We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Tidwell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amy, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am born and raised from Corsicana, Texas (6th generation native) and to work in a community where my family has so much history here is truly a rewarding experience. I think growing up in the place I work and raise a family makes me take much more pride in all that I do. I grew up in a middle class, blue collar family; my mother raising 4 children on her own, and my siblings and I all worked while in school. Growing up, I respected my mother and all she did for our family and I learned early on the value of a dollar and that you had to work to earn that dollar. This concept has translated into all aspects of my life from work, marriage and being a mother; everything in life takes work and you only get back in life what you put into it….so why not put the best part of ourselves in all that we do? From growing up in Corsicana, I also learned the value of community. My husband and I have lived in East Texas and Dallas and we found out very quickly that there is nothing like having connection to your community. I have seen through good time and bad, a community comes together when you need them. Corsicana is the perfect place to raise a family and I am happy this community has helped shape me into the person I am today.

I also attended Kilgore College where I was a Rangerette and the program taught me so much about self discipline, grace, respect, and humility. Gosh, it taught me a ton of humility. The Rangerettes intense and rigorous program has been to compared to others like West Point military academy and only the elite get selected each year for the program. I attribute so much of my work ethic to what I learned at Kilgore in the Rangerette program. So much so, that I proudly hang my old uniform in my office today as a daily reminder that the most rewarding opportunities in life take hard work and grit.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
This is such a loaded question because there are so many reasons on why I am where I am today! I work for the City of Corsicana as the Main Street and Tourism Director. Before that, I was in public education for six years and thought that is what I would retire doing. But after a year of battling infertility, our specialist recommended I take a lower stress job. It was during that same year, my husband and I lost our fathers within 3 months of the other (my step dad). It is these life changing moments that we sometimes reevaluate our lives and what is most important. For us, family is most important so I decided to step away from the classroom, we moved back to Corsicana and I began working at a small gift shop in downtown Corsicana. I worked at the gift shop for 4 years and it was truly one of the best things that happened in my life. There, I learned about our Main Street program and the importance of shopping small. (And I also was able to get pregnant with a beautiful baby girl – now 4 years old, Kennedi) I truly saw firsthand the impact of supporting local and how that impacted the store owner and her employees. I saw the heart of our small business owners by working there but later the store owner told me she was going to retire and close the shop. One month later, the Main Street/Tourism position came open and I took a chance and applied. I was offered the job and I could not be more grateful that the City Manager and City Council took a chance on this local gal with no experience but a true love and passion for her hometown.

Now about my job…..I like to explain my job as 2 different hats so bare with me:

As the Main Street Director, the best summary for my job is I do small scale preservation-based economic development for our downtown. I work to revitalize and add vibrancy by recruiting businesses downtown, creating events, and engaging our community to support local by constant promotion of our downtown. The Main Street program is a National program all over the country that utilizes a consistent and successful community-driven method called the Four-Point approach, which believes in bringing 4 cornerstones together to revitalize a downtown: Economic Vitality, Design, Organization and Promotion. We have seen tremendous growth downtown over the past 4 years with 51 new businesses, over $11 million in reinvestment, and over 800 people working downtown. I am so proud to see the growth we have had and continue to have so we can offer the best experience for our locals and visitors.

Still with me? Okay here’s the other hat I wear:

As the Tourism Director, I work to promote Corsicana as a unique Texas destination to visitors. I oversee our Corsicana Visitors Bureau which works to support Corsicana tourism through marketing and advertising, grant opportunities for event promoters and our local arts agencies, and supporting our Corsicana Visitors Center (where my office is located). In the past 4 years we have seen record numbers in visitation and the CVB is currently working to implement their 3 year strategic tourism plan to continue working on enhancing the visitor experience. We have also transitioned our Visitor Center to also be a gift shop. In a world where everything is digitally accessible, the gift shop encourages visitors to see us in person. With this rebranding of the visitor center, we have seen visitor impressions increase and merch sales continue to improve each year. We also launched this year the Visit Corsicana ambassador program to garner more community support and engagement in Corsicana tourism. My proudest achievement in tourism would have to be last year: Corsicana launched its year long celebration of it’s 175th anniversary as a founded city and we recently were awarded with a Texas Travel award for Best Destination Marketing Campaign for our 175th celebration. I am honored and humbled to see Corsicana recognized on a state level for being one of the top travel destinations across the Lone Star State!

What do I want the world (really, world?) to know about me and my story?

Simply that you never really know the path you will take in life. The saying “sometimes in life, it throws you curveballs…” Well, I am a walking, talking example of that saying. Learn to adapt to change, embrace it, and hit that curveball so you can say “I’m ready to hit whatever life throws my way. (maybe a knuckleball next?)” Sorry I am punny, and married to a former baseball coach.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh my, this is fun! The thing about Corsicana is there are so many hidden gems! And this is considering I don’t have to WORK any events and can enjoy them myself!

Day 1: Shopping downtown, preferably during mimosas at the market so we can enjoy refreshing beverages while we shop. After shopping, have a late brunch at one of our coffee shops downtown (Timbers and Mita’s are both amazing!). After late brunch, head over to the Navarro College Pearce museum and explore the exhibits. After the Pearce, head back and relax at my house for a little bit (because my best friend is going to stay with me) and freshen up before heading back downtown for a professional show at the Palace Theatre or a community play at the Warehouse of the Living Arts Center.

Day 2: Lake day! Head out to Richland Chambers Lake to a friends lake house with my family, hang out, cook out, ride the pontoon, tubing, or just relax and float in one of the coves (my favorite thing to do!) This can be a whole day and dinner can be at the friends house or dinner at The Harbor Restaurant at sunset.

Day 3: Head out and spend the morning or afternoon doing a farm tour at Purdon Groves. Or this can be a whole day and spend the night glamping under the stars! If only doing morning, come back and have lunch at Across the Street Diner or Old Mexican Inn/OMI (my best friend actually loves OMI and I love their coconut margarita). After lunch, head to Pioneer Village and schedule a tour with Deb the curator, she’s so knowledgeable and passionate about Corsicana/Navarro County history! After the tour, head out to Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille for bowling, hanging out on the new patio with yard games, live music, beverages and food on their new expanded menu! The food is so good! If my family is meeting us up there, we will probably hang out in the arcade games too!

Day 4: Head out to Angelita Winery and Vineyard for an afternoon of visiting the tasting room for wine flights and appetizers. After the winery, head back into town and visit an NCA art gallery showing at the WLAC or an open studios at Corsicana Artist and Writers Residency, then visit art alley for some selfies with my bestie, explore the bronze tour, drive my bestie around the driving Carriage Tour and then head to Brick Streets Brewery for some pints before heading over to the Corsicana Opry Steakhouse for dinner.

There is so much more and I am sure after this interview I will regret not mentioning something else! Like I said, there are more things to do than people realize here!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Goodness that is so hard because there have been so many people in my life help shape me into the person I am today! But first and foremost I have to thank God for blessing me with the life I have and the people He has put in front of me. God has taken me on such an interesting path in life, one I questioned many times, but I have truly learned to lean into His faith and trust. I also have to thank my husband, Aaron. He is my best friend and has been by my side in every big life decision we have made together. He makes me a better version of myself everyday and is a wonderful father to our two children and I love him so much for that.

Website: https://visitcorsicana.com/

Instagram: @corsicanatx @corsicanamainstreet @amytidwell

Facebook: Corsicana Main Street, City of Corsicana, Amy Funderburk-Tidwell

Youtube: Corsicana Main Street

Image Credits
Michael Kormos, Justin Williams, Claire Johnson

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