Home Breaking News M’boro hears report from state tourism conference

M’boro hears report from state tourism conference

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By PJ Tracy

Murfreesboro Diamond

The Murfreesboro Advertising and Tourism Commission voted to move money back into signs promoting the digmurfreesboro.com website after only one business — Feed Bin Cafe — took advantage of DNT Media’s offer to provide individual websites for local businesses.

The commission was prepared to refund money for any business that wanted their own website instead of being a part of the digmurfreesboro site.

With the truncated response, the commission will utilize less than $10,000 to promote the website locally in high traffic areas for tourists.

Local business owner Jack Bonds, who attended the Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Jonesboro in February, gave the commission a report of his findings.

One of the big topics at the conference was trails for wide tire bicycles called “gravellers.”

The idea is to utilize existing gravel roads and place maps along the way for tourists to  traverse the local area without having to provide expensive infrastructure. It would also allow for local business opportunities in renting and repairing bicycles.

Bonds said another key idea presented was going all in on branding the town — in our case, “diamond everything” such as park benches with diamonds for the “Diamond City.” He said the experts stated that logos were overrated, and that many workers of a business couldn’t even describe their own logo.

Members of the commission also suggested having diamonds painted on the roadways, much like may communities do as directional guidance to athletic facilities.

While at the conference, Bonds toured the Arkansas State University athletic facilities, with which he was at first disappointed (as opposed to seeing the whole campus), but really enjoyed his conversation with ASU football coach Butch Jones, who Bonds called “a good man.”

Bonds said the biggest question asked of Jones was of player loyalty to a university in the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) era. Jones told the group that “players will only be loyal until it no longer suits their needs.”

A key point Bonds brought up was the need for a more concerted effort by Murfreesboro and perhaps Pike County to be represented at events like the Conference on Tourism. He said Mena was represented by their mayor, council members, economic development person, and tourism representative.

“They are out there fighting to improve their communities, trying to grow their towns and open new businesses. We, as a unit, need to all get on the same page and do what is beneficial for the whole town … not just one representative. It’s just harder to make an impact that way — we need a cross-section of the city to go represent. They are out playing us, so to speak, being more aggressive.”

Bonds also said that the idea of a local music trail could help pull music entertainment in, much like the one that exists in the delta area of Arkansas that focuses on blues music.

It was noted by the commission that the signs for the Glen Campbell trail were lagging behind the new “Arkansas Rocks” trail due to the Campbell family had to approve a logo before the signs could be created and installed.

Bonds said that it was crucial to see what other areas of the state were promoting and utilize them to fit our needs, as opposed to to constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. 

He said with the success of the annual Keith Stone Memorial Car Show, it might be possible to haw a car show once a month and become the car show capitol of Arkansas.

Another topic broached at the conference was for entities to endlessly ask for freebies from local merchants.

“Ask them to buy items at their cost … it will make more fans and build good will.”

It was debated by members of the commission that the town was probably more than half full as far as accommodations for the upcoming eclipse, and that possible tourists were still watching the weather forecast and waiting to see where they needed to be to see the eclipse.

In their long-range forecast, accuweather.com currently has Murfreesboro with “times of clouds and sun with a thunderstorm in the area” and a 55% chance of precipitation.

In an update of the tourism center at the former City Service building, located across the street from the Pike County Courthouse, it was said that a hand dryer had been installed. It was also noted that brochures were available and that local merchants could include marketing signage at the facility “for a minimal rental” pending approval by the City of Murfreesboro.

It was also noted that the commission would half the cost with the city on cleaning fees, though chairman Jamie Terrell seemed to recall the original deal perhaps being that the city would pay the utility fees for the building, while the city would bear the cost of the janitorial services.

Additionally, a table had been ordered to sit under the television, and that people could sit inside the facility in wrought iron chairs.

The commission was told by secretary/treasurer Jane Fugitt that the annual Arkansas Department of Transportation grant proposals were due by May 31 for awards of $300-$500 thousand dollars, and she suggested it be applied for.

The commission also agreed to partner on an order with the city on an order of diamond lapel pins with a pearl essence. It was stated they would make “great giveaways” for dignitaries and in gift bags.

The commission’s next meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 23.