Downtown Huntsville was thrilled to host the inaugural International Downtown Association Place Branding and Placemaking Summit where we welcomed Downtown experts from over 30 different states to the Rocket City Center. The three-day event featured thought-provoking presentations, interactive sessions, and some really quirky and interesting hospitality experiences. For this week’s Downtown Explorer blog, we offer a quick recap and wrap-up from three days of incredible conversations.
As our guests arrived at Huntsville International Airport, they were greeted with “Welcomes” on the airport jumbotron and other locations like these fun floor clings created by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Our first official activity started with a Secret Art Walking Tour through Downtown that, while pretty wet, featured our eclectic “secret art” throughout the city center.
Fortunately, the weather cleared for a kick-off reception that featured a mini Big Spring Crush wine, bourbon and wild game tasting followed by a “field trip back to school” for the opening reception experience. Event guests were transported via school bus to Campus 805 where their “Report Cards” allowed them to sample a variety of food and beverage both on and off campus. Add in some live music from the Silvery Moon Band and it was a wonderful way to begin the event.
Meeting at the beautiful new AC Hotel in Downtown Huntsville overlooking Big Spring Park, event guests learned from Master Talks (essentially 12-minute keynotes) along with a variety of sessions focusing on best practices and innovative strategies for place branding and placemaking in walkable settings.
Thanks to all of our presenters for bringing fantastic new ideas and conversations to these important topics
In addition to great content, our second day featured a mini Food Truck Rally in Big Spring Park East, coffee breaks featuring the Downtown Huntsville Craft Coffee Trail stops and morning jogs and yoga in the city center.
An amazing second day wrapped up with a special IDA Block Party along Clinton Row where event guests mingled with locals and experienced great live music, local shopping plus food and beverages, some axe-throwing, retro arcade gaming and the return of Downtown Huntsville Ink screen printing t-shirts. Event guests lingered late into the evening throughout the many food and beverage options in Downtown Huntsville including an evening wrap-up at Green Bus Brewing.
As our guests departed (and some even extended their stays because they were having so much fun), we officially concluded the event with a trolley tour of three “best in class” adaptive re-use projects in the Downtown area including Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, Stovehouse and Campus 805. Almost every participant remarked how cool it would be to have each of these in their own city centers.
When we first began to plan this event, we had high expectations with a great National Planning Committee, Local Host Committee, and the incredible IDA Team plus our amazing DHI Staff. We can now confidently say that even these high expectations were exceeded by everyone as the first ever International Downtown Association Place Branding and Placemaking Summit was a resounding success and will be an important event we remember in Downtown Huntsville for years to come.
A big thanks to everyone who made this great event happen!