Former visitors bureau facility sold

Last in a series

A house along State Road 3 sold recently because its occupants are on the move – in more ways than one.

New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. President Corey Murphy announced at last week’s City Council meeting the yellow house which served as home to the convention and visitor’s bureau has been sold. Tourism efforts are now officially under the local EDC roof.

“The proceeds are now in a checking account with the EDC in a Convention and Visitors Bureau Fund,” Murphy explained. “A tourism advisory committee will help decide how those proceeds are used.”

The undisclosed amount will be helpful, Murphy said, as the EDC tries to build upon and improve tourism efforts in Henry County.

Murphy said he, special projects director Penny York and office administrator Kelli Wasson have important goals for tourism, including development of a brand, creation of a new website and attracting a new hotel.

“There’s no way we could do all of that on the innkeeper’s tax alone,” Murphy said.

Since the 1980s, local motels and campgrounds have been paying a 5 percent innkeeper’s tax. That tax generated $50,000 last year, Murphy said.

The relationship between the CVB and EDC was formalized in September, with the EDC taking over marketing and tourism promotion for Henry County.

Murphy told City Council members his EDC team is going to continue being frugal, yet creative as they assume the new role.

“We’re doing this without bringing on another W-2 employee,” Murphy said. “Penny is an employee of the county on assignment in our office. We have worked with Christy Ragle and WholeHeart Communications to help us with tourism and marketing.”

Council members were advised not to expect anything big with tourism soon. Murphy said some important groundwork still has to be laid.

“We’re going to be quiet for awhile,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to figure out what our brand is. A brand is not a logo. We’ll be doing surveys, evaluating Main Street data and involving the community. We’re not going to please everybody, but we have to have some buy-in on our brand. Then we’ll start a new website.”

Murphy said his team would also reach out to the various Henry County tourism attractions soon in an effort to build trust and camaraderie.

Murphy said his staff hopes to encourage “cross-marketing” of local tourism venues to not only bring more people here, but keep them here longer.

Other goals include:

  • Connecting Henry County with statewide tourism alliances;
  • Further develop hometown pride;
  • Provide tangible support to tourism sites and regional partners;
  • Create a targeted marketing campaign to the current residents of Henry County raising awareness of the many benefits visiting, living in and working here have.

Since tourism efforts officially began here in 1989, the county has been able to draw thousands of visitors annually to places like the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Wilbur Wright Birthplace, Hoosier Gym, Henry County Saddle Club horse shows, New Castle Motorsports Park races, Summit Lake State Park, Westwood Lake, a variety of campgrounds and more.

– Story by Darrel Radford (DRadford@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.TheCourierTimes.com.

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