Successes in MSU Extension Tourism Programming – Destination Downriver
June 16, 2021
This interview recognizes MSU Extension’s 2018 signature tourism program, Understanding Tourism for MI Communities, in 2021 as catalyst needed to launch coalition of 18 communities in Southern Wayne County branding themselves as Destination Downriver.
MSU trustful am the Director of the downtown development authority for Brown Town township. Where a township about 30000 people and growing and thriving, lots of new businesses, lots of things going on here. I'm also the co-chair of destination down river. And it's a group of people that are like-minded people coalition we got together, promote the downriver region. As far as I'm destination, There's 18 communities down. Remember, just South of Detroit, north of Leto is the downriver region. So we got together because we saw there was a need for those 18 communities to market themselves as a tourism destination and at really good response from a community. So, so what were some of the challenges that your coalition had getting up and running 32018 or over the last three years for that. Yeah. So I think the biggest challenge is just getting everybody together. The 18 community, so well, they're 808 diverse communities in the area. And just taking the time to find the right people and explain what we're trying to do. So and the financial support and you do need money to keep things going. So that's at a struggle because we're dealing with the actual municipality. So if you've ever done that, you know that it's not an easy or quick thing to do. Sal sure. That's that's been a struggle. And the the 18 communities remind me, they spread out across Hmm, one county or multiple or all in Lake County. One of our MSU Extension tours and workshops that we conducted in 2018 for this part of Michigan downriver. Help was instrumental in getting your coalition organized and to where it's at now, is that correct? That is correct. I don't think we would have destination down. Remember if it wasn't for the workshop at Michigan State University Extension where chat, there was an idea of Anita towards S geese. She had heard about the workshops and she was kinda the driving force behind it. And we were able, we got a great response, had over 50 people there from all over, including areas that weren't down river, mineral and Dearborn. And it really just to bring everybody together and kind of as you bought us to what tourism can do for an area. And it was very enlightening for us to, to see that and then give us ideas on how to go forward with it. So it was very, very helpful. Any suggestions for regions like yours to pursue? Chocolate? This, what suggestions might you have in advance for them something to consider? I think Andy defined and community partners who are supportive of the idea. So it wasn't just municipalities that we reached out to, but it was businesses, non-profit organizations, anyone who could benefit from learning about tourism and what it could do for the region. So it's not just in our hotels or restaurants that benefit. It's my part as being the DDA director is to attract businesses. And if you have somewhere nice to go some places recreation, it really attracts the businesses to come here and then have their employees live here. So a big push on my part. As Brown's 10 we delta $7 million Recreation campus. Well, the Splash Park and a lot of outdoor activity in that. And our goal was to attract businesses to come to Brown Town, have the employees live here and have a place for them to go outside and do things. So that's a large part of it. I think you need to find in each community municipality organization, your advocates that people who are like-minded want the same things you do. I think that's really important to identify that person and then let them tell their stories. I think that's really important and that's a big part of destination downriver. Just tell, tell why you love it, worried about what to do. I think that's a big part of it that gives people ownership of their community and to tell their stories sell. But that was the whole premise of the workshop, is for us to not necessarily tell you folks or anybody in the state for that matter. What is the silver bullet, but for you to tell us what assets that you have, whether it's across multiple counties or one community in particular, or perhaps across the state and in in some way, shape, or form. And then we take those assets. And what are the things that we've seen over the years is to your point, you know, people think they know everything that's going on in the community or the county or the next county over. And once we pull everybody into the room, you know, 50 people, typically from 50 different areas of the region. They start sharing different agritourism resources are nature-based tourism resources or cultural and historical tours. And then they start realizing, wow, there is way more going on that they never knew about or anticipated. And so that's really the crux of that program and we've seen that. Yeah, I remember that specifically that exercise, we did them as a maze. I brought that up into teams and how many, how many ideas came about? It was really helpful, right? That's good to hear. Glad to God to circle back with you after two years here and, and capture this and look forward to following destination down river. I've done some promotional stuff with your website and social media and of course linking it to MSU Extension and in a minor way. And you certainly have piqued my interest to to explore that part of the state. So much going on. So there is yeah. Appreciate your time and I'll circle back with you maybe in another three years and find that you are very welcome to reach out, Okay. Because anything for you just let us now. Thank you. All right. Thanks so much. Bill.