Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Shop the Region

One of the key drivers of attitude in a community or region is the local newspaper. Some take an approach of “if it bleeds, it leads” and try to sensationalize controversy. Others still report those negative and sensational stories, but do so further back in the paper. A few others go the step further to take a very proactive role in helping to positively shape their community and region for the better. I’ve run into many in my travels around the country.

I was with one such newspaper publisher in Carbondale, IL, where I was taking part in their innovative quarterly Southern Illinois Community Leader’s Breakfast, which brings together communities from throughout the broad expanse of southern Illinois. Dennis DeRossett set the breakfasts up four years ago and they’ve grown into a Who’s Who of Southern IL.

I’ve known Dennis for about ten years, dating back to a short period of time when he was publisher of our local newspaper. He’s stayed in touch and follows where I’m speaking. I’ve been amazed at the number of times that he has been a publisher in one of the towns that I’m going to visit, calling me with tips on what and whom to see when I’m there touring and speaking.

A particular passion of Dennis’ this year is his “Shop Southern Illinois” this Christmas season. The Southern Illinoisan Newspaper has taken it on as a cause and Dennis spoke of it at the Community Leader’s Breakfast, “We need to help promote the unique things that each of us has in our communities and shop where we live rather than just automatically driving to the big city to do our shopping. We’ve got some very unique and wonderful shops scattered throughout southern Illinois.”

And, Dennis is putting his money where his mouth is, giving away $5,000 in shopping money to be spent in the region.

We need more Dennis DeRossetts in this world.

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