Create Bridges: Small Business - Big Rural Impact

Episode 11: A Regional Approach to Promoting Your Business

February 11, 2021 Create Bridges AR Season 1 Episode 11
Create Bridges: Small Business - Big Rural Impact
Episode 11: A Regional Approach to Promoting Your Business
Show Notes Transcript

On today’s episode, Brandon Mathews is joined by Cathy Drew, Executive Director of Ozark Gateway Tourist Council, and Gloria Sanders, Executive Director of the Calico Rock Community Foundation and Museum and Visitors Center.  A host of topics were discussed including the benefits of being a member of Ozark Gateway, why the whole community needs to be on board when it comes to promoting an area; opportunities for reaching markets outside of Arkansas, and some new programming launching in the region soon.


Ozark Gateway Tourist Council




Phone: 870-793-9316



Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center




Phone: 870-297-6100

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Come join us, explore the impact of small business here in rural Arkansas.

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What challenges would you face if you opened a small business who can help you meet those challenges?

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How do you get in touch with others like you? This is great. Bridges, Arkansas.

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And we invite you to come cross these bridges with us. On today's episode, I'm joined by Kathy Jr.

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Executive director of Ozark Gateway Tourist Council, and Gloria Sanders,

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executive director of the Calico Rock Community Foundation Museum and Visitor's Center.

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We discussed a host of topics, including the benefits of being a member of the Ozark Gateway,

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why the whole community needs to be on board when it comes to promoting an area opportunities

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for reaching markets outside of Arkansas and some new programing launching soon in the region.

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If you like our podcasts. Be sure to leave a review and subscribe. Thanks.

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I hope you enjoy. Kathy, we'll have you start.

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Will you introduce yourself, tell us your name, your title and your organization and what you will do?

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Sure. I'm Kathy Drew. I'm the executive director of Ozark Gateway Tourist Council.

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We are a nonprofit regional tourism association, one of 12 Arkansas tourism's associations in the state.

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We promote tourism and relocation across eight counties which are Fulton.

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Independents is or Jackson. Lawrence Randolph, Sharp and Stone Counties.

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And we've been around since about 1961 and we're funded by Arkansas Tourism.

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And they were created by our founding father, Leo Rainey, back during that time.

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Fifty nine. Nineteen sixty one. Great.

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Thank you. Gloria. We go into the same. Give us your name, your title.

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What organization you're with and what you all do. My name is Gloriant Sanders and I'm the executive director of the Kalka Rock Community Foundation,

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which in an umbrella takes care of the Chemical Rock Museum and also has Kalka Rock Main Street Network program.

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And I am the executive director for all of that. We are a nonprofit organization.

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We get our funding through grants and through a little bit of assistance.

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We are privately owned, not funded by the state. All right.

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Thank you very much. Well, ladies, I am so eager to get into today's episode.

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This has been one I've been anxiously anticipating. It's been a couple of months trying to get that settle down.

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But I'm super excited to be able to sit down and talk with you all, Kathy,

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and say we've got somebody listening today on the podcast who has heard of Ozark Gateway, but they don't really know how to get involved with you.

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Can you explain what it means to be a member of your organization and kind of

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the benefits and impact you have on the community and for business owners,

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for people that would like to be a member? First of all, it's a tax deductible membership because we are a nonprofit as well.

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We offer members memberships to any business and or outside of our region.

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And the good thing about being a member of the region is that list you on our Web site,

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which has over a million visitors each year and also gets you the opportunity to submit advance to us for our Web site.

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Or if you have information about your business,

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you would like us to blow out to our media outlets such as like our Facebook or Twitter or other outlooks.

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We could do that. We have other means of helping promote.

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We have a co-op program for nonprofit and also for for profit businesses on

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different levels where they can reach out to us for help promoting their business.

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So there are many ways that we can help local businesses prosper.

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And our goal is to encourage people to visit the area and enjoy what we already know is a great place to vacation or even retire to or relocate to.

