A re you familiar with the Flint & Genesee Chamber’s “FACES of Flint & Genesee Business” Q&A series? It’s one of the ways that our team regularly highlights the human personas driving local businesses and brands. One thing I look forward to is reading how these businesspeople answer the question, “How would you describe Flint & Genesee to an outsider?”
In a FACES interview with Charles Kuta, for instance, the owner of Ashlor Staffing called attention to our “great museums, colleges, eateries and hospitals.” Courtney Simpson, co-owner of Pop Mod Photo, noted the “supportive community” and “influx of artists, students and entrepreneurs who are making Flint better every day.” Most recently, SGCS CEO Manal Saab described the region as “one of the most underrated communities in Michigan.”
These types of responses can influence opinions about our community. If I were thinking about visiting or moving to a new place, this kind of feedback from locals would be helpful. By highlighting some of our strengths, these leaders are helping contribute to a positive perception of Flint & Genesee – which is key to increasing tourism and attracting new business investment.
That said, you don’t have to be a business owner to be a champion for Flint and Genesee County. I know many individuals who love this community and want to share that enthusiasm with others. They do this through sharing positive stories and promoting the region where they can, whenever they can.
What’s great is that people gravitate toward perspectives like this. In fact, researchers Emilio Ferrara and Zeyao Yang found that while negative posts spread faster on social media, positive posts ultimately reached a larger audience because more users shared them.
While our community has its challenges, there’s no shortage of good news in Flint & Genesee. So let’s focus on that. Next time you see friends from out of town, update them on the reinvestment efforts happening in downtown Flint and the surrounding communities. Tell them about the successes of young people like DeEsmond Lewis Jr., one of just 300 students nationwide to win the prestigious Gates Scholarship this year. Or, take them on a tour of the county so they can see and experience the region for themselves.
If you have a love for the community but aren’t sure where to start, I encourage you to become a Flint & Genesee Certified Tourism Ambassador. The program, offered through the Flint & Genesee Convention & Visitors Bureau, teaches hospitality employees and volunteers how to turn every visitor encounter into a positive experience. It’s also helpful to residents who want to learn about and share the county’s rich history and progress with others.
Again, while things are not perfect, we are moving the region forward and have so much to be proud of in Flint and Genesee County – let’s share that story with the rest of the region, state and world.
Tim Herman is CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.