A community needs to have a sense of pride in what it has to offer.
That is the message those attending the regular Yorkton Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday heard from guest speaker Pat Fiacco, former Mayor of Regina.
Fiacco related how he was on an airplane and overheard a conversation between someone from Regina and someone from Toronto talking. The Toronto man mentioned he was headed to Regina for a conference, to which the Regina man asked “why come to Regina ...?”
“I couldn’t believe it ... I never forgot that,” said Fiacco.
Later Fiacco would meet with students and found more news he was not expecting to hear.
“What I was hearing was like a punch in the stomach,” he said, noting 75 per cent of students were not looking at the University of Regina, and most were not looking to stay in Regina, or Saskatchewan. The reason, their parents had instilled in the students there were no opportunities locally.
Fiacco said it made him think of his own parents arriving in Regina in 1957 with no money, but an expectation of the opportunities the city offered.
Fiacco would become Regina Mayor in 2000, and when visiting Rochester, NY, said I love New York signs were all over, adding he came to realize “it’s not about those three words, it’s about a feeling.”
So Fiacco said he came back to Regina with a rather simple plan.
“We needed to copy what New York was doing, but design it for Regina,” he said.
Over the ensuing years an I Love Regina campaign was created through consultation, culminating in an inaugural I Love Regina Day.
“The stage was full of positivity and it was contagious,” said Fiacco, adding it needs to go beyond the slogan. “Words are good but feelings are better,” he said, adding the effort created “a change in the psyche of our city.
“You can’t just have a slogan without backing it up.”
The back-up included Fiacco establishing a Mayor’s Task Force on the Future of Regina, in order to bring various stakeholders to the table to get them moving forward together.
The same general approach can work in Yorkton, suggested Fiacco.
“Yorkton here, you’re a sleeping giant,” he offered, noting the Gallagher Centre an envy of many communities, the Western Development Museum is a draw, there are local golf courses, the city is close to lakes, there is the annual film festival, all positives.
Fiacco then noted the city slogan ‘where good things happen,” which he said can be an attitude if people buy into it.
But, do we in Yorkton do a good job of telling the world about what this city offers, asked Fiacco.
“I don’t have to tell you this but Yorkton has huge potential,” he said, adding “it’s time you start blowing your own horn.
“You need to tell the world about the good things that happen ... You’ve got to tell your story. It’s not bragging. It’s just the truth.”