It has begun. For the next month and a half Alpena and her surrounding resources will be broadcast to an audience of millions. This type of opportunity has never happened to Alpena before. On the surface, it seems just plain neat.
In August we hosted 24 of the world's best and most respected professional bass fishermen for a week-ong tournament on some of our favorite lakes. That in itself was pretty cool. It was great, but that was not the reason why we worked to bring Major League Fishing to Alpena.
I've heard some people comment with disappointment that they wish they could have been involved so they could have met these bass idols. I wish everyone could have been included but unfortunately, the way the tournament was outlined, this wasn't possible. However, it is important to circle back around and remember why Alpena partnered with Major League Fishing in the first place. We didn't do this for us local residents. This was not an event that was recruited for our pleasure.
This is about introducing millions of people across the nation to Alpena. This is about sharing our beloved natural resources with an audience that respectfully aligns with our values. This is about turning, "Alpena? Where is that?" into "Alpena - I can't wait to go there!" This is about bringing people to Alpena and there are three steps to successfully completing this opportunity.
Economic development comes in many forms. One form is a new business moving into town. One is a local company selling their product outside the county lines. Another is tourism. Bringing people into the community generates an infusion of monetary support that increases the financial health of the local economy.
What's even better is that visitors are economic contributors without being major resource consumers. That means the money tourists bring into the community recirculates to the greater benefit of our residents. If you don't believe that tourism benefits Alpena just take a look around at the number of businesses that close or adjust their hours during the winter. This is a direct result of fewer visitors.
So this brings us to our "3 Steps to Success" plan with Major League Fishing. It's important to know what is happening with this even if you don't care for fishing. The impetus is on us for Alpena to achieve success from opportunity.
Step 1: In August, 24 of the world's top professional bass anglers film a documentary reality-style fishing tournament on our Northeast Michigan lakes. ??
Step 2: Footage from the August event is turned into the six-week TV series currently airing on national TV on the Outdoor Channel and the nation is introduced to Alpena and her most accessible, treasured assets.??
Step 3: As a result of publicity surrounding the TV series and outreach efforts from the community, we welcome increased tourism traffic in the summer of 2014 with a plan to WOW! the visitors and win them over as life-long returning guests, vacation property buyers, and potential business relocators, which for us means more jobs, more new money coming into the community, more support for our residential infrastructure, increased property values, and more amenities residents can enjoy.??
Do you see the potential here? It is incredible but Alpena needs your help. If we as a community (residents and local business alike) aren't familiar with the show and don't prepare for increased tourism in summer 2014 then this will only be a blip on the radar and we will miss the opportunity to win over life-long visitors and the recurring economic boost they give the community. ??
This is bigger than Die Hard, People are still talking about the day Die Hard 2 came to town (even though we didn't get an obvious mention in the movie so we are the only ones who know we're there). This is bigger. Major League Fishing has a far-reaching audience of loyal fans who travel to the lakes where the big guys have fished.
In advertising terms, Alpena has never had this far of a reach (nationwide), for this extended time period (92 guaranteed episode airings over 12 months), focusing on something so tangible (enjoying our outdoor resources), to such a perfect audience (a market share that aligns with Alpena's mission and values).
This is the perfect storm for economic development within the tourism sector. The CVB's work to bring the show to film in Alpena is only half the story. The community now has the responsibility to reach out, grab the baton, and keep it running.??
This is a big job and we can't do it alone. Alpena needs you to help take her from Step 2 to Step 3 of the success plan. Step 3 won't happen without you. Will you help her?
Mary Beth Stutzman's Inspiring A-Town runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Mary Beth on Twitter @mbstutz.