Mayor Stimpson invites citizens to attend Tourism Town Hall and I answer

Mayor Stimpson invites citizens to attend Tourism Town Hall and I answer — on Friday, February 27, 2015, 9 am — 11:30 am at the Mobile Convention Center. Admission is free.

February 26, 2015


Mobile’s lack of tourism is really a reflection of the city’s quality of life offered to its residents, the attitudes and the narrow thinking of its old residents. Much damage was done to Mobile’s downtown and psyche following the closure of Brookley Field Air Force Base, in 1969. Homes and buildings were destroyed and roads widened in the name of progress and urban renewal. The progress never came. The city’s main drag, Government Street, bears the scars from that era. Its home to a mixture of historic, new, as well as, unsightly buildings beginning at the tunnel and going west to Houston Street all under the canopy of our majestic live oaks.

Government Street is home to an abandoned tire center, a motel by the hour, fast food restaurants, a corner grocery and a national chain drugstore at Government and Broad Streets. The front of McDonald’s looks like a bus terminal. At the corner of Broad and Dauphin Streets, the former American Red Cross is neither historic nor sightly. It needs to go. The antebellum homes lining Government Street look lifeless and the only runners on their sidewalks are lawyers at lunchtime. If you want to make Mobile a great place to visit then you have to make it a great place to live.

There are two types of ideas those that hit the bull’s eye and solve the problem and those that try to solve symptoms. Understanding the city’s problems is the key to being successful or failing. Mobile has built a sting of pearls in an attempt to address symptoms while missing the entire target. I’ve suggested to you that we put a college in downtown Mobile, which brings new residents to the area to go to school, work, live and play. That’s gotten no traction. I also mentioned putting artists and musicians on the streets to work and that hasn’t gone anywhere. On my third try, I put together a petition of 644 Mobilians and area residents who support moving the city’s airport back to Brookley Field. For whatever reason, you don’t support it and worse you completely ignore another man’s effort. You’ve never explained why.

Well, both, our residents and our tourists fly. In our area, we have a choice of three airports to get our destination and they have three choices to get to our beaches. That’s a reality. Mobile isn’t controlling a thing. The city has forfeited all the revenue and tax revenue to Pensacola among those living in Baldwin County. Mobilians are traveling to Gulfport and Pensacola to fly over Mobile. As mayor, you seem to show no interest in curbing this problem.

Too many people and too many of our politicians don’t live in reality and thus they’re always frustrated with the existence of various problems. Great leaders know how to solve problems, they know how to find solutions in, both, their personal lives and at work. Millionaires don’t necessarily make for good politicians just look at our presidential hopefuls and much of Congress. Most are insulated by their money and influence and thus they’re disconnected from reality and the problems of their constituents. You continue to come off this way.

Recently, I sent to you a publication titled “How to make a city great” by McKinsey & Company rather than hire them or just simply see what Mobilians can come up with, first, you chose to bring in this panel of executives who titles demonstrate little or no expertise on Mobile — on what this city has to offer, as well as, what’s missing from Mobile that needs to be built. It looks like another wasted opportunity as “the experts” hog the discussion time and Mobilians are forced to sit and listen. I guess from your perch listening to the average Mobilian who just might know a thing or two about this city is too humbling. So far, I’ve struck out with you. It’s very dispiriting to share an idea with you, the mayor, only to get the silent treatment, in return. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to stop me for coming up with yet another one and sharing it.

Here’s another idea — For every convention booked at the Mobile Convention Center, why not include a Jimmy Buffett-style or an island-escapism concert using a cover band at the Saenger Theater playing on his local roots and differentiating Mobile from other mid-size convention cities to get repeat business. When I see conventioneers in a group walking up Dauphin Street, I can only cringe wondering where are they going.

Participating panelists will be:

Michael Gehrisch, President and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International
John Graham, President and CEO of American Society of Association Executives
Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of Professional Convention Management Association
Peter Pantuso, President and CEO of the American Bus Association
Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of Meeting Professionals International

Ted Burnett
500 Lincoln St. B-105
Daphne, AL 36526 USA
C: 251-709-0280

Question everything.

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