WCCBI: A plan for TPA funds

If the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry is going to receive an infusion of money for tourism promotion, the organization is going to be ready with a plan.

Last month, the Warren County Commissioners designated the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry as the county’s official Tourism Promotion Agency (TPA) for 2014. That change is contingent upon the approval of municipalities representing more than half of the population of the county.

WCCBI President and CEO Jim Decker released details in a letter to executive board members on Monday.

Among the WCCBI’s tourism efforts is developing, administering, and supporting existing and new multi-day events throughout the county.

“We will continue to focus on this method of tourism attraction,” Decker said. However, “we recognize that events alone will not provide a level of consistent traffic into our community to support existing hospitality sector businesses nor promote development of additional opportunities in this market.”

“We must collectively work to expand our offerings for year-round travel to Warren County through projects such as the hiking and biking trails, and the trails at Jakes Rocks development, as well as expanded promotion and support of our local arts and cultural offerings such as The Struthers Library Theatre, The Crary Gallery, The Artist Co-Op in Youngsville, and the Johnny Appleseed Festival in Sheffield.”

“State law, as well as our Memorandum of Understanding with the County both stipulate that all funds generated from the Hotel Bed Tax must be spent for tourism promotion within Warren County,” Decker said. “We will absolutely comply with these obligations.”

The letter outlines how WCCBI plans to utilize those funds for tourism promotion:

Support and develop permanent tourism-focused assets “such as the Trails at Jakes Rocks and Pittsfield Professional Karting Association facilities”;

“Pursue development, expansion, connection and promotion of local and regional hiking and biking trails”;

Spend the hotel bed tax revenues at an estimated breakdown of 70 percent for program support and 30 percent for administrative support, by using existing infrastructure and personnel;

Expand internet information on the WCCBI website to include all service offerings, with “enhanced” listing for member businesses;

“Develop robust social media connections to expand the channels through which today’s tourists are made aware of opportunities including Facebook, 4-Square, Pinterest and Twitter”;

work with regional organizations with ties to tourism;

expand upon existing Warren County Visitors Bureau golf/hotel packages to include “activities such as theater packages”;

participate in outdoor activity trade shows.

WCCBI is also working on plans for the Starbrick visitors center, in case control of the building passes to the chamber.