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Thursday, October 3 • 11:00am - 12:15pm
Cultivating Rural Innovation: An Asset-Based Approach to Revitalization

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Rural regions across the United States have faced dramatic changes during the past several decades with the rise of globalization, loss of manufacturing jobs and a persistent brain drain as young people migrate to urban areas. We hear about declining populations, rising poverty rates, and crumbling infrastructure. Yet that picture isn’t entirely accurate. The spirit of innovation and collaboration is alive in an increasing number of rural communities and clusters, leveraging the power of the arts, local food culture, and entrepreneurship to become thriving innovation hubs. In turn, rural innovation is helping to develop new creative economies that are inspiring new investments, attracting and retaining talent, while amplifying community pride and elevating quality of place. This panel will explore rural innovation through the lens of creative placemaking, food hubs and Main Street revitalization, using case studies that speak to each. Audience members will learn from the work of the Citizens Institute on Rural Design, The Levitt Foundation’s AMP program, the National Main Street Center’s small town main streets initiatives, and programs aimed at building food security while supporting broader community development goals. The panelists will provide examples in fulfillment of the following learning objectives: How rural communities can build upon existing assets to spark place-based initiatives in their communities, How a community-led approach to rural innovation can lead to increased resiliency and sustainability while embracing increasingly diverse demographics, How rural communities form partnerships to develop the framework for rural clusters, How to promote and achieve economic innovation and support local food networks in small communities.

avatar for Bridgett Massengill

Bridgett Massengill

President/CEO, Thrive Regional Partnership
avatar for Sharon Yazowski

Sharon Yazowski

Executive Director, Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation
As Executive Director, Sharon provides visionary leadership in fulfilling the Levitt Foundation’s mission. She is the chief spokesperson for the organization, traveling across the country to share the impact of Levitt programs and creative placemaking. Her passionate commitment... Read More →
avatar for Cynthia Nikitin

Cynthia Nikitin

Senior Vice President, Project for Public Spaces
avatar for Lindsey Wallace

Lindsey Wallace

Director of Strategic Projects and Design Services, National Main Street Center

Thursday October 3, 2019 11:00am - 12:15pm EDT
Chattanooga Public Library, Auditorium