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Tourism can help us now, in the futurePosted Friday, November 2, 2007, at 5:19 PM
Behind-the-scenes work is actively under way to enhance the Greene County tourism industry.
A kickoff meeting was Thursday night and if attendance is any indication about the potential interest in helping this county capitalize on this opportunity, then the organizers of the event -- the Greene County Chamber Coalition, Greene Economic Development Corporation and the Greene County Foundation -- ought to be encouraged by the numbers they witnessed.
There are growing numbers of individuals and organizations that feel that tourism is an untapped and unexplored business opportunity just waiting to be launched in Greene County.
With the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Shakamak State Park, Greene-Sullivan State Forest, Redbird State Riding Area, the Tulip Trestle (Viaduct), Richland Creek Covered Bridge, historic sites, hundreds of stocked lakes with camping, fishing and hiking amenities, unique shops and outstanding eateries, picturesque rolling hills scenery, homespun specialty businesses like Walnut Grove Spring Water Company, we have what it takes to build a tourism industry.
Couple the county's tourism assets with what is available culturally, educationally and historically in our neighboring counties of Monroe, Knox, Clay, Daviess, Martin, Owen, Lawrence and Vigo counties its easy to see how Greene County has a lot going for it as a central location for weekend or longer getaways by people from all over the country who are seeking out refuge and relaxation in a place just like this.
The imminent construction of Interstate 69 through our county should also be a refreshing vehicle for thought that better things are coming to Greene County if Greene County gets on board and plans now.
Throw in the fact that WestGate Technology Park is growing momentum and interest among site selectors, developers and those willing to spend and invest money in our county -- every one of us should be very excited about the benefits that this county can reap for generations to come.
It's important that we focus now on building a countywide consensus that believes what is good for one part of the county will also benefit our county neighbors to the east, west, north and south.
Sometimes it's difficult for the natural beauties and unique tourism opportunities that God has blessed our county with to be seen by local residents. Too often, we immediately assume that no one else is interested in the things that we have right before our eyes and take for granted.
I'm sure the folks in Brown County feared some of the growing pains that encouraging and enticing tourists or visitors to their community would produce when they began organized planning efforts to grow a tourism industry in what has now become known as "Little Nashville."
And, yes it will take money to grow this industry in the form of a food, beverage and lodging tax -- the kind we all pay any time we travel to any kind of tourist location or order a meal out in most larger cities anywhere in the state or country. It's user's tax paid for by those who use those kinds of product or services.
As I mentioned, there is active planning going on to enhance tourism and those involved don't necessarily believe we have to have a "build it and they will come" attitude. We already have the basis for it, now we just have to market it.
I and several others in the county who sit on a Web site development committee organized by the Greene County Economic Development Corporation have been brainstorming the past few months coming up with a "branding" image and slogan to present a face of Greene County to the world.
A brand creates an identifiable entity and makes a promise of value.
It creates an image and awareness of our community in the minds of others. A brand should also represent the desired attributes of the community.
GCEDC director Joan Bethell is a staunch believer that tourism is a viable industry for this county.
She says 50 percent of those who relocate to a community come first as a tourist.
Since the Goose Pond project is a primary anchor for the development of Greene County's tourism industry, the image of the long-necked crane has been used in developing our brand new image. It is a distinctive feature in Greene County that distinguishes us from other communities and has the potential to make us memorable, Bethell says.
Planners are also now in the final stages of coming up with a tag line that will send a strong verbal message that is an integral part of the brand identity. It's a short statement of who we are or what we aspire to be.
More than 50 different taglines have been considered. The public's input is being sought to help define a proper tagline to go with the county's branding image.
At a meeting this week the top two from public comments received were: "Balanced progress, forward motion" and "Where values drive vision."
Other suggestions have been:
• A land of dreams and vision
• Where family and business converge
• Accelerate success
• Taking flight for progress
• Build your enterprise
• Build your legacy
• Business. Family. Success.
• Growing great business and strong families
• On your horizon
I am sure there are others to consider and Thursday night's tourism meeting also solicited several other suggestions.
It's really good to know there are more than a handful of people in this county that can see the potential that tourism has to be something very big in the near future. Let's not miss this opportunity to do something that will be good for our county and its residents for generations to come.
Please have a vision that is able to see more than five years down the road.
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