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Why certainly fall into that last category of relocate, you know, moving our our family up here and we love it living in this area.

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Gloria, you all at the. Muzeum are a member of Ozark Gateway,

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and I'd like for you to maybe share what how it's impacted you guys and why you guys

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see the importance of being a member and in advertising being a part of Ozark Gateway.

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Well, Kathy waisman with us from the beginning.

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We use them when when the chamber was here, which we no longer have.

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And they've helped us with assistance with with the doing brochures.

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Kathy is really great about coming out and helping to support all of the events that we have.

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It's it's just, you know, I I've been active with it. All right.

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Well, really not on and off, but pretty much on for the last twelve years.

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So it's it's obviously a great organization. And I, I promote it all the time.

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We haven't a band or anything. Coming up. I send everything to Kathy. She gets it out there and she she's real good about that.

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And I sent very few places that you can actually get an answer within the same day.

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Most cases, you don't get it from here every day that way. But she's getting it out there real quick and answering.

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So it's it's really advantageous to be part of it. Gary and Kathy, would you add any of that?

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You know, you work with all types of different businesses and industries, obviously,

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and that create bridges program, we focus on retail, entertainment, accommodation and tourism related businesses.

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But can you give us a few examples of other types of businesses that you guys partner with or have become members over the years?

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We work with anybody from a bank to real estate brokers all the way to horseback riding,

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businesses, lodging, just basically any any business in the region can be a member.

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And, you know, we're happy to work with everybody in and everybody benefits in one way or another from the enemy of the region.

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They really do, and the fact that they and they keep up with the everyday things, you know, for instance, I did.

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Was a year ago when Adam did or two years ago. Kathy. Time's flying.

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When Adam did that, the drone coming through. And I mean, you keep up with really doing everything for everybody.

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It's not just singled out to an area that maybe that is just board members.

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I do the whole area in. Can you talk a little bit of why it's important to promote as a region?

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You know, for example, I know you guys have the.

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The magazine that highlights all the different communities and towns, you know, you can you can flip to Calico Rock or,

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you know, Hardy or mangement spraying and see these different communities or, you know, ash fly and see what else they are.

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But part of the challenge and also the opportunity is the more people you have listed in the community, the better it looks.

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So can you talk a little bit about getting more people on board and why it's

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important to really get the whole community to buy in tourism in Arkansas?

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I'm looking at the two thousand eighteen figures was over a seven billion dollar a year industry.

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So that's billion with a B. That's how many people come to the area and spend money and stay.

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And that being the number two industry,

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that lets you know the importance of items like our magazine and so forth to encourage people to visit because when they visit, they spend money.

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That money not only goes into that community that they're staying at, but it changes hands several times.

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And so it actually helps that community that count county in that region prosper.

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So the importance of keeping those tourism dollars coming into the state are very vital.

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Gloria, would you add anything?

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Well, one of the things, Kathy has a very active board and there is a member from each of the different districts and within her area,

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within the region, and they're all very active in making sure that everything is kept up with.

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We had a gentleman that was on that one. For how long was young Kathy? Oh, gosh.

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Probably close to 30 years, 20 to 20 to 30 years.

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He's recently passed away. And he was just a really, really I mean, I just laugh because we would go to the conference.

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We would go to their dinners on the yearly dinners, and one time we got lost.

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Remember when we got lost in the middle of that ducktails? Yeah.

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You had a map of the road. We drove around for two and a half hours finding fun place.

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But, you know, everybody cares about what's happening in this area.

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That's the nice thing about being here. Those of us that are in this business, we care about what's happening with our neighbors.

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It's not this is just mine. I'm going to do what's good for me.

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This is an area that we work together. And I think that's an important factor.

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And those are all the waisman they are to help us and to do whatever needs to be done.

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When we started doing the magazine, the magazine that we did, I called Kathy and she said, yeah, we'll partner with you.

