May is usually a vibrant month when we would honor ACE communities being designated and recertified and when many of us would be attending the Your Town Alabama workshop. These events always reinvigorate me and reinforce why I love to work with communities. Instead I have learned how to meet virtually, watched a lot of webinars and had many long phone conversations. I know we are all getting used to the new normal and working on how to be most effective in helping our towns and citizens. We will have the opportunity to recognize our communities at the shortened League of Municipalities Annual Conference planned for July 22-23 in Montgomery. We are also planning the annual ACE Reunion meeting with a new twist. ACE, Your Town Alabama, Design Alabama, and Main Street Alabama are collaborating on a one-day workshop in Jasper on September 17. “Community Seeds: Greening Your Community” will focus on developing and enhancing outdoor recreation and natural areas. The program will include information on building an outdoor recreation economy. It will also focus on the economic and health benefits with experts presenting on panels and sharing state case studies. Another area we plan to cover is the significant impact that the COVID pandemic is having on policies and practices for using public recreation areas. These upcoming meetings will follow all recommended social distancing and sanitary practices in place at time of the meetings.
If you haven’t seen the newly designed ACE website check it out and let us know what you think! www.alabamacommunitiesofexcellence.org. We are working with the ACE Local Coordinators to update the information on local attractions and images. We’re also encouraging towns to build a robust TripAdvisor site to help showcase community businesses and attractions. When we begin to bounce back from the pandemic, we want ACE towns to be in the best position to recruit businesses and residents. If you want a good example of a community TripAdvisor page, look at what Foley has provided. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g30531-Foley_Alabama-Vacations.html
I am honored to serve as the new Executive Director of Alabama Communities of Excellence. I appreciate all of the support from the Board members and Local Coordinators and other community leaders. I can’t say enough about how helpful Sidney has been during this transition. As our towns and world adjust to the Covid-19 response, ACE will work to be a resource for our communities.
The ACE Board and Associates Council members are all exploring how their work needs to adjust during this time, how we will work in communities, and how we can help them adjust as well. I look forward to working together to help our communities plan, grow and prosper.