SXSW Team’s Guiding Principles: Part II

This blog is written by Jodie Perry, one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County.

Today I am continuing my blog about the guiding principles for our downtown revitalization plan, AKA the #SXSW419 plan.

If you haven’t read my first blog on the topic, I encourage you to do that. In it I highlighted the first two guiding principles: “Downtown is everyone’s neighborhood” and “Big city amenities with small-town feel.”

Now, I will share a little bit more about our other two guiding principles.

Sustainable Change Occurs Incrementally

This principle sounds so temptingly easy but is challenging. The allure of a quick fix can be a powerful driving force, especially when people feel that they have been waiting a long time for things to happen.

But the truth is things are already happening. Our downtown today is vastly different from where it was 10 or 20 years ago. There have been large changes during that time, but most of them have been smaller, consistent improvements.

We want this plan to continue the transformation of downtown. Don’t misread me, this plan will have some big projects, but we need them to be sustainable. So, the plan will not be able to tackle all the big projects simultaneously. It will require businesses, building owners, governments, nonprofits, residents and other stakeholders to partner together to move this vision forward.

Incremental change often seems agonizingly slow, but time presses on and before you know it, you turn around and realize just how much has changed.

Placemaking is Economic Development

My “day job” is running our countywide economic development agencies, the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Richland Community Development Group.

Traditional economic development spends a lot of time working to recruit large businesses to an area as well as helping those already here to grow and expand. We certainly do that (as do the others involved in economic development in our community).

But to recruit people and businesses to an area, they have to want to live there and that is where placemaking comes in. It refers to the community building work that we all do that adds to the quality of life of an area.

Businesses and people are more mobile now than they have ever been. We need to create a community (and I think we are already doing this in many ways) where people choose to live.

By including this principle we’re saying that we believe the work that’s done to revitalize downtown Mansfield is economic development in its own right. It’s also important and worthy of our time, efforts and investment.

There you have it, the four guiding principles for the #SXSW419 plan.

Additionally, we have found a few overlapping themes that seem to be running through our three groups. Someone else will share those in a separate blog post.

What do you think of our principles? Feel free to send me an email at

Thanks for your continued support of this project and our community.

See Part I and other blogs by members of the SXSW Team by visiting