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We'll help you. There's not anything I mean, obviously, there's going to be limits.

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But I did. But I can do. But they're really active trying to help.

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And that's the big thing. Russ. I want to pivot and and talk about opportunities and trends we see.

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We've just finished what has probably been one of the worst years in modern history for tourism.

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We have all seen directly how it impact our communities. We've seen business closures.

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We've seen loved ones pass away. And in those terrible times and sadness, we've also seen some new businesses grow.

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We've seen some industry come to the area. And so there are other things that are promising and optimistic on the horizon.

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Are there any trends when it comes to tourism and marketing advertising that you're seeing that, hey,

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maybe our community can either get involved with that now or something that maybe we

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are doing that maybe some of our other regions in the state and surrounding states?

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As a matter of fact, aren't doing that. We're maybe doing a good job of really and truly.

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The big thing for us in 2020 has probably been social media, which I'm sure it's been big for everybody.

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But that has been a huge outlet for us to not only tell people what we have going on,

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but to kind of let them know if someone is not having a movie or, you know, other things that might be going on.

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But another big thing for us, which, you know, is important for us to reach people outside the state would be TV advertising.

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And, you know, and they seem to be really working with people with good rights for TV ends in one of our good markets has been Springfield, Missouri.

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In the big thing about ZEM is people from that area are looking for places like our state,

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which are small, not as populated as some of the other states.

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And same thing for our towns and especially our region, because our region has communities that are small.

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They're not heavily packed with people.

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So people are feeling safe to come visit communities like our region offers, which allows people to social distance.

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And they'll. Gloria, I guess kind of the same, do you when you know museums and you guys, this industry,

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what are kind of some of the trends you're seeing among some of your peers and in other cities and states?

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Well, for us, the biggest thing is we've all had to learn how to do a lot more virtual and different things.

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So we weren't necessarily. So what it does is it makes you be a little bit more proactive as far as what you're

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doing in the building and trying to make sure that it can be done virtually as well.

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Where would we would do a demonstration? We have to think about how Happyland House is going to show up.

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Yeah. Virtually. How do you get the people? Virtually. How do you go about any of those?

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So and all of the museums that I've spoken to in the area is quite active with the Arkansas Museum Association.

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So for them. Everybody starting out and everybody a lot of them are still not even opened.

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They're not you know, they're just afraid and rightfully so.

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Some of the things that we were we were doing, we are not doing.

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We're thinking about trying to do some podcasts, trying to do something different, because we've got to get the people to know that we're here.

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And it's important for them to know that we're here.

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And so just like anything else, you know, if you don't have come through the door here, you're hurting.

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And right now we're open and we've changed our hours a little bit around for this time of year because would normally we're up from nine to five.

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This year, we're only gonna be up from nine and 10 excuse me, ten. Nine to ten.

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I wish now Taneda to four, but that's OK.

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But so. And see what we can try to do that way.

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And then as people start showing up and doing more, then we'll change our hours to accommodate.

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What we have learned more than anything is that you have to you have to be flexible.

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You have to really know how can you change this to make it virtually.

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How can you do something and leave me version of this?

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I'm not a tech person, so it's really hard for me to learn all of a sudden all this tech stuff and I'm getting at.

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But I'm a little old to start learning now. Nonsense.

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In fact, I have to interject and make a plug.

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Gloria, you all have helped us with some of our video series on helping businesses in our communities get online.

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You know, we we've done a series of videos for Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google,

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my business just to try to elevate the presence of our businesses that are here.

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So people know, you know, when the state started lifting lockdown restrictions, that, hey, we're still here.

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We still have summer and fall. We're ready. We are taking precautions to keep everybody safe.

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And we want you to come visit our communities. I mean, just like you said, Kathy, the fact that we're not in a heavily populated area,

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the fact that when you get your car in and travel for forty five minutes,

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you can actually go forty five miles and get somewhere versus the congestion of cities.

