Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nominally a report of a meeting would generate cause for the average person to snooze through the mundane details.  But today's meeting was something rather special - the 10th Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors of Osborne County Tourism, Inc. (OCT).

Back in 2000 there was an informal gathering of those in the county concerned with developing tourism in the county.  At the time there was - and still is - only one person actually paid to work on this kind of economic development.  And so at this gathering Osborne County Tourism, Inc. was formed, a non-profit organization made up entirely of volunteers from all parts of the county, with no dues, no formal funding, and no budget - just hard work and sweat where every $5 acquired was put to the best use it possibly could be, a grassroots concept somewhat unique in the state of Kansas in the tourism field. 

In that ten years the organization has worked to promote Osborne County across the state of Kansas, letting know - first and foremost - that the county exists, and that it does have unique places to some and see and enjoy.

But after ten years many of those volunteers have had to drop out due to everyday changes in lives, and those who remained are getting older with less resources and energy to continue to contribute as unselfishly as they previously had.

So today's meeting had a crucial question to answer - does the organization continue?  And, if so, what should be its priorities?

The answer from the meeting this afternoon was a resounding YES! to continue, as simply too much great effort and reward had been gained over the past decade to stop now.  But it was agreed that the priorities of the organization needs to change for a time.

Therefore for the foreseeable future OCT will take all the effort and energy it has spent over the past decade in promoting the county across the state, and will turn that energy inward.  The goals in doing this are:
(1) to educate the county's own citizens better to the potential economic advantages that a strong local tourism industry will generate
(2) to develop that local tourism industry to the point where it can complement and support regional tourism at an equal level with our neighboring counties, and
(3) through this effort recruit the next generation of members to continue the work of the past decade.

So while Osborne County will not be seen officially at the Kansas Sampler Festival this year and other statewide meetings, it does not mean that we've gone away and given up; rather that we're merely taking a breath, and soon will come roaring back into the fold as a force to be reckoned with in the field of rural tourism.  Stick around, for when that day comes there will be sights to behold in Osborne County that will earn it the moniker "The 8th Wonder of Kansas Tourism!"

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