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Workers restoring the historic Genesee beer sign in Downtown Auburn.

Asset-based development — the notion that a community is better served by building off existing assets, as opposed to courting outside developers to build projects with little connection to the community’ history and values —  has long been recognized as a best practice.

But what if one your assets is a giant beer sign? And what if it hasn’t been lit in 40 years?

The answer to the first question is easy: All the better!

That’s especially true in Auburn, which knows how to have a good time, a fact that will be on display all weekend, from the Founder’s Day celebration on Saturday, to the sign lighting beer bash on Saturday night, to the party following the Great Race Sunday.

This is a significant selling point for this small city. It’s great that we are embracing our proclivity for fun and taking pride in it. And why not? Austin has become an epicenter for creatives by celebrating weirdness. Surely, there’s worse things to celebrate than knowing how to celebrate. If you have any doubt about that, check out this list. Did you know that two U.S. cities are fighting over the moniker “Cowtown,” or that Charleston, West Virgina, goes by the nickname “Chemicalville”?

The second question has required quite a bit of work for the community to answer. The Genesee Brewing Co. has made the investment to restore the sign with LED lights. The Auburn Downtown Improvement District has handled the event logistics and much of its promotion, two things that were key to making the brewery’s investment in the project worthwhile. The city of Auburn is providing security and other support. Local businesses have stepped to the fore to supplement and compliment the event with efforts of their own, with dozens of places offering various specials and enticements. The local fundraising powerhouse known as Majorpalooza is teaming with with Tinkers Guild to man the Genny Beer truck and raise money for charity during the event.

I personally had absolutely nothing to do with any of this, and I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who played a role in making it happen. Thank you all!

Through this cooperative, collaborative effort, a fanciful idea has become reality, and the Genesee Beer sign will be re-lit tomorrow night. Whether you are from Auburn or not, you should come down and take in the spectacle.

From a public relations perspective, it’s fair to say the event has already been a success. Google it, and you’ll find dozens of outlets have picked up on the story and are celebrating the accomplishment with us. That includes this piece in the Citizen, and this one in The Post-Standard, both of which have more details about the lighting and all the other Founder’s Day events tomorrow.

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