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I mean, those are all assets to our region and it's really important.

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So, Gloria, you certainly helped us in that. And I do not undercut yourself with the technology.

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Appreciate it. Because I certainly don't like. I get on the phone sometimes I can kill.

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And she runs over and helps Nathan. Side note, the camp Gloria is referring to is Campanaro.

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She manages a marketplace in downtown Calico Rock.

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It's a place where there's a collection of vendors and retailers in one location on historic Main Street.

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And it's also a division of the Calico Rock Community Foundation, where all of its proceeds benefit the community's revitalization efforts.

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If you hadn't had a chance to check it out, you should. There's some pretty cool stuff there.

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Now back to the podcast. You know, I don't know who's who's gonna be listen this episode,

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but I imagine all types of industry you guys probably have goals for, you know, how many members you'd like to have.

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You always want to grow because the more you guys do, the better it is for the region and in promoting us holistically.

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But what are some industries or areas that you look forward to,

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maybe having a few more members or getting to elevate or advertise in our in our communities?

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Some of the businesses I would like to see grow are more of the lodging places, whether it be a cabin or a house that someone rents on.

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One of the online accounts or for that is not business.

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I can't think of the names of those, but some of those businesses, restaurants,

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having more restaurants listed on our Web site in our magazine helps people that are coming and know what the area offers.

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And it's really good to have businesses like that.

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And the more you have, the more variety you have, the more apt people are to stay longer and enjoy your area.

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Kathy, another question for you. If you have, say, a business or nonprofit is listening to this and they're on the fence about working with you,

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what would be your call to them to say, hey, you know, our gateway can be a great resource for you?

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What's your your elevator pitch for that? Well, first of all, the membership is very affordable, especially for the small businesses.

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You're looking at fifty dollars for a year. And the good thing about that is you don't have to pay fifty dollars, Gisburne, when you join.

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You can pay that out over the years. So you pay five dollars a month.

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And with that, you can get posted on our social media and we can do blogs about your business and so forth and so on.

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If you want to submit a news release to us, we'll be happy to share that on our blog and social media.

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So that's some of the good reasons.

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And then plus, they also if they are like, say, a restaurant, real estate, lodging outfit or campground type place,

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they can get a listing in our visitor guide with which will, of course, reach over a hundred thousand people.

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Plus, it's also on our Web site. And then they also get a link on our Web site that will link back to their Web site.

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So for that small amount, for a membership, they can really reach a lot of people and get a lot of support from us.

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Gloria, the same question to you.

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If you knew you have a colleague or someone who was like, yeah, we're thinking about maybe joining Ozark Gateway, what would you say to them?

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I would tell us what it would be definitely worth. Number one, they're 50 dollars.

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There's a lot of advantageous parts to it. The magazine, as Catherine said, a Web site.

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And they do a lot of Facebook. I don't do Twitter, so I can't say speak for that or Instagram.

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I'm getting booked up for all this other stuff.

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It's hard not keeping up with what we're doing right now. So I would definitely add that they've just been a great partner to deal with.

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I just really can't say enough about it. Kathy knows I've worked with them for 12 years, at least that long, if not before,

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because I had a business in town and worked with it before that, too. So I just definitely think that it's a great thing to do.

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To both of you, is there anything else that maybe you want to share that we haven't touched on something that we have name that sticks in to start in?

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We're in the learning process of it,

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but it's through Arkansas tourism and they have agreed to only allow the regional associations to do this in the state.

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But it's it was released last year at the governors conference through their art tank competition.

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And it's a game that won the competition.

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And we have agreed to purchase one of these games. And what we're looking at is a scavenger hunt which will focus on our region.

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And in this scavenger hunt, it will be like in each community and like a stop or two where people will have to go,

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maybe take a photo in front of the museum and Calico Rock, or they can do that virtually.

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So if they're afraid to travel, they can go find that museum online,

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find their website site and envisat it and send a screenshot or something back to show that they did go to that site.

