Promotion is key
The manager of the Iowa Tourism Office Tuesday night congratulated Storm Lake on receiving an $8-million Vision Iowa grant for Project Awaysis and encouraged the community to keep pushing forward on the $30-million lakefront development project.
Nancy Landess made her remarks at the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce and Storm Lake Area Development Corporation annual banquet at the Forum at Buena Vista University. As manager of the Iowa Tourism Office, Landess sat on the Vision Iowa Board that awarded Storm Lake the grant for Project Awaysis.
"I realized that you believed in this project," Landess told several hundred Chamber members and civic leaders. Quoting Vision Iowa Board President Michael Gartner who was not present but prepared remarks for Landess to present on his behalf, Landess said, "The Storm Lake project is the perfect project. It used all the funding mechanism available to a small town in Iowa. It is a big stretch for a small town. But it is a stretch that keeps you limber."
Landess lent her tourism expertise for Storm Lakers to prepare for the tourism wave that Awaysis will trigger.
"It's also going to bring in a lot of visitors to our state," Landess said of Awaysis. Despite Iowa's "neutral" image, Landess said Iowa has a $4.6 billion tourism industry with $17.4 million of that in Buena Vista County (34th out of 99 Iowa counties.)
"You are going to see more travel - generated expenditures in this county.
"We have been humble long enough," Landess said.
"We need to take great pride in what we have in Storm Lake and what we have in Iowa."
One of Iowa's best kept secrets is its people who do not hesitate to help others, Landess said. She noted that it's not that much of a leap to take the home-grown friendliness and use it to promote tourism. "If you treat them well, they're going to tell people about it," Landess said.
One advantage Iowa has is that people are traveling closer to home and traveling more. Long weekends are seeing more tourism traffic. Another plus is that people are shying away from airline travel in lieu of driving, a tendency that's boosted by many vacationers making last-minute plans.
If Project Awaysis is to catch a share of this growing tourism market, then, Landess said Storm Lake tourism promoters need to focus on value.
"You have to market. You have to promote this consumer, to see this project become a success."
Despite the publicity that the movie Field of Dreams has brought Iowa, Landess said promotion is key to bring tourists to an area and to satisfy them so they keep coming back.
Prior to Landess' presentation, awards were presented by the Chamber and SLADC. Special recognition was given to John Fitzpatrick and Candy Clough for their work on Santa's Castle.Chamber awards included Recognition was also given to Outgoing Chamber Board Member Nancy Sargent, Outgoing Chamber President Brad Strader, and Past Ambassador President Cindy Wiemold.
Receiving Special Recognition for Economic Development awards for SLADC were Bodholdt Brothers, Buena Vista University, Friesen USA, Rembrandt Enterprises, and Jim and Beth Bauer.
Business of the Year Winners 2005
* Chamber Involvement
Thayne Benz, Lighthouse Inn
* Business Improvement
Julie Egland, Kristi's Kandies and Heirlooms
* Customer Service of the Year, Mike Rust, Rust's Western Shed
* Business Person of the Year Mike Wilson, formerly of First Federal Savings Bank, now leading Project Awaysis