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Rural Prosperity Summit 2022

Join us for the Rural Prosperity Summit on Monday, October 17th from 10:00am – 2:30pm, to kick off the 2022 Kansas Tourism Conference!


10:00 -10:15
Office of Rural Prosperity, KS Tourism
and TIAK Welcome
10:15 –11:00
Melissa Bond, Univ. KentuckyUSDA Placemaking Initiatives: Aligning small communities with projects that capitalize on their strengths.
11:00 – 12:00pmPanel moderated by:
Marci Penner
Luke Mahin
Jerrod McCartney
Beth Barlow
Paul Cloutier
Tammy Bruckerhoff
Rural Community Spotlight:
Hear from representatives from several thriving rural communities on what’s going on and what is going well, being a welcoming community, and revitalizing your rural community through tourism.
Rural communities featured are: Courtland and Humboldt, KS, Red Cloud, NE, and Hermann, MO.
12:00 – 12:30
Lunch provided 
12:30 – 1:30
Keynote – Jeff Siegler – Revitalize or DieCivic Pride & Civic Apathy
1:30 – 2:00Announcement and Intro of Rural Champion Communities & Champions- Trisha Purdon & Kerri FallettiIntroduction to Rural Champions
& Projects
2:00 – 2:30Power Up Power Session – MarciAttendees under 40:
Should community prosperity have some swagger to it?
2:00 – 2:30
Rural Champions Kick-off – KerriGetting the Rural Champions launched

Rural Prosperity Summit Keynote Speaker: Jeff Siegler

Revitalize or DieCivic Pride & Civic Apathy

Thousands of communities have been devastated by the effects of apathy and unless we do something drastic, the problem is only going to get worse. Apathy destroys everything it touches and cannot be mitigated with planning or money. Residents’ lack of care and concern cannot be fixed by continuing down the same path. We have to take a new approach and help restore people’s relationship to their town. Only in fostering a sense of civic pride, can we begin to beat back the effects of apathy. We have to bring people together, restore beauty, foster affection and give people more meaning. By taking a small scale, simple and incremental approach, we can begin to replace apathy with pride. The key is getting to work. There is no silver bullet needed and no one is going to come along and fix it for us. We simply have to do our part, every resident, every day, taking part in making the community just a little bit better. When everyone participates, we can all have something truly special, a community we can be proud of.

Jeff Siegler
      Jeff has assisted hundreds of communities with their revitalization, economic sustainability, and community development over the course of his career. Utilizing a background in urban planning, downtown district management, revitalization, real estate, economics and organizational development, his diverse background and expertise lends a unique vantage point for addressing community concerns.   What Jeff lacks in patience and eloquence, he makes up for in passion and honesty. He believes revitalizing communities is the most important work we can do. Revitalization has the power to transform people’s lives by fostering a stronger sense of community. Revitalization enhances quality of life, it provides people with more enriching experiences, and Jeff has dedicated himself to killing apathy- one town at a time.  


Marci Penner

Marci Penner is the executive director of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation, and author, facilitator, promoter and supporter of rural Kansas.  Marci and her dad, Mil Penner, founded the 501c3 non-profit in 1993 to preserve and sustain rural culture.

Projects range from writing Kansas guidebooks to organizing and facilitating statewide conferences. Marci believes in the relevance of peer-to-peer training, the energy of collective brilliance, the involvement of every age group, and the power of the network.

Marci Penner
   Marci will be moderator of the panel and host of the PowerUp Power session. In this session, those under 40 will go over how communities can add some swagger to shape their towns! What kind of stamp do you want to place on your town? What do YOU need to be happy?  What do you see around you that needs your touch? Let’s have a messy session about creating rural swagger. Come ready to voice your ideas. 

Melissa Bond

Melissa Bond is the Community Arts Extension Program Leader for the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

Melissa also oversees the Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK)’s First Impressions program, the Creative Economy program, arts partnerships with other colleges within UK and other universities across the country, and arts-based professional development offerings for Extension Agents. Most recently, Melissa was the project director for the Rural America Placemaking Toolkit and the Placemaking in Small & Rural Communities Conference, a partnership with USDA Rural Development to provide access to placemaking resources, programs, and information for rural communities across states, tribal nations, and territories.

Melissa Bond
USDA Placemaking Initiatives
The Rural America Placemaking Toolkit is a resource guide to showcase a variety of placemaking activities, projects, and success stories across rural America. This digital toolkit was created in partnership with USDA Rural Development and aligns small communities’ capacity with projects that capitalize on their strengths and spark inspiration, excitement, and momentum.

Summit Panelists

Luke Mahin

Luke Mahin is a Co-Owner of Irrigation Ales with his wife Jennifer in Courtland, Kansas (pop. 294) which started opened February of 2022. Luke is “Rural by Choice” and returned home after graduating from FHSU with a Communications Degree in 2010. Professionally Luke served as the Republic County Economic Development director for eight years and worked to strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystem and continues to serve on the Republic County Community Foundation. Personally, he has been involved with the Courtland Fun Day committee, Courtland Arts Council, and helped created the Courtland Fermentation Club.