00:20:51,140 --> 00:20:58,370
And this is gonna be a new way for us to hopefully get people interested in the region and again,

00:20:58,370 --> 00:21:07,820
reach those people that are afraid to get out and travel, but then also encourage some people to travel in while we're encourage them to travel.

00:21:07,820 --> 00:21:12,040
We're also going to encourage them to be site. All right.

00:21:12,040 --> 00:21:20,470
Any sneak peek listings of places we can look forward to trying to find an Easter eggs for sure.

00:21:20,470 --> 00:21:27,550
Since we're in Calico Rock right now with Gloria, we are going to have the museum as a stock.

00:21:27,550 --> 00:21:34,460
You know, in other other towns, we've not really got a secure or last.

00:21:34,460 --> 00:21:41,870
But, you know, in Mountain View, you know, I'm sure we'll go to the Ozark folksinger and places like that famous spring,

00:21:41,870 --> 00:21:45,770
we'll go to the state park in other places like that.

00:21:45,770 --> 00:21:52,420
But I think it's going to be fun in this game is going to be promoted by Arkansas tourism on Arkansas dot com.

00:21:52,420 --> 00:21:58,450
So it's going to be a great way to reach people. And it's also going to be heavily promoted by IBM.

00:21:58,450 --> 00:22:04,240
There is some kind of cool prize or do we get a certificate from the state? We're working on that.

00:22:04,240 --> 00:22:09,550
Hopefully we're going to have like a top three at the year and prizes.

00:22:09,550 --> 00:22:14,410
And then also we're going to have hopefully coupons throughout the scavenger hunt.

00:22:14,410 --> 00:22:21,280
So, like, if they go to Calico Rock, they might get a coupon to one of the restaurants for 10 percent off or something.

00:22:21,280 --> 00:22:28,480
But we are going to work on that to make it fun, fun, and also make it rewarding to the scavenger.

00:22:28,480 --> 00:22:35,600
Both you know that my daughter travels with me a lot. She'll be three in April and she will just love that.

00:22:35,600 --> 00:22:40,990
Anytime we go through town, we're always stopping in. And you know that big chair there in Calico Rock?

00:22:40,990 --> 00:22:44,980
I can't you can't go past that without her, you know, whooping and hollering about.

00:22:44,980 --> 00:22:46,690
I want to get in that chair and want to get in that chair.

00:22:46,690 --> 00:22:51,820
So I'm sure you guys are going to find a lot of cool things across the all the different counties up here.

00:22:51,820 --> 00:22:59,920
So I'm really looking forward to that. Gloria, any other things that you want to share that we didn't touch we on Main Street?

00:22:59,920 --> 00:23:06,530
We have a lot of things going on. We are now part of the Arkansas Main Street Association, which makes a difference.

00:23:06,530 --> 00:23:12,310
We're not hot. We are on the network end of it, not as a full fledged, but we still have that.

00:23:12,310 --> 00:23:19,060
And we're working on that content and do some promoting on Main Street, bringing in some businesses.

00:23:19,060 --> 00:23:24,820
Right. He didn't say Kalikow about 10 years ago or even seven years ago when there wasn't really much there.

00:23:24,820 --> 00:23:28,140
When we opened the museum, things really changed.

00:23:28,140 --> 00:23:33,850
Then we have we still have a couple of empty buildings that we're working on trying to get things fixed up.

00:23:33,850 --> 00:23:39,040
But it's really been a tremendous transformation here in Calgary.

00:23:39,040 --> 00:23:44,410
Our museum in the South when we opened that, we hope in April, that's our chance,

00:23:44,410 --> 00:23:49,720
because right now we've got 14000 square feet downstairs waiting for me to do exhibits.

00:23:49,720 --> 00:23:54,660
And it's a little slow right now, trying to do it because there's only two of us.

