Leadership Lafayette works on signage, patronage

Members of Leadership Lafayette’s 2014 class have planned three projects to create new signage that will welcome visitors to the county, enhance the aesthetics of downtown Oxford, and give customers new incentives to patronize local businesses.

Leadership Lafayette is a series of training sessions and activities designed for emerging community leaders and sponsored by the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce. The program aims to assure continuity of leadership and facilitate more effective contributions by existing leaders.

One team in this year’s cohort is sponsoring new Lafayette County welcome signs on Highway 6/278 at the Panola and Pontotoc County lines.


Dawn Boutwell, Leadership Lafayette

“They are going to say ‘Lafayette County: Greatness happens here,’” said Dawn Boutwell, the team’s leader. “They’ll also have the year the county was established, 1836.”

The idea mirrors a Leadership Holmes project that Boutwell witnessed in her former hometown of Lexington. The two signs will measure eight feet tall by 16 feet wide and will cost some $5,000 each.

“We’re trying to get county support, city support and individual support,” she said. “We’re going to individual businesses, and we’ll solicit individuals as well.”

A second project is the Lafayette-Oxford Chamber (LOC) card, via which Chamber members will offer discounts, loyalty rewards and other special offers to area residents over a year’s time. Angela Barlow heads that team, which labels itself “GLO – Growing Lafayette/Oxford.” Promotion examples include free dessert with meal purchase, discounts on regular-price items and gifts or discounts for repeat purchases.

“This will work for restaurants, retail, financial institutions or any other business with a Chamber membership,” Barlow said. “And it’s completely free to participating businesses.”

Area residents will be able to buy the $20 card, beginning June 1, from team members or through the Chamber office, and offers will extend until next spring.

“A number of chambers across the United States have such cards in place,” Barlow said. “Hopefully, if it’s a success here this year, we’ll allow it to be used by another Leadership Lafayette team next year or by the Chamber itself.”

After expenses of printing and promotion, profits will provide a little seed money for a 2015 Leadership Lafayette project team, and the remainder will go to The Pantry, Oxford’s community food ministry.

Another Leadership Lafayette team aims to upgrade signage on several streets in downtown Oxford, employing cast-metal architectural uprights for street-name and traffic signs.

“The Square is so beautiful and we noticed the signage was not up to the standards of other design elements,” said team leader Debbie Swan. “We wanted it to look something like Savannah, where they have beautiful signage.”

Phase 1 of the “Upgrade Uptown” project aims at replacing the plain sign poles on or near the Square on Jackson and Van Buren Avenues, along with Lamar Boulevard. Depending on the team’s fundraising success, others would be upgraded on North and South 14th Street and at Jefferson Avenue and Lamar Boulevard. Total cost of the project is estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.

In addition to completing visionary community service projects, Leadership Lafayette participants attend monthly tours, seminars and classes designed to familiarize them with the community, its resources and its challenges, as well as insights into what they can offer the community.

Sessions range from time management and team building to overviews of local government, healthcare, education, economic development, criminal justice and other issues.


About Errol Castens

I'm a news reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal and the Oxford Citizen. Focusing on Oxford and Lafayette County, I've been a part of the L-O-U community since 1991.