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The Summer Spark Challenge

Four Days, One Hour Per Day, featuring Four Speakers Creating Sparks

Join us July 27-30, 2021, at 10 a.m. (CST) for a virtual, summer event and hear awesome stories from small town economic developers past and present, city planners, authors, mayors and so much more.

These speakers have worn many hats, and they have a lot of knowledge to share with us. They will be sharing their most impactful projects from their communities as well as sharing fresh new ideas. These are projects and ideas that can be replicated in your community. And, there will be plenty of time for Q&A.

Fill your toolbox with programs that actually work in any community. Leave ignited to start something great in your town. 

Speaker Line Up

Dan Taylor

Economic Development Catalyst. Dan helps economies transform. He helps communities & businesses create a vision, take action and transform from where they are to where they want to be for personal and economic benefit. Dan currently hosts the EcDev Network and serves the community of Innisfil, Ontario, Canada.

Dave Byerly 

Dave has been disrupting and improving business processes for 30 years. He has served 20 years in C-level leadership roles. He has over 20 years of experience leading non-profit organizations focused in job/wealth creation, business/industry advocacy, business consulting and economic strategy. While his title has changed, he is still helping to create wealth in small communities. 

ILana Preuss

ILana recently published Recast Your City, How to Save your City with Small-Scale Manufacturing. Her commitment is to apply her expertise in smart growth, community reinvestment, real estate analysis, and stakeholder engagement to create more opportunity for more people in more places and to create strong, inclusive, and resilient economies.

Doug Griffiths

Doug is the author of 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, a no-nonsense, practical approach to community building.

"Everything I do is for the sake of building stronger communities. I believe communities are the foundation on which we build stronger families, stronger businesses, and stronger nations. Build strong communities, and success will follow."

Hi, I'm Jimi, Your Host

I have been doing economic development for almost 18 years in small communities in Texas. I am passionate about saving and developing small communities. 

Every community needs someone driving development. If you aren’t the one doing it, who will? But, rural practitioners are becoming fewer and fewer. Communities are left with no one moving the needle of progress.  

That is why I developed The Rural Spark. My hope is to build up practitioners, offer tools for your toolbox and some mindset shifts to help you overcome some of the tough things we face while serving the public. I hope you will join me in the Summer Spark Challenge. 

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