Let local officials tell it and Columbus, Ohio is a prime destination for tourists and business travelers. So, the state capital’s mayor is putting more money behind telling the world just how great it is.
The extra funding for 2012 is a part of the annual city budget that Mayor Michael B. Coleman proposed in a November ceremony. Of the city’s $735.5 million allotment, an additional $4.6 million would be shared between the Department of Development and Experience Columbus, the city’s convention and visitor’s bureau.
Of the increase, $2 million of it would go toward the Destination Columbus marketing campaign that lets the nation know about the benefits of the city. Several other large markets use similar outreach to promote tourism and keep their area(s) top-of-mind with consumers and businesses.
In today’s climate of economic stress, cities are vying for convention and visitor business as a way to keep money flowing locally. The foot traffic provides support to hotels, restaurants, transportation outlets, and other services used by guests.
“When they spend money, guess what it does? It creates jobs,” Coleman said in his budget remarks.
A continued push to market the city can have a long-standing impact on job creation, a strong selling point in today’s economic climate. The city wants to attract 180,000 jobs to the area by 2020, as defined in the budget presentation. Through marketing, Columbus will also let companies know the benefits of doing business and relocating to Central Ohio.
Mayor Coleman, fresh from re-election to a fourth term as the city’s leader, is determined to make Ohio’s capital a destination point. Columbus has embraced its standing as one of the more popular and growing Midwestern cities.
“Columbus is now a destination point,” the mayor added. “Now we need to bring people here.”
Unlike his counterparts in more popular, yet older and manufacturing-based Cleveland and Cincinnati, Coleman has seen his city’s population increase. In addition, Franklin County, where Columbus serves as the county seat, is on track to become the most populous in Ohio in a few years.
The allocation of marketing funds was a smart move in Columbus. Residents and observers have noted for years that the city lacked a defining image. Its employment base is a mixture of government, healthcare, information technology and education professionals. Big major league sports, a way to indirectly build national credibility, have eluded Columbus with the exception of its major league hockey team. So the visitors’ bureau could use the extra cash to tell some success stories in the area that may not be known to those outside of Ohio.
Columbus City Council is holding hearings this week to determine whether or not they will approve the budget submitted by Mayor Coleman.