Things seem to have changed for the better with the selection of Katie Peterson as the new executive director this past August. Peterson, a Cobb County native, is a graduate of North Cobb High School and Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, with a degree in marketing. Before taking over the executive director role last August, Peterson worked as the bureau’s marketing manager.
I had lunch with her on the Friday before the 21st annual Taste of Marietta shindig scheduled on Sunday. Had I been her, I would have put me off until another day, but people who have a modicum of media relations skill don’t do that. And she didn’t. If she looked nervous about her maiden voyage as the producer/director of one of the city’s largest events and one of two major fund-raising efforts of the Marietta Visitors Bureau, she didn’t show it — other than the usual concerns about the weather.
She told me later that city staff estimated between 60,000 and 70,000 people were in attendance at the event. They did have to shut things down a couple of hours early because of lightning but the day was a resounding success.,
The Marietta City Council gives the MVB about $197,500 annually. The money comes from city’s hotel/motel and auto rental taxes and accounts for 75 percent of the Visitors Bureau’s budget. The bureau then allocates that money to advertising and marketing programs to promote the city.
The MVB estimates that the Welcome Center, which is operated by the bureau in the old Western & Atlantic Railroad Depot, receives about 45,000 to 55,000 visitors a year and that in turn generates tourism dollars. Peterson says the economic impact of tourism to the city of Marietta is between $175 million and $200 million annually.
Wow. That would seem to be good news you would like to know about, but it hasn’t been easy to come by in the past.
I had detected a bit of a disconnect in the past between the MVB and the businesses in downtown Marietta, including those involved in the Branding Project, which represent restaurants, retail shops, arts and entertainment businesses and others who have it as their mission to promote Historic Downtown Marietta (defined as Glover Park and a three-block radius in all directions.) Some of that I attribute to turf issues and some to poor communications.
Those past tensions seem to be easing. Donna Krueger, owner of dk Gallery on the Square and a tireless promoter of downtown Marietta, as well as an integral part of the Branding Project says, “The Visitors Bureau is in a unique position now more than ever to attract tourism dollars through such events as the upcoming Sesquicentennial, the Atlanta Braves and other growth areas without having to worry that downtown Marietta will be neglected. That is because the Marietta Branding Project has been working diligently in cooperation with the MVB, the city of Marietta and the Marietta Business Association to create a unique identity for downtown Marietta.”
See? There is enough room for everybody in this game if everybody is on the same team working for the same goal.
Krueger gives Katie Peterson good marks for her work thus far at the MVB. So do I. She is a breath of fresh air in an organization that badly needed it.
On another subject: Sanity seems to have returned to our neighbors in Cherokee County. Former State Sen. Majority Leader Chip Rogers, aka “Will the Winner,” is gone from his cushy taxpayer-funded job at Georgia Public Broadcasting and hopefully from sight.
Former Cherokee School Board member Kelly Marlow, along with Robert Trim, a former adviser to Rogers, and former Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles were all convicted recently of felonies and sentenced Thursday to 10 years of probation, with 60 days in jail for lying to police after falsely accusing Cherokee County School Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo of trying to run them over after a school board meeting last year.
There are a lot of good people in Cherokee County, trying to do good things for their community. The aforementioned crowd is not among them.
Good riddance to them all.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at dickyarbrough.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dickyarb