologies.
Middlesboro will be one of just a few pilots nationally to use the new technology Cunningham has developed at ReCitizen.org.
Subsequent to the planning exercise, Cunningham has also agreed to use Middlesboro as an example nationally of successful community-led revitalization efforts.
DDM is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2006. Since that time, the organization has labored to spearhead the revitalization of Middlesboro’s downtown area.
By utilizing volunteers and committees, DDM has organized the Christmas parade and decoration of the downtown. DDM has added fountains and seating at Cumberland Avenue and 20th Street.
DDM is currently pursuing restoration projects of the Canal Walk and possibly several downtown buildings.
Present at the lecture was a strong showing of Middlesboro’s community and business leaders. There were also guests from Lexington, Nashville, Washington, D.C., and Georgia, among other places.
The night began with a welcoming introduction from Jack McCann, the dean of the LMU School of Business. Shortly thereafter, LMU students in attendance were recognized and appreciated.
Following the initial opening were words of greeting and introduction from DDM’s Isaac Kremer, executive director, and Keith Nagle, president. Nagle then officially welcomed the keynote speaker, Cunningham.
On Saturday, a separate workshop was held with community leaders, The topic concerned strategic planning.
Cunningham facilitated the discussion.
As a way of following up and following through, the next several weeks will be spent by faculty and students from LMU’s School of Business analyzing feedback and conducting additional research in efforts to prepare a formal strategic plan.
ReCitizen.org will then help with the implementation of projects people identified as priorities.
This event was made possible through the generous financial support of the Appalachian Regional Commission and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Other partners include Appalachian Regional Healthcare – Middlesboro, Bell County, Bell County Chamber of Commerce, Bell County Historical Society, City of Middlesboro, Kentucky Heritage Council, Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Main Street Program, Kentucky Small Business Development Center, Lincoln Memorial University, Preservation Kentucky and TourSEKY.