A new tourism logo for the city, a new marketing
campaign with an additional $50,000 to spend on advertising, three
large festivals to conduct and some new events and activities to plan
these items should keep the Madison tourism office busy in 2012,
according to the discussions that took place at the Jan. 30 VisitMadison
Inc. board meeting and half-day annual strategic planning retreat. These
would be challenging missions for an experienced team, but this year they
will present an added challenge for a new wave of leadership coming into
The one-time influx of dollars totaling $205,000 are being provided from
the Milton-Madison Bridge Mitigation funds for the city to use over two
years to help offset any negative impact from the bridge construction
project. The tourism board will be able to supplement its planned $70,000
advertising effort with this additional $50,000 this year and also use
it to market the bridge re-opening, now projected to be in early 2013.
A new marketing logo that was to be unveiled two days later at the Madison
Area Chamber of Commerces Annual Dinner was discussed as the first
step in the challenging year ahead of promoting Madison in the coming
Using Indiana Rural Development Downtown Enhancement grant
money totaling $20,000 awarded to Madison Main Street Program and matching
funds from various local government and nonprofit agencies, Seattle-based
consultant Roger Brooks was hired in 2008 for $50,000 to do a branding
study for Madison. The all-volunteer Brand Leadership Team, which represents
downtown merchants and various organizations, has been implementing many
of the ideas from that study. With mitigation funds, the city was able
to hire firms to create the new city logo and prepare a public relations-advertising
by Don Ward
directional signs went
up around Madison, Ind.,
on Jan. 24 displaying
the new logo.
RLR Associates Inc. of Indianapolis created the logo, which appeared
on newly erected directional signs mounted throughout the city in late
January. The logo will be rolled out gradually through the spring.
Hirons & Co., also of Indianapolis, produced the public relations
and advertising plan, which emphasizes marketing to a 50-mile region of
But now a new challenge has emerged for moving forward with these tourism
plans in 2012 in the wake of the citys election of a new mayor at
such a critical juncture.
The Branding Leadership Team, comprised of 14 people representing the
retail community, government and nonprofit agencies, directed the effort
to develop the brand. It had been led by former Madison Mayor Tim Armstrongs
Community Development assistant, Jenny Eggenspiller. Meanwhile, a Bridge
Mitigation Committee had been meeting monthly to manage the money provided
to the city from the bridge project. Armstrongs appointee, Jan Vetrhus,
had been leading that committee to ensure proper use and accountability
of those funds, as required by the Indiana Department of Transportation
and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The rest of the committee represents
the organizations as spelled out in the formal Bridge Mitigation Memorandum
But now, only a few weeks in office, newly elected Mayor Damon Welch and
his Community Development, assistant Andrew Forrester, say they are still
getting their footing and being briefed on these important initiatives.
They requested more time to study the initiatives before being interviewed
Vetrhus briefed the mayor Jan. 25, and Welch took part in unveiling the
new logo at the chamber dinner that same evening at Hanover College. Vetrhus
said she was no longer serving as the chair but would remain on the bridge
mitigation committee as the representative from Cornerstone Society. Eggenspiller,
meanwhile, has stepped off the Branding Leadership Team since she is no
longer a city employee.
It will now be up to the citys new administration on how to move
forward and who will lead them. Forrester, 22, and a recent graduate from
Wabash College, took over in what had been Eggenspillers role at
City Hall. He sat in on the tourism board meeting and strategic planning
session as the mayors new appointment to that board. He will also
serve on the Branding Leadership Team, replacing Eggenspiller.
In addition to the heritage tourism and promotional marketing money, INDOT
and KYTC have provided additional mitigation funds. This includes $80,000
for the Madison Main Street Program to hire a part time director, Beth
Black, and assist downtown merchants with advertising and training;
$40,000 for the town of Milton, Ky.; and $80,000 for the city to hire
the Historic Preservation Planner, Camille Fife, for two years. Her role
is to seek and apply for grants and other assistance to help improve the
citys historic district.
But the mayors office is not the only place where transition is
taking place. The tourism board itself is getting three new volunteer
board members, two of which who had not yet been named by the time of
the late January strategic planning session. Getting these three of nine
board members up to speed should also present a challenge, especially
since they will not even attend their first meeting until late February.
In addition to the newly appointed Forrester, the tourism board is waiting
for a new appointment from Madison City Council to replace Bob Schoenstein,
who retired from the council last year. Karen Hinton, who serves on both
the tourism board and as treasurer of the Jefferson County Board of Tourism,
has asked the latter board to select someone to replace her for 2012.
She did not attend the strategic planning session. Forrester did attend
the tourism meeting and was voted to serve as its secretary-treasurer
Joe Carr, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society,
is also new this year to the tourism board, replacing outgoing board president
John Staicer of Historic Madison Inc. as the representative from historic
sites. Carr has served on this board before so he is not entirely new
Other returning board members, along with newly appointed offices and
their appointing agencies, are: Renie Stephens (voted 2012 board president),
Holiday Inn Express, (representing Jefferson County Board of Tourism);
Nathan Montoya (voted 2012 board vice president), Village Lights Bookstore,
(At Large representing retailers); Joe Craig, Craig Auto (representing
the Jefferson County Council); Kevin Watkins, The Pets Doc (representing
the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce); and Peter Woodburn, Woodburn, Kyle
& Co. (representing Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County).
Woodburn was also unable to attend the strategic planning session.
Prior to the strategic planning session, the tourism board held its regular
monthly meeting during which it elected new officers, approved its 2012
budget and discussed various new activities planned for the coming year.
They are also considering taking on an ambitious project to hire a Tennessee
company to produce a coffee-table type hardbound book about Madison that
the tourism office would then sell the public in hopes of turning a profit.
The biggest challenge is coming up with about $120,000 up front to produce
book. Meetings have been scheduled with the publisher to further explore
Lytle began the strategic planning session with her board noting that
the bridge project inadvertently left out of the strategic plan. There
was no discussion about impacts from the bridge project during either
the regular tourism board meeting or the strategic planning session until
it was learned late in the meeting that the first bridge closure had been
set for April 25-29, just a few weeks away (see related bridge closure
story, Page x). Lytle said it was not the tourism offices role to
advertise the bridge closures, and that she had been assured that the
two planned five-day bridge closures would not occur during the citys
But the bridge closure will affect some events scheduled for that weekend.
Montoya said he was planning an inaugural poetry conference at this bookstore
that weekend and would definitely be affected by the closure, since the
poet laureates of both Indiana and Kentucky are scheduled to appear. The
Madison Main Street Program, meanwhile, is kicking off its first Fourth
Friday event of the 2012 season on April 27 and is to include a
new Fabric Show and kickoff of their Buy Local campaign. Lanthier
Winery also has workshops, wine tastings and its annual plant giveaway
scheduled for April 28-29.
With so much going on in 2012, so much money available, and so many new
faces coming in to guide the city administration and tourism board through
this unusual year, it will critical that these new leaders get on board
quickly to make the most of this one-time marketing opportunity for Madison.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: Don@RoundAbout.bz.