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Hays Well Represented at 2021 ITGA Conference

Hays, Kansas — Several representatives of Hays, Kansas have been invited to present at the International Town & Gown Association’s (ITGA) 2021 virtual conference, which will be hosted May 24–26 by Marquette University. The three-day conference will consist of 60 sessions on three tracks, which are focused on the theme “Innovating for Tomorrow, Together.”

Sara Bloom, DHDC

Downtown Hays Development Corporation's (DHDC) executive director Sara Bloom will co-present with Melissa Dixon, executive director of the Hays Convention and Visitor's Bureau (CVB). Not for the first time, the duo will be presenting on the annual event known as March to Main.

"There's a twist to this event when we look back on 2020 which is why Melissa and I felt it important to present again," Bloom said. "Not getting to welcome our new students in person was a huge hurdle to jump and we did it, I think, in a very creative and interactive manner despite our virtual circumstances."

Melissa Dixon, Hays CVB

The presentation titled, "March to Main Goes Virtual - We're Still Partnering to Welcome and Invest in Our Students," will focus on how DHDC, the CVB, and their school partners pulled off a welcome party with no parade, no free food, and no concert, but still provided fun and entertainment, gave away thousands in prizes, created commerce, and built stronger partnerships. The presentation is scheduled to begin at 3:00p.m. (EST) on Monday, May 24.

Sandy Jacobs, Hays Mayor

Hays Mayor, Sandy Jacobs will also be presenting at the conference as a panelist in a presentation titled, "Life After COVID: City Officials Panel: How college communities are moving forward after COVID".

While most cities and villages around the globe have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, college towns have been especially impacted due to the decrease in student populations. The panel will focus on elected and city officials discussing how their communities handled the adversity and challenges of COVID-19, how the federal relief funds have aided in recovery, and innovative ways in which college towns are moving forward.

Other panelists include: City Manager Lee Feldman, Gainesville, FL; City Manager Tom Fountaine, State College, PA; Mayor Cam Guthrie, City of Guelph, ON, Canada; Mayor Karl Mooney, College Station, TX. Mayor Steve Patterson, Athens, OH, will be moderating the discussion. The panel is scheduled to begin at noon (EST) on Monday, May 24.

As a current ITGA Board Member, Bloom will also serve as moderator for several sessions and participate in a panel on ways to utilize the ITGA organization through its affinity groups and committees that are providing new resources and opportunities for member engagement. Bloom is also on ITGA's 2021 Slate of Officers nominated as the incoming board secretary. The ballot will be open during the ITGA Conference beginning May 24 and will close on May 26.

ITGA members and non-members from across the United States, England, and Canada will participate in the conference. For a complete listing of sessions, abstracts, and speakers, visit

About ITGA: The International Town & Gown Association (ITGA), based at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, is the premier resource for addressing challenges, emerging issues and opportunities between and among institutions of higher education and the communities in which they reside. Founded in 2008, ITGA has a membership that includes colleges and universities, municipalities, businesses and strategic partners. Learn more at

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