In today's competitive business landscape, fostering collaboration and community engagement can often be overlooked. However, Alexa Sheldon, the Executive Director of the Aberdeen Downtown Association, has taken a different approach. With her unique perspective and commitment to partnerships, Sheldon has brought about positive change and set an example for businesses in Aberdeen, a small town in South Dakota.
In her role, Sheldon emphasizes the importance of serving as a mechanism for implementing community based marketing, programs, events, and projects. By focusing on the collective benefit of all businesses within the area, the Aberdeen Downtown Association creates a vibrant and attractive environment for visitors and locals alike. “I stepped into my role six months ago bringing my past habit of packing as many partnerships as I can into every project or event that I do, because I know we all win. Aberdeen is heard more loudly when more of our organizations and businesses band together,” said Sheldon.
After moving back to South Dakota and to take on this role, she quickly learned how business strategy in smaller Midwestern communities is drastically different than in the metropolitan areas in Minnesota. Sheldon firmly believes that collaboration is the key to success. Rather than competing individually, businesses face the geographical hurdle of attracting people to the town itself. This mindset shift encourages businesses to collaborate and promote the city as a whole, emphasizing the value of Aberdeen as a destination. This approach creates a supportive environment where everyone benefits from the overall growth and success of the community.
“I know this is a Marvel Superhero quote, but I think about this every day: ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ If you have the means to lift up those in need, do. If you have room at your table and see someone struggling, invite them to sit,” said Sheldon. She firmly believes the "we are all in this together" mindset fosters healthier businesses and a thriving economy.
Staying connected to the community and understanding its needs is vital for any business. Sheldon highlights the importance of being aware of current community events, defining your brand's voice and personality, and giving back. “The charities, partnerships, and efforts your business prioritizes defines your identity and affects every layer of your ‘What’, ‘How’, and ‘Why’ ethos,” says Sheldon. By aligning your business with relevant causes and prioritizing community involvement, you strengthen your brand and build customer loyalty.
As the landscape of business continues to evolve, it is crucial to recognize the value of building relationships, supporting one another, and contributing to the greater good. Alexa Sheldon's approach serves as a beacon of inspiration for businesses, not just in rural communities, but anywhere striving for success through unity.