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Jackson chamber unveils tourism initiative

Tara Buehler, left, and Alyssa Phares of Red Letter Communications check out the GO JXN MO logo they helped to create displayed on a large overhead screen as Janna Clifton from the Jacksaon Area Chamber of Commerce describes the new tourism initiative at Friday’s Business Breakfast. Photo by Gregory Dullum

The Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce unveiled its tourism initiative Friday, June 21, during a business breakfast at the Jackson Civic Center. The unveiling included an introduction to its tourism website, social media pages, branding and strategy.

The unveiling was previewed at the Board of Aldermen study session Monday, June 17, as Brian Gerau, president and CEO of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce, and Janna Clifton, retail and membership director for the chamber, updated the aldermen on how the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the chamber had received from the city was being used to increase tourism.

“Our goal is to bring more people into Jackson,” Gerau told the aldermen.

Thanks to ARPA funds, the Chamber has a new LED sign in front of its office on East Jackson Boulevard. “We have gotten tremendous response,” Gerau said. Local events such as Cruisin’ Jackson, Homecomers and the train are promoted on the sign.

The sign is the first phase of the tourism initiative.

Prior to this, “there really hasn’t been a hub for tourism in Jackson — one central location that gathers all the tourism events and disperses them,” Gerau told the aldermen. “So that’s going to be our mission and vision.”

East Jackson Boulevard has the highest traffic count of any street in the city, and many people will see the events promoted on the sign, he said. “We add new events to that almost daily,” he said.

Jackson tourism is being done under a new brand called “GO JXN MO.”

“It’s a completely separate brand, it’s completely separate from the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce,” Gerau told the aldermen. “Whenever you see tourism, you are going to see the GO JXN MO brand.”

“GO JXN MO” was developed in partnership with Red Letter Communications and the City of Jackson. The red, white and blue logo is wrapped in a circle and gives the impression of looking at the front of a locomotive. (The Iron Mountain Railway was one of the earliest tourist attractions in Jackson.)

“There have always been a lot of hard-working volunteers doing tourism in Jackson,” Clifton said at the Business breakfast on Friday. “We knew that we needed some united front so we could invite people to our city. So therein came GO JXN MO. You’re going to see this everywhere. It’s going to be all over the place. It’s a great logo to throw on a hat, throw on a shirt and throw on a sticker,” Clifton said.

“And not only does it give direction to tell people to go to Jackson, MO, it also is a rally cry for us locally in the community to remember togo to Jackson, MO, when we’re going out to eat; to go to Jackson, MO, when we’re shopping; to go to Jackson, MO, when we’re taking our kids to the park and visiting places,” she added.

“This has been a vision of the Jackson chamber for about three-and-a-half to four years,” Gerau said at the unveiling on Friday. “We have been working on this tirelessly to make sure that we make the Jackson community as great as it can be.”

GO JXN MO has its own website, which went live on Friday. Also going live on Friday were Facebook and Instagram pages.

Full-color cards to go in tourism racks have been printed up with a QR code on them that can be scanned with cell phones to take people to the GO JXN MO website.

The website, in addition to promoting community events, lists every retail business, restaurant and motel in Jackson. “It’s going to be used as a tool not only for people to visit our community, but I see it as a recruiting tool for hospitals when you’re recruiting doctors to the area or for realtors to use,” said Clifton. “There are so many ways this can be used.”

At both the aldermen meeting and at the business breakfast, Clifton presented a graphic “wheel” depicting how tourism helps a community to grow.

“It starts with the visit. We want someone to come to town and visit Jackson, and from that point, it turns into a place where we want people to live. And when people want to live in Jackson, it turns into a place where people want to work. And when people want to work in Jackson, they want to invest in Jackson. And when people invest in Jackson, they want people to visit Jackson,” she said.

Retail growth, tourism and economic development are all tied together, she said.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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