Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Feb 25, 2018

Visitors bureau gives annual report

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jan 30, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Fairfield Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director Rustin Lippincott, right, and assistant director Terry Baker present their annual report to the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors Monday.

Fairfield Convention & Visitors Bureau executive director Rustin Lippincott and assistant director Terry Baker gave their annual report Monday to the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors gave the visitors bureau $7,500 last year. Lippincott asked the board to increase its contribution to $10,000. The supervisors did not indicate whether the increased funding request would be honored. Supervisor Dick Reed said the visitors bureau is a great neighbor to the courthouse. He added that the county has some of the same financial problems the visitors bureau does.

Lippincott said Fairfield punches outside its weight class, generating more revenue than would be expected of a town this size.

He said tourism is a $40.45 million industry in Fairfield and Jefferson County, a 15 percent increase from the prior year.

Jefferson County ranks 27th in tourism expenditures and 39th in population of Iowa’s 99 counties. Tourism employs 370 locally, and the city’s hotel/motel tax generated $188,841, an 11 percent increase over last year and the most since the tax was enacted in 2004.

Lippincott talked about how the visitors bureau has invested its money. In 2017, it invested $50,000 in marketing, $15,000 in grants and $42,000 toward special projects such as city branding, hospitality training, wayfinding signage, Maasdam Barns technical assistance and more.

The grant program funds events and activities that improve the quality of life in Fairfield and Jefferson County, and have the potential to attract visitors through education, recreational or artistic opportunities.

The visitors bureau supported improvements and beautification in Fairfield’s downtown with the Sprucing Up Grant Program, providing matching funds to businesses to upgrade their curb appeal and create a more inviting atmosphere for visitors and residents.

The bureau also introduced a new grant program in 2017 to provide matching funds for the purchase and installation of blade signs, which are perpendicular signs that help pedestrians identify shops as they walk along the sidewalk.

“The Sprucing Up Grant and Blade Sign Grant Programs are part of a larger strategy to create a more vibrant tourism experience and generate more foot traffic in downtown Fairfield,” stated the report.

Baker said the purpose of the bureau is to “tell Fairfield’s story,” to explain why it’s unique and worth a visit.

“If we’re an attractive place to visit, we’ll be an attractive place to live in, too,” she said.

Lippincott and Baker talked about how the visitors bureau’s website and visitor guides are well used. They talked about how the visitors bureau partnered with the city to roll out a new brand.

“This joint effort resulted in a clearly defined statement of Fairfield’s assets and characterized Fairfield as Iowa’s most creative and eclectic small city,” stated the report. “This place-brand forms the cornerstone to the bureau’s marketing message and is the basis for their five-year strategic plan.”

 

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