On Route 66 News recently, evaluation of a newspaper article pertaining to Springfield, Missouri captured my attention. This feature could have easily been written about Kingman and countless other communities along the Route 66 corridor between Santa Monica and Chicago.
More often than not, communities as well as individuals pursue all manner of perceived opportunities with such an intent focus that they don’t hear opportunity knocking at the door with a battering ram. Such is the case with many of the villages, cities, and towns located along the old double six.
Yes, tourism in any guise is a very poor foundation for the building of a strong economy in any community. If, however, you can utilize the unique attributes of a community to transform it into a destination, in the process you create a community where people want to live, to open businesses, and to raise families.Time and again I have had opportunity to address this topic in lectures and presentations. In each instance I make it quite clear that that is not to be confused with using Disneyland as a template for development or renovation. The two fold key to successfully transforming a community into a destination where people want to live is to create opportunity for authentic experiences and to highlight the natural as well as historic attributes that make it different from any other place. This is especially true in regard to harnessing the Route 66 renaissance as a catalyst for development.Now, lets expand on this concept. Acclaimed author and historian Michael Wallis aptly describes Route 66 as a linear community. From that perspective the towns and cities, large and small, along the Route 66 corridor are merely unique, and often quirky neighborhoods in that community. Okay, nothing new in this concept. On numerous occasions I have used this analogy as have numerous Route 66 aficionados.However, the fact that in recent months, for the first time since the U.S. Highway 66 Association closed its doors and the Route 66 renaissance began, this perception is beginning to sweep through the Route 66 community at all levels is both exciting and new. Manifestations of this developing perception occurred at the conference last November in Anaheim. It is happening at the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman where representatives from state and international Route 66 associations, and various organizations representing the Route 66 community are coming together to share ideas and to develop cooperative partnerships. The stage is being set. Soon the pageant that will be the storied old roads centennial will begin to unfold.