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Showing off

Posted: Sunday, April 04, 2010

While golfers compete this week for a green jacket, Columbia County development and tourism officials will be working toward economic victories.

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During Masters Week, the county's Development Authority and Convention and Visitor's Bureau bring in top dogs in the site selection and tourism industries, offering them a place to rest their heads for a night at a house in the Jones Creek subdivision, and showing off Columbia County.

"It's a great opportunity that's been afforded to us by the Augusta National to bring in individuals who are instrumental in a lot of different facets of economic development," said Development Authority Executive Director Troy Post.

Post said he uses this opportunity to showcase available buildings and lots to site consultants and retailers. At the conclusion of the tour, he gives each one a flash drive containing available properties, area demographics and more.

"Hopefully, they'll take that back to their office and when they run across somebody who may need one of those kinds of lots or buildings, it might be a good fit," he said.

While Post entertains site consultants, Convention and Visitor's Bureau Executive Director Beda Johnson focuses on those in the travel and sports businesses.

During previous Masters Week showcases, Johnson focused much of her attention on attracting anglers and fishing tournaments to take advantage of Clarks Hill Lake.

Now, with the lake hosting a multitude of fishing tournaments each year, Johnson is shifting her efforts.

"We've changed our focus to a broader scope of people with different interests and backgrounds," she said. "We're working on targeted marketing groups."

On Wednesday, Johnson said she has invited soccer-related groups to tour Blanchard Woods Park. Other days, she'll work with meeting and travel planners.

The county's efforts coincide with the state Chamber of Commerce's Red Carpet Tour. The Metro Augusta Chamber of Commerce will set up a tent at the Augusta National for prospective businesses following the Par 3 Tournament as part of the Red Carpet Tour. Columbia County business development officials also volunteer to work at the tent.

"It puts you on the radar screen," Post said of the Masters showcase and related efforts. "Anytime someone can leave here with a good impression, they'll remember us when they have a client that might fit with what Columbia County has to offer."



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