Imagine a downtown street full of many empty storefronts, in a small town that just lost a major manufacturer. Best to just keep it quiet and try to recruit a new manufacturer in hopes that will fill those empty buildings in a few years, right? NO!
One small town in Iowa held a Tour of Empty Buildings, received national attention, kicked off an idea for other towns and started filling those buildings. You’ll hear exactly what they did to create a successful tour and to market the tour and results on a national level.
Webster City, Iowa, has a population of about 8,000. It had been home to a brand name manufacturing plant employing 2,000 workers. In 2009 the city was notified the plant would be closed. In March 2011, it was closed for good. The loss of such a high percentage of jobs was tough. But by 2013, two years had passed, and people were stuck in a negative rut.
Also in 2013, Deb Brown started as director of the chamber of commerce. She didn’t want to hide the buildings; she wanted to show them off.
This tour represented a shift from “what used to be” thinking to “what could be” thinking.