Putting in an unsolicited day of volunteering at Elgin's Fourth of July parade paid off big for the new promotions coordinator hired by the city's downtown neighborhood association.
Keith Weatherspoon started work Monday after being selected from about 25 applicants, Executive Director Deirdre White said.
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"He wanted to show his commitment (by volunteering), and that really stood out to me," White said. "Then I interviewed him, and it just worked out really well."
Weatherspoon, 42, most recently worked as "brand ambassador" for Dixon Golf in Tempe, Arizona, before moving back to Elgin, where he grew up.
He graduated from Larkin High School and has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.
"Keith's knowledge and experience in the industry has already made him a key addition to the DNA family," White said. "We view his appointment as a sign of our continued commitment to the businesses of downtown and being a leading force in Elgin's revitalization."
Weatherspoon will plan, organize, market and execute special events and promotional activities for downtown Elgin, White said.
The DNA also has two part-time staff members. Its annual budget is about $250,000, roughly half from the city of Elgin.
Among his first goals is to light up downtown, Weatherspoon said.
"The lighting has to be on inside the stores, the window displays have to be nice," he said. 'We have to keep downtown lit up at night, so it looks like a place you want to come to, that's inviting."
That would help change negative perceptions of downtown and promote it as a safe and attractive place, Weatherspoon said.
Weatherspoon said he also wants to revamp the website and addresses businesses' expectations about the DNA.
"The DNA is not a marketing firm," he said. "We are there to assist them with marketing ideas and objectives, and I want to be that person who creates that dialogue between downtown businesses and DNA."
Weatherspoon also worked in events production and promotion for The Silver Room Boutique in Chicago and DHudson Productions of Elgin on a DNA-related project about six years ago.