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Potter outlines plans for county tourism, events

The Helper Arts and Music Festival is one of many events assisted by the county's restaurant and transient room tax fund.

Sun Advocate publisher

Carbon County Commissioner Jae Potter has a vision for what can happen in the county when it comes to tourism and events that attract people from outside the area. And after a couple of years in office, he now is getting the chance to help create that idea.

"I have watched the tourism and the events in our area for years," he said. "When I took office I wanted to see how all the agencies that were involved worked and I gave it some time. Now we are going to be making some changes that I think will benefit the county and our economy."

About $200,000 a year

The Restaurant Tax Board has been handling about $200,000 a year, funds that are generated from the tax restaurants levy when people buy food and from the Transient Room Tax that is applied by local lodging facilities. That money has been given out each year to events that took place in the area, largely for advertising purposes. The present board consists of seven members. Right now one of those positions is vacant.

"I think what we need to do is to determine where the money is going in the future and what the legalities are of handing out that money to private institutions for promoting events," said Potter. "We need to define what we are, who we are and what we should market that will bring us the best return on that money."

To do that there is going to be some reorganization going on in the venues that are controlled by Carbon County.

The first thing that is going to be done (and in fact is going on right now) is the hiring of a person to be the Director of Tourism. This will be a new position in the sense that it will work with all the venues in the county to promote and market them.

"The person who has this job will not be supervising other departments, but will work in coordination with them to put together marketing plans and to coordinate promotion," stated Potter.

The venues and departments that will be strung together in a marketing plan include Carbon Recreation, the Carbon County Fairgrounds and Events Center, the North Springs Shooting Range and local events in various places throughout the county. Marketing efforts will also include promoting Nine Mile Canyon/Range Creek and the upcoming trail systems that have been and are being put together in the county.

A comprehensive marketing plan

"What we are looking to do with this is to create a comprehensive marketing plan for the entire county," said Potter. "This plan will not just be for the venues, but we will cross market the entire counties events and attractions."

The idea is kind of like what one sees when they call up an article from a newspaper on the internet and off to the side of the article the site recommends interesting pieces that fit the profile of what the person is looking at. In the case of the county's promotion scheme an ad might be promoting a rock crawling event at the fairgrounds, but along with that ad there would be other events listed that are also going on that weekend, or other events that might fit the profile of someone with common interests who would be looking for other things to do in the area.

In the past The Restaurant Tax Board would accept applications quarterly from venues and events for funding and then would recommend their findings and determinations to the commission. With the reorganization the applications will be submitted once each year (in the fall) and those that are recommended by the board and selected by the new director will be included in a yearly budget that will be presented to the county and approved by the commission in the late fall/early winter just before the beginning of each calendar year. This budget will include funding for both events and brick and mortar projects.

Potter pointed out that this coming year would be a transition year, one in which everyone will be getting used to a new way of promoting and marketing Carbon County.

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