Sumner, IA, February 3, 2011

This years featured speaker at the Commercial Club annual meeting was Bert Stitt

Bert's message included challenging Sumner to determine what that "one thing" would be that if done well, would mean success for the entire community

"Building Community Pride: Sumner" was the theme chosen by the Sumner Commercial Club for the year, and there was no better way to accent its unveiling than with a fitting recognition of the many building projects embarked upon in the past year. …

The night's featured speaker, Bert Stitt of Bert Stitt and Associates, Madison, Wis., opened with a thought provoking quote: "Everybody wants the community to work; a precious few want to do the work."

Stitt stated that in order to increase community pride, Sumner must pay attention to the process. …

He asked the audience to write down their bold ideas for the future of Sumner and what they felt could catapult it to become a 'Star City' in 2010.

The ideas were many and ranged across the board, but there were a few recurring themes. They were: "all storefronts filled and active" and "fill the industrial park." Housing projects was another big item presented by the crowd.

Attracting young families from other areas and shoppers from other communities were two thoughts, presented by Stitt that would be more effective than a 'buy local' campaign. "What a 'buy local' program is, is a guilt trip for community members." Said Stitt. "I invite each of you store owners to sort through the checks in your registers and take out all of the out-of-town checks. Mail those back to those people with a note that says, 'Sorry, I don't want your money, you need to spend that in your own community,.'

"Attracting those from outside the community to shop or to live would be more effective."

He invited all to feel the spiritual importance of endowing the community. "This is not about you." He said. "This is about what you are leaving behind for future generations." He recommended developing a Sumner community foundation similar to what Bremer County has.

With the ideas presented by the crowd, Stitt instructed them to envision doing those things and doing them perfectly. "The change you want is the change you start with." He added.

Earlier Monday, Stitt took a driving tour of the community to get a first-impression look. While he was impressed with the health of the downtown area, he felt the community approaches, particularly on the western edge of Sumner, needed help to make the town more aesthetically appealing.

He recommended showing gratitude to the people who do the work to make Sumner successful. … community members step forward – 'those precious few' – who often do so without receiving recognition.

Prior to Stitt's presentation, the Commercial Club did just that … (with a full slate of awards.)