Randy DuTeau says 2011 was a pretty rough speed-bump of a year.
The deaths of several people close to him was bad enough, and then he lost out on the top job as director of the Greater Augusta Sports Council.
But just as bad things happen to good people, so do good things. And this year has been pretty good, especially with his recent hiring as the director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
After just a few weeks on the job, DuTeau landed in the midst Columbia of County this weekend as we played host to the NCAA Division II soccer national championships. He wasn’t much involved with the planning or promotion of the event, but took advantage of the opportunity to showcase Blanchard Woods Park and Columbia County to the visiting soccer players.
The CVB itself went through a rough patch last year. Beda Johnson’s departure left the organization in a holding pattern, dominated by a directionless, overly chatty board with far too many people on it. Columbia County commissioners took the wise step of blowing the whole thing up and starting over, cutting the size of the board almost in half and putting mostly new members on the board.
That group took their time and hired DuTeau as director. The CVB also scored a coup by bringing back Shelly Blackburn as second in command, guaranteeing some institutional knowledge for all the newbies. Being handed the NCAA tourney is just the icing on the cake.
The next step, DuTeau says, is to revamp how the CVB does business. The board is new, he’s new, and they’re in new offices shared with the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority in synergistic symbiosis.
He’ll take the next year to map out a strategic plan, working with those agencies and others on how best to market Columbia County to the rest of the world.
We might have to look closely to see the results. That’s the thing about a CVB: For the most part, they aren’t really talking to you, because you’re already here. They’re trying to bring other people here to visit, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, shop in stores, play in parks. Some of the money those visitors spend shows up in hotel/motel tax revenues that fund the CVB.
DuTeau wants to better track their efforts and the results, and from there determine just how effective they are in using those funds. It helps that he gets a new year and a clean slate to work with.
DuTeau is thrilled that his new office is just 10 minutes from his Evans home. We ought to be thrilled to have him – and be glad that good things do happen to good people.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/barrypaschal.)