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By Casey Whitaker

The 2014 Mississippi-Alabama Rural Tourism Conference is set for Oct. 20-22 in Greenwood, Mississippi. with key speakers to discuss ways to improve rural tourism in surrounding communities.



Mikey Howley

Mike Howley will speak Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 9 a.m. on Rebuilding a Community for the Locals and Tourists – Water Valley Story. Howley serves as the director of the Water Valley Main Street Association and represents all 51 Main Street directors on the Main Street state board.




Trent Barnett

Trent Barnett, an Extension agent in Calhoun County, Mississippi, began working at Mississippi State University in 1998. He transferred to Calhoun County in 1999 after completing a training program and began working with the Calhoun County Fair Association. Barnett has been involved with fairs since his youth and enjoys working with youth, livestock and horse programs. He will talk about how county fairs celebrate the agricultural history of the South.





Tami Reist

Tami Reist, president and CEO of the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, is responsible for planning, implementing, directing and evaluating all promotion and development of the tourism industry within the 16 northernmost counties in Alabama. She will discuss how to work with hotels and tourism partners. She has 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry and also serves as the Alabama Tourism Chair for the Appalachian Regional Commission.





John Wild


John Wild has worked in the hospitality and tourism industry for 34 years and is the current president for the Auburn/Opelika Tourism Bureau. He will conduct a sports tourism workshop at the conference. Wild previously managed the Auburn University Hotel & Dixon Conference Center and worked for Richfield Hospitality for 20 years. He is actively involved in the community and supports the Auburn Rotary Club, United Way of Lee County, Alabama, Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, Alabama Hospitality Association and the Auburn & Opelika Chambers of Commerce.



For more information about the conference and speakers, visit


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