by Deron Johnston
The Rural Summit is a unique, community-led event taking place at the campus of the former Kemptville College on April 12 and 13. Despite being focused on rural economic development, it’s not being organized by the Municipality of North Grenville, or by any other government or even non-governmental organization. It is a truly community-driven event. That means our small group of hard-working, passionate people (the Rural Summit Organizing Committee) are tasked with organizing the many facets of this community attraction. Despite those considerable efforts, we need to multiply our efforts and resources through the creation of partnerships with other individuals, organizations, businesses and our local municipal government.
Recently, the Executive Director of the Old Town Kemptville Business Improvement Area (BIA) made a brief presentation to their Board of Management about how the BIA could become involved in the Rural Summit, even with no money available to become a sponsor. What was proposed was that, instead of money, the Board could choose to donate the paid time of their Executive Director to join the Rural Summit Organizing Committee. This in-kind partnership has already paid considerable dividends to the Organizing Committee in a very short period of time.
In addition, the Organizing Committee wanted to encourage attendees of the Summit to visit local businesses while they’re here, to increase the economic activity generated by the event. So, the Chair of the Organizing Committee has made presentations to the BIA and the North Grenville Chamber of Commerce in order to seek their input as to how the Rural Summit could attract people to their member businesses. Both groups appear to have decided to solicit their members in an effort to offer visitors to the Summit a series of special offers, discounts and exclusive promotions. This will not only mean more sales for their members, but will also add value, and make it more enticing to attend the Summit itself. This appears to be an ideal situation, where both the event and the participating partners benefit from the partnership. More meetings are being arranged with other organizations in the coming weeks.
Marketing is one of the keys to success for any business, organization or event. The Rural Summit is no exception to that. Our ability to reach potential partners, presenters, attendees and volunteers is critical to our success. We are very fortunate that the North Grenville Times has allowed us the opportunity to partner with them to become our print media partners for the Rural Summit. They have published all of the content that we have provided to them so far, both in their print edition and on their website at www.ngtimes.ca.
We are also working hard to produce engaging content for our social media accounts in order to reach a wider audience throughout the region. We’ve had support from our local radio station and several other newspapers from across Eastern Ontario, who have either printed our press release, or shared our social media content with their online followers. We have also been featured in several newsletters, including the monthly newsletter from Just Food in Ottawa (www.justfood.ca) and the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville’s Economic Development newsletter. We are so grateful for the contributions of everyone.
The weekend that the Summit is taking place is going to be quite a busy weekend for the Kemptville area. Not only is the Summit happening on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, but there is another special event happening on Sunday, April 14. The Sustainability Fair and Market, hosted by local community organization Sustainable North Grenville, is in its 12th year and includes the biggest electric vehicle show between Toronto and Montreal. By partnering with, and sharing information about other events like the Sustainability Fair, each group can reach more new potential participants. It also creates opportunities to save resources by combining efforts and working together on certain things, or possibly combining events to form a bigger one.
Just like Blanche relying “on the kindness of strangers”, the Rural Summit must also leverage the new relationships that we have, in order to create the kind of partnerships that will provide benefits to both parties. One of the favourite sayings of committee members is that “we’re here to create win-win situations for everyone”. After all, isn’t that what a community-led event should be all about?
For more information about how you can get involved in the Rural Summit as a partner, or to register to attend, go to our website www.ruralsummit.ca, email us at [email protected], or follow our Facebook page “Rural Summit”.