In an effort to save money,
operate more efficiently and better communicate strategic goals community
wide, Madison economic development officials are pursuing ways to work
more closely with others. The initiative has been spawned in part by the
recently released strategic plan, created by a consultant for Economic
Development Partners of Jefferson County, formerly known as MIDCOR.
Corey Murphy, EDPs executive director who also sits on the Madison
Area and Convention and Visitors Center board, explained the proposal
to board members at the August meeting. He and tourism director Linda
Lytle have been discussing various possibilities that even include the
idea of merging EDP and the tourism office into one location.
But physically locating the two into one place is just one item on the
table. The strategic plan focuses deeply on tourism as one of Madisons
known strengths for luring future businesses, industrial companies and
retired couples to the area.
On Sept. 11, John Miller, a Madison-based business consultant with Quantum
Leadership Development Group, will lead a session with more than 30 invited
guests from all areas of Jefferson Countys business, industry, non-profit
agencies, colleges, local government and tourism. Working with Murphy,
Miller plans to hold a series of what used to be known as the Sustainable
Communities initiative, which began as part of a program within the Madison
Area Chamber of Commerce. Miller said that with all that is going on in
the community now with the new EDP strategic plan and the citys
new tourism Branding Project with consultant Roger Brooks, the chamber
was not really the right group to implement this sort of thing.
So now the chamber will be a part of a much bigger effort that combines
many aspects and entities.
We hope to have representatives staff and volunteers meet
on a regular basis to communicate what is going on and what is available
so that we dont miss out on any opportunities, Miller said.
This is just the kickoff meeting.
The meeting will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Venture Out
Business Center, with lunch provided by the chamber. Invited guests will
participate in a roundtable discussion to better understand what is at
stake, what goals are being set and what tools are available to achieve
them, Miller said.
Tourism is a key component of who we are; it is central to who we
are, but we also have a solid industry mix, although wed like to
see that become even stronger.
Much of the force behind the initiative comes from Murphy, a Mitchell,
Ind., native and graduate of the University of Evansville.
Prior to taking over his current post in January 2007, Murphy served as
a community liaison for the states Office of Community and Rural
Affairs. He has worked in public, private and non-profit fields.
This year, Murphy has worked closely with newly elected Madison Mayor
Tim Armstrong. The two recently traveled to Japan together to meet with
automotive industry leaders who do business in Madison.
Murphy has also been credited with infusing new energy into the tourism
board, said board president Lucy Dattilo. He looks at everything
through a different set of eyes, Dattilo said. He doesnt
speak with the political baggage of someone who is from here. Hes
young and ambitious and idealistic, and he cares.
Lytle said she has been discussing with Murphy ways of working more closely
with EDP to pursue the goals outlined in the strategic plan. She is open
to even moving the tourism office to another downtown location, if necessary,
to better achieve both agencies goals.
Were just in the exploration stage right now, but Corey has
a lot of good ideas, Lytle said.
Near the end of the August CVB board meeting, Murphy told members about
the strategic plan and its priorities on using tourism as a tool for recruiting.
But a new facet of the plan focuses on luring retirees.
Madison has a lot of things that retirees want, but they havent
been fully developed. For instance, they want lifelong learning and recreation.
We have two colleges Hanover and Ivy Tech so we can provide
the learning opportunities, but we may need another golf course,
Miller said. Citing examples of Asheville, N.C., and Lancaster, Pa., Miller
said retirees have a significant effect on a community. They place
no burden on the schools. They expand the residential tax base. They have
savings so they contribute to the local economy. They want cultural and
social activities. So (recruiting retirees) is something we are looking
Murphy said EDP is organizing a committee whose specific task will be
working and meeting regularly with tourism officials. Murphy emphasized
that EDP is not trying to takeover the role of tourism; rather, he wants
to join forces to do both jobs better.
Were all clamoring for more money, so weve got to find
ways to save money, he told the board. We must be strategic
in leveraging our assets here. Do I want to do tourism? Absolutely not.
I want to do economic development. We can take those savings and invest
them back into the community the right way.
Septembers meeting should be interesting for those who will get
a first-hand look at some new ideas for a town that has long rested on
its tourism laurels but is now being asked to step up to the plate and
use its reputation to reach a higher goal.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout.
Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.