By Paul Schmitt
A mayor from a small town in Erwin, Tennessee has a little advice on how Door and Kewaunee Counties can attract millennials and revitalize their communities. Erwin, a town of just over 6,000 people, had just completed a $3 million dollar renovation of their downtown district in 2012 when railroad and other jobs were lost in the area. Mayor Doris Hensley and city officials called for an open house meeting two years ago with younger residents to see what they would like to see done in the community. Hensley says the younger generation has stepped in and stepped up to have an impact.
About 40 Millennials joined a group after the initial meeting and planned festivals, a farmers market and actively attracted new businesses to Erwin, according to Hensley. Erwin now holds an Elephant Revival Festival every year to honor a circus elephant named Mary who was publically executed in 1916 after killing her trainer in a parade. All proceeds go towards an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. Hensley says that is another example of a successful “outside-the-box” idea implemented by the millennial group that was formed in 2015.
(photo of downtown Erwin, Tennessee by Wikipedia)