CVB discusses 2018 strategic plan

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Eric Freeman, director of the Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), discussed the 2018 strategic plan with the CVB board during its recent regular meeting.

The six-point strategy is designed to increase overnight stays, which generate revenue via the innkeeper’s tax, by 20 percent and to increase awareness of and spending at Putnam County venues and events. Overall, the CVB plans to highlight music, horsemanship and adventure/nature tourism in Putnam County.

On the county’s side, the CVB plans to be “intentional and pro-active” with its Tourism Asset Development (TAD) grant and Tourism Enhancement and Development (TED) matching grant by awarding four (up to $80,000) of the former (two for an existing music, horsemanship or nature tourism, and two for new endeavors) and six (up to $15,000) of the latter in all three areas.

The CVB will also maximize participation in Hendricks County’s Rural Routes to Main Street Cultural Trail, while building its own Rivers and Roads Artisan Trail, which includes Clay, Fountain, Montgomery, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.

Specialty markets, like group tours, covered bridges and Chow Downtown, will also be a focus as retailers, hoteliers, restaurants staff and others receive hospitality training at Ivy Tech.

But the biggest change suggested was moving the Visitors’ Center from its current location at 12 W. Washington St. in downtown Greencastle to the Interstate 70 and U.S. 231 interchange in Cloverdale, possibly in the former KFC building. Citing the fact that nearly 40,000 people are at the interchange daily, the CVB formed a committee to begin looking into costs of the move.

“An I-70/State Road 231-based Visitors’ Center better supports the regional tourism efforts of both trails,” Director Freeman said. “It can serve as a welcome center for DePauw (University). It can promote Putnam County to thousands of travelers daily, can better promote the bulk of the county’s current hotel room assets and can offer county-made goods for sale, along with Putnam County promotions.”

As far as promotions on the tourists’ side, the CVB has bought advertising in “TravelIN” magazine and various state tourism publications, and also recently purchased four billboards along Interstate 70. It also plans to create its own 20-page Putnam County Visitors’ Guide and a monthly e-newsletter.

Lastly, the board approved spending $17,000 left over from last year’s budget to partly fund the $27,900 cost of building a new and better website.

In other news:

-- Greencastle Appointee: Director Freeman said that Greencastle Mayor Bill Dory is still searching for a board appointee for the city, but should have one by the February regular meeting.

-- New Members: The Putnam County Convention and Visitors Bureau convened its first regular meeting of 2018 with two new members: Christina Payton, general manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Cloverdale, and Todd Lewis, of the First National Bank of Cloverdale.

-- TAD Grant: The board approved using in-kind donations for $20,000, which will serve as matching funds for a $51,000 People Pathways project, which will eventually extend from Fern Cliff and Boone-Hutcheson Cemetery to link with rail trails across the state.

The CVB board’s next regular meeting is set for Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at 12 W. Washington St., Greencastle.

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