Successful tourism visioning session held March 27

~by Jacque Andrew and Mary Weaver

Thirty people from Rippey, Scranton, Churdan, Grand Junction and Jefferson, all representing Greene county tourism, government, and philanthropic civic interests were part of a collaborative discussion on Monday evening, March 27, as invited guests of the Thomas Jefferson Gardens board of directors.  The representatives were led by facilitator David Cook of Boone, technical assistance coordinator for the Iowa Foundation for Microenterprise and Community Vitality.

David Cook leads discussion | contributed photo

The evening’s three hour work session followed light refreshments and a brief social time.  Defined as a visioning process regarding Greene County Tourism, it was an also an exercise in projecting what Greene county and tourism would encompass in the year 2022.  Participants were asked to envision why Greene County would be the recipient of a fictitious “Meritorious Service Award from the great State of Iowa” five years from now. Individuals were asked to document why Greene County should receive this award in several categories.

The categories included strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, efficient operation, potential new attractions, and communication coordination.

Individual responses were shared with the group during a very open, frank, and sometimes humorous discussion.  After all the participants’ ideas were voiced and transcribed to poster paper, individuals were given an opportunity to demonstrate their highest priority by voting for two statements from each of the categories.

The categories and top two statements were as follows:

  • Strengths – Existing attractions (work together for common goals); bike trail/River trail (similar to Root River in Minnesota)
  • Weaknesses – Lack of consistent tourism leadership; change of perceptions, move to invest in the future (tied); central clearing house of tourism (tied)
  • Opportunities – Bike/river trail; Bell Tower with true carillon
  • Threats – Lack of training for frontline people who meet our visitors (tied); lack of follow through on ideas (tied); non-engagement of those younger than 40
  • Efficient operation – All entities working together in conjunction to reach goals; pay tourism director their worth/charge them to oversee this process
  • Potential new attractions – Year-round events center; hop on/Hop off trolley
  • Communication coordination – Centralized location/clearing house to facilitate communication a paid position. This was only entry topic is this category.

The evening concluded with participants eager for additional communication and conversation to maintain the momentum and implement a plan for the areas identified with the highest voting.  Thomas Jefferson Gardens Board is working with Cook to set up a return visit in coming weeks to determine a plan of implementation regarding Greene County tourism.

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