Years ago I attended a seminar where the speaker talked about vision.  He didn’t talk about the things we wish for, dreams we hope might come true some day.  Vision is bigger.  It is an ideal that settles itself in your heart, in the depths of your being.  It contours how you see your tomorrows.  Though it does not yet exist, it shapes your goals and actions.

He posited three phases to the vision process.  The first phase is that moment when the vision is born.  You see it in your mind’s eye.  It takes hold and begins to breathe within you.  Your actions begin moving toward it.  You research, seek counsel, plan budgets and seek the perfect location.

Then comes phase two, the death of the vision.  Everything you thought was falling right into place comes unraveled.  Sponsor interest wanes.  Investors back off.  Someone else snatches that perfect location.  A financial crisis sabotages the budget.  If you’ve ever been captured by a vision, you know what I’m talking about.  How it wrenches the heart to set that vision aside.

Finally when you’ve moved on, and the vision is a mere nagging whisper of what might have been, phase three drops in your lap:  fulfillment of the vision.  Suddenly, circumstances change.  The vision stands up tall and boldly announces, “It’s not over.  We are not done here.  I will be!”

Since the Leadership Denton class of 2012 presented their project for a Denton Visitor/Welcome Center, the CVB staff has lived these phases exactly as the speaker outlined them.  We took on Leadership’s plan without a doubt it would happen.  We’ve been oh-so-close more than once to the seemingly perfect place and partners just to watch the plan crumble for different reasons in each surely perfect scenario.

I’m a firm believer that when things don’t work out, there’s a reason.  Now, looking back over the past three years, we see clearly what we were waiting for through the death of the vision phase:  the right timing, the right place and the right players. Today, finally, we are in phase three, jubilantly guiding the welcome center vision’s fulfillment.

Since its inception, the welcome center project has been positive, something all of us, citizens and leadership alike, wanted to happen.  It’s the hows and wheres that kept tripping us up.  Then, all of a sudden, fulfillment knocked on the door.  Downtown investor Sparky Pearson, Dentonite and owner of LSA Burger Co., purchased buildings adjacent to LSA.  Hearing about our quest, he caught our vision and knew his space next door to LSA was the perfect location to bring it to its finest, most successful fruition.  It needs to be said that he is much more than a landlord.  He is as invested in making the Discover Denton Welcome Center original and independent as we and the Leadership class of 2012 envisioned it should be.

Chamber President Chuck Carpenter and Economic Development (ED) Partnership Director Adam Gawarecki know quality of life is the number one element business prospects consider when deciding where to locate.  The Welcome Center will be a vital tool they’ll use to showcase the Denton lifestyle. That’s why this past week, we saw more than an empty building for the first time.  The ED Partnership members were the first group to take a hard-hat tour and truly “see” what is coming to Denton this fall. Who are these people?  These are the behind-the-scenes investors in Denton’s economic vitality.  They represent big and small business.  Their common denominator?  They brought their visions to Denton, built them, and now support the visions of others who strengthen Denton’s business base.

CVB staff taped the floor plan onto the concrete slab, created mini space dioramas and set up story-boards depicting how this experiential center will work.  We even created a faux video wall with nine different screens showing how we will harness the power of technology to introduce visitors, newcomers and long-time residents to the Denton vibe.  During the reception at LSA following the tour, ED Investor Relations Chair Marty Rivers, CVB Board Chair Bob Moses, Sparky Pearson and CVB staff pumped these investors full of the same excitement we all share for what is headed our way in just a few months.

It is really real, folks!  Strolling along the square on Hickory Street, you’ll now see our signs and vision statement in the window.  The build-out will be underway within just a few weeks.  The vision is unfolding, and Original Independent Denton will soon be within reach of everyone!