Dollars and sense: Economic census circulated through county

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Is your city looking for an economic impact that is environmentally friendly, small in infrastructure and potentially high revenue producing? If so, developing and expanding your tourism base may be a path worth taking.

Think you don’t have tourism assets? Keep looking. As we on the Montevallo Tourism Committee have learned, you would be amazed at what attracts tourists. If you can establish yourself as a destination city, being off the Interstate path will have very little affect on your tourism success.

Through mayoral appointment, a Montevallo Tourism Committee was formed. One of the committee’s first priorities was to develop a “list” of assets. In doing so, we discovered not only the obvious: the University of Montevallo and American Village but also found “Diamonds in the Rough,” including but not limited to, a 150-year old baptist church, Aldrich Coal Mine Museum, Ebenezer”s Swamp, hiking trails, Davis Falls and right under our nose, the local post office that was built in 1937 and contains a beautiful painted mural.

Recent venues also were added to the tourism assets. The Alabama Coach is a restaurant located in the old bus stop garage built in 1949, and the bus depot was recently converted into an ice cream parlor. The new National Regional Veterans Cemetery has also been touted as a possible “Little Arlington.”

We came up with what we felt was a very valuable listing of assets and tourist attractions. As a small example, we set up a group of 25 antique car club members to visit Montevallo.

We tracked their expenditures. In just over 24 hours this group spent approximately $3,000 in our city. Montevallo felt promoting tourism was of such importance that we designed and placed a billboard at the Shelby County Airport exit 234.

Once you establish your city as a destination tourist community, the next hurdle is developing promotions that reach your targeted audience. You can apply for grants from the Alabama State Tourism Bureau to fund brochures and signs, as well as qualify for brochures to be placed in the state’s welcome centers.

Shelby County, in addition to the state, has a well-focused tourism program. They will support qualifying venues and be helpful with assistance and direction.

Building your tourism base is always a work in progress, but revenue-wise well worth the effort.

Ben McCrory is the president of the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at 665-1519 or by e-mail at mailto:montevallocc@bellsouth.net