ST. GEORGE — The RISE Business Summit, which took place Wednesday at the Dixie Convention Center, drew more than 450 participants.
And Don Willie, St. George Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said he’s proud of that. After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s event, Willie said he and his team reevaluated what this year’s summit would like like. Then, he led the charge to organize the event, as well as its re-branding.
“It was a massive undertaking,” Willie told St. George News. “In the past, we’ve had 100-120 people attend our annual business summit. Today, we’ve got more than 450 people who have come to listen to our world-class roster of speakers.”
The speakers included successful local businesspeople like Isaac Barlow, CEO of busybusy, Brian McCann, CEO of Intergalactic, and Glenn Price, co-founder and managing partner at Bondir Creative Partners & Brandworks. Price, who worked with a number of marketing and advertising agencies in New York City, came to St. George more than 10 years ago, offered a masterclass “A brand that sticks” for attendees.
Price practiced his presentation in an empty conference room during the day’s first break. In the presentation, Price recounted his journey from New York City to St. George as he cycled through slides that included pictures of burgers, banks, Legos and lingerie, among many others.
“My workshop is about branding, and how it requires you to get your house in order before you start talking about yourself,” Price told St. George News. “You want your brand to reflect who you really are, so that you’ll have the tools to express yourself in specific ways.”
Price said that creativity “doesn’t just happen on its own.”
“It’s about the stages of brand,” he said, “and how you have to build upon your identity. We’re looking at branding through the lens of landscape, where it resides, and how it can really flourish.”
Willie said that he feels blessed to have speakers of Price’s caliber to present to the Summit’s attendees.
“He’s a recognized branding pro,” Willie said. “Our goal is to bring world-class thought leaders together to help our local business owners succeed.”
Sponsors included St. George-based companies like RAM Company, Intergalactic, Zonos, Dixie State University, Vasion and Red Rock Broadcasting, among many others.
A number of small businesses exhibited their services at the event. Jeremiah Jones, CEO and co-founder of dappr, a business consulting firm founded by military veterans, shared a booth with Sagebrush Massage Therapy. They lured attendees to their both with a miniature putting strip, and the offer of a free 10-minute massage.
“We’re excited to be here,” Jones told St. George news, as co-founder Justin Daley sunk a putt on his first try. “And we’re excited to help businesses become better, by being more efficient.”
Speakers covered a broad range of topics, including cultivating change, the future of St. George, and, of course, how successful companies shifted approaches and services during the pandemic.
Willie said their long-term goal for the RISE Summit is to grow the event to 10,000 attendees from across the region, state and nation.
“We want to shine a spotlight on our businesses and share about the great things that are happening in Washington County.”
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