Blanding City put a wrap on a strong 2019 and is moving right into what Pratt Redd hopes is a huge 2020 economically. Redd of Blanding City’s Economic Development office says “This past year Blanding City has been able to really market ourselves and take big steps forward in economic development and visitor services.” The community is divided in its assessment of the forces of growth. Redd explains it as only a local can. “ At times growth and tourism are frowned upon and misunderstood, but the best way to combat that is to work with the residents and try our best to attract growth and visitors that align with the community.”
Redd feels that Blanding City was able to dramatically improve their marketing and visitor services greatly in large part due to two programs San Juan County Economic Development and Visitor Services brings to the table, the Co-Op and Cafeteria Programs.
In June of 2019, Blanding City opted into a cafeteria program for towns, cities, and chapters within the county. Cafeteria assets included a community rip-map, community guide, and social media program. Blanding opted into all three options and Redd was very pleased with all of them... “I was able to work closely with Natalie (Randall, Director SCEDVS) as we created a rip-map and guide that best showcase our community.”
Redd says thousands of travelers come through the visitors center each year, and his main goal is to get them to stay longer and spend more money in town. All three of the Cafeteria assets align with this goal and promote local spending.
Blanding has also been able to revamp their digital marketing efforts and really improve tourism-based website and marketing to attract new visitors and get returning visitors to extend their stays. This effort was made possible by matching Co-op grant funds applied and interviewed for. These dollars were used to market out of county travelers and get them to stay in the community for longer periods.
The benefit to the locals? Redd explains,”We have many individuals that own short term rentals, lodging properties, food establishments and other services that benefit greatly from guests that spend more than just a day, maybe a week or more in Blanding.” This form of economic development provides Blanding with new jobs, and new businesses as well as giving existing businesses the ability to expand due to the increased demand. A traveler staying longer is more likely to buy at the local grocery, drug store and hardware store than someone who is spending the night and likely just eating two or three meals in local restaurants then moving on. A longer stay gets the traveler into the gift shops and the brick and mortar businesses that are the community.
Redd continues with his assessment. “These programs are so beneficial in how San Juan County partners with businesses and communities, and gives them the resources and support to grow in the way that is best for them. Natalie and her office deserve so much credit for the hours and hours of work that went into creating these assets and then supporting them on the back end.”