Kent J. Burnes is a leading authority and consultant on revitalization and economic development of community assets; meaning he addresses the entire arena of revitalization and economic development beginning with conception & planning through implementation. Kent is also a talented business consultant and combining the two focuses of revitalization and business development makes him top in his field.
Kent grew up in the small community of Olive Branch, Mississippi and attended college at nearby Memphis State University where he majored in finance. In 1980 Kent was hired by Edson Express, a regional Rocky Mountain freight transport company, to determine the market and revenue base potential to the north in Wyoming. Kent relocated to Sheridan Wyoming where he made recommendations to open Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper, Rock Springs, Worland, Sheridan, Cody Wyoming and Billings Montana. Business flourished for Edson Express and he was offered a positon in Denver CO. Kent had become fond of Sheridan and was also volunteering on the community’s first Historic Downtown Association. Kent organized the downtown partnership and was thus recruited by then Mayor Max DeBolt to remain in Sheridan and manage the downtown revitalization / economic development program.
In near-by Rapid City SD a pilot project of the National Trust was just getting off the ground which led to the creation of the National Main Street Center. Kent became one of the 1st generation Main Street managers in the United States and led the Sheridan organization for several years. When Flagstaff, Arizona was recruiting for a downtown director Kent Burnes’ name was top on the list and he was recruited by city manager Frank Abeyta to organize the city’s first revitalization of their historic downtown. Upon arrival Downtown Flagstaff was 68% vacant but at the end of Kent’s tenure the downtown was 100% leased up. Flagstaff allowed Kent to begin his consulting career as other entities were constantly inquiring about the success of Flagstaff. Kent eventually moved to full time economic development and business consulting. Over the last 22 years Kent has worked in more than 500 communities in numerous countries and presented his award winning workshops to over 300,000 small business owners helping them find their competitive edge.
Kent is a proponent of the Main Street approach to downtown revitalization and has been a consultant to the National Main Street Center on various occasions for over 20 years. Keeping downtowns healthy and finding sustainable solutions to the problems facing downtowns is a large part of Kent’s work. Kent has a deep knowledge of what it takes to launch a new program or find the bottlenecks in an existing program. Consulting on projects from Baltimore to San Francisco and all points in between clients enjoy Kent’s passion and enthusiasm that he brings to each and every assignment. Because Kent is a small business owner himself he understands what it takes to make businesses work, and as a result Kent has authored several books and provides consulting assistance for countless business owners.
The Small Business Administration awarded Kent the coveted Phoenix award for his tireless contributions in assisting businesses affected by disasters. Kent has received other awards from colleges, governor’s offices, trade associations and business organizations world-wide for his development of programs and techniques that make all business owners more profitable in their endeavors.
Kent is a gifted speaker and is in high demand on the circuit. Kent’s typical audience is 200-300 persons but speaks at the large venues (1000-5000 persons) several times per year. Topics range from “Outrageous Customer Service” to “Revitalization that Works”. Kent’s training program for small business “Sharpening Your Competitive Edge” has been awarded the International Golden Galaxy Award for outstanding content and presentation.
In 2002 Kent purchased land on the island of Roatan in the Western Caribbean where he “hands on” planned, designed, and built an award winning resort that was profitable from opening day. Kent also trained all of the positions from cook to general manager and maintained oversight of his investment until December of 2015 when he sold the resort. Blue Bahia remains a viable award winning resort as a testament to his business acumen.
Mr. Burnes is the author of “Competing With National Discounters”, “Facing the Warehouse Home Center Challenge”, “7 Secrets to Small Business Success”, “Secrets to Small Business Success” and the audio book “More Secrets to Small Business Success” and has written extensively in trade journals on various business and economic development subjects.
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