Luke Mahin
Jerrod McCartney

McCartney was hired as the Heritage Tourism Development Director in Red Cloud, NE in 2015. McCartney’s position is the result of a collaboration between the National Willa Cather Center, the Red Cloud Community Fund, the Nebraska Community Foundation, the City of Red Cloud, and the Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce–all of whom recognized the need for an economic development professional who focused on developing the community’s unique cultural heritage tourism assets. McCartney holds a bachelor’s degree from Hastings College, a master’s degree from Kansas State University, and completed his PhD coursework at the University of Oklahoma. Born and raised in Red Cloud, McCartney has family roots in Webster County, NE that stretch back to the original homestead claim made by Mary Holcomb near Walnut Creek southwest of Inavale, NE. McCartney is also the Chair of the Red Cloud Community Fund, President of the Red Cloud Hotel, LLC board, and past President of the Nebraska Travel Association. McCartney is hopelessly enamored with his wife Rachel and daughter Louise. He is also a dedicated follower of the New York Mets, Nebraska sports and Tennessee Titans–he spends his spare time making “best of” lists about music, movies, and television. He coaches girl’s youth soccer and basketball as well.

Jerrod McCartney

Red Cloud is a community of just under 1,000 residents located in South Central Nebraska within the rolling hills and sharp ridge crests of the Republican River Valley. Red Cloud’s unique sense of place provides a remarkable development opportunity for transformative community change. Red Cloud was home to novelist Willa Cather and has significant heritage tourism assets and opportunities that come from being “the most famous little town in America.” While significant heritage tourism development has occurred, Red Cloud is at an important tipping point where smart and aggressive investment in heritage tourism is significantly increasing the economic and cultural impact of the community while also shaping a more diverse and attractive place for 21st Century living.

The community of Red Cloud, including the Red Cloud Community Fund/Nebraska Community Foundation, the Willa Cather Foundation, the Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Red Cloud and others have committed to developing Red Cloud’s heritage tourism sector. These groups have formed the Heritage Tourism Development Advisory Committee to assist and implement the Heritage Tourism Action Plan. The Heritage Tourism Development Advisory Committee provides recommendations and assistance to ensure the success of the Director. This position reports to the Executive Director of the Willa Cather Foundation and is employed by the Willa Cather Foundation.

More pointedly, Red Cloud is attempting to use tourism to improve its dining, lodging, and retail options for visitors and to improve the livability of the community by improving the look and feel of its downtown. While the process all started in 2003 with the restoration of the Red Cloud Opera House into a performing arts center and headquarters for the Cather Foundation, the commitment to focus on tourism started around 2014 with the Moon Block Project which resulted in the rehabilitation of decaying downtown buildings into the $7.1 million National Willa Cather Center (NWCC). NWCC includes the Opera House as well as 5 retail bay spaces, 2nd level apartments, and an archive and research center. In 2021-22, construction began on several buildings downtown, including the Potter Block Project which will result in the adaptive reuse of a dilapidated downtown building on the verge of collapse into a 28-room boutique hotel. Heritage Tourism has also been the driving force behind getting the City of Red Cloud to be more active and pursue Downtown Revitalization CDGB funding and begin plans for a recreation trail. All of this momentum is encouraging individuals and small business owners to create businesses that will cater to the needs of visitors. The Cather Foundation is also in the midst of restoring 6 of its historic sites, including the Cather Childhood Home.

Paul Cloutier

Paul Cloutier is a designer and entrepreneur who is focused on rebuilding local economies and creating impactful destinations. After 25 years in the design industry, Paul moved back home to Kansas to help found A Bolder Humboldt a development organization that is revitalizing Humboldt Kansas, population 2000. We are creating the town we want to live in, and working hard to show young creative ambitious people that there are opportunities in rural America.

Paul Cloutier

A Bolder Humboldt has a portfolio of projects that include Base Camp, a destination glamping resort, The Bailey Hotel, a 5 room boutique hotel, HoneyBee Bruncherie a world class brunch spot, Revival Music Hall a 200 seat concert venue, The Hitching Post a modern honky tonk, Perrenoud’s cocktail lounge a craft cocktail destination, Union Works Brewery a 160 seat restaurant, and many more. All of this has been built with the goal of creating the town we want to live in, and to help make the case for folks to come back home. We see people from all over the wold come visit here and our efforts have been featured as one of the New York Times 52 Places to Visit in 2022, The Kansas City Star, and NPR.

Tammy Bruckerhoff

Tammy has been the tourism and economic development director for the City of Hermann for over four years. Tammy’s vision was to have a Visit Hermann Tourism Team, who would focus their efforts on marketing Hermann as a tourism destination. In four years, she and her teammates have re-branded the Visit Hermann program, seen an increase in lodging tax revenues, and increased staff from one full-time employee to 2 full-time employees, 3 part-time employees, and 3 contractors. The Visit Hermann Tourism Team has developed the Visit Hermann Partnership Program, launched 2 new websites for the brand, and developed the brand’s own visitor guide, the Willkommen.

Tammy Bruckerhoff

Visit Hermann had a solid foundation of promoting Hermann as a tourism destination. Increased use of social media, use of videos to educate potential visitors about Hermann, and building relationships with media partners has been key to advancing tourism in Hermann. Additionally, branded billboards, launching a blog and re-launching the e-newsletter, have also been important components to increasing tourism in the Hermann area. The variety of businesses and attractions launching in Hermann has been a true asset to increasing tourism in the Hermann region.

Hotel Information

Wichita Marriott
9100 Corporate Hills Drive
Wichita, Kansas 67207
(316) 651-0333
Room rate: $128/night plus tax
Last day to book: Monday, September 26, 2022

Booking Link: 
Click here
Group Name: Kansas Tourism Conference

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