00:23:54,660 --> 00:23:59,500
Well, there's more than two, but two of us are doing most of the majority of the exhibiting.

00:23:59,500 --> 00:24:04,150
So and of course, all the exhibits are going 3-D and interactive.

00:24:04,150 --> 00:24:08,080
So it's really a lot different than what we used to do.

00:24:08,080 --> 00:24:11,110
Museum field has changed a lot and a lot.

00:24:11,110 --> 00:24:20,470
Of course, by doing the interactive, you can do something with a visual, you know, with the pods and with the zooms and everything else,

00:24:20,470 --> 00:24:24,250
because it's not just look again something now you're seeing something move,

00:24:24,250 --> 00:24:29,650
you're seeing something happening, and that makes all the difference in the world. So we're really trying.

00:24:29,650 --> 00:24:34,600
And like I said, we're not. Thank goodness that we've got good partners.

00:24:34,600 --> 00:24:39,670
All right, ladies. Kathy, we'll start with you. How can people get a hold of you if they want more information?

00:24:39,670 --> 00:24:44,170
And what are you guys on as far as social media and a digital presence?

00:24:44,170 --> 00:24:49,030
We are on Twitter, Facebook.

00:24:49,030 --> 00:24:55,060
Facebook is our main outlet. We we have a lot more success with Facebook.

00:24:55,060 --> 00:25:02,580
Twitter is is good. We still have a hard time getting used to keeping tweets short.

00:25:02,580 --> 00:25:08,640
So it's sometimes somewhat hard for us older folks to keep our wording reduced

00:25:08,640 --> 00:25:13,920
to that small amount that they can find us on Facebook at Ozark Gateway,

00:25:13,920 --> 00:25:21,090
or our name is also a Gateway Tourist Council. Our Web site is Ozark Gateway dot com.

00:25:21,090 --> 00:25:27,660
We have a one 800 number, which is eight hundred two six four zero three one six.

00:25:27,660 --> 00:25:33,000
And if you don't call me in the middle of the night, a great way to get in touch with me is my cell phone.

00:25:33,000 --> 00:25:38,100
You can see me. It takes it's we decided to leave Kathie's phone number out.

00:25:38,100 --> 00:25:40,890
We didn't want her getting any of those late night texts.

00:25:40,890 --> 00:25:45,810
So if you need to get a hold of her, I'm sure she'll be glad to give it out personally one on one.

00:25:45,810 --> 00:25:52,050
But those are the best ways to reach out to us. Gloria, how do we get in contact with you?

00:25:52,050 --> 00:25:58,380
Let me tell you the secret to the cell phone. I have to turn it off. Janet doesn't come back until 7:00.

00:25:58,380 --> 00:26:03,480
There you go. So it automatically does it. It's on your cell phone.

00:26:03,480 --> 00:26:06,450
Well, we are in Calico Rock Down. I went all five Main Street.

00:26:06,450 --> 00:26:16,710
And of course, we are open to stay through Saturday right now from Chenda, for we also have a Web site called Karak Museum dot com.

00:26:16,710 --> 00:26:23,400
We are on Facebook. We are on Instagram for some reason or another and shows up in my name and set up museum.

00:26:23,400 --> 00:26:28,500
And we're put all this museum stuff on it. So we're working on that.

00:26:28,500 --> 00:26:34,170
But we have a Facebook page. So those are the ones that we work. Actually, we have three Facebook pages.

00:26:34,170 --> 00:26:38,920
We have a kind rock museum. We have the marketplace. And we also have artisan cooperatives.

00:26:38,920 --> 00:26:43,740
So all three of those. But we have one Web site. We're working on a couple others.

00:26:43,740 --> 00:26:50,230
But somebody has to make changes when they're there. So it's it's getting down to it.

00:26:50,230 --> 00:26:57,630
We do have a phone number and landline, which is eight seven zero two nine seven sixty one hundred.

00:26:57,630 --> 00:27:04,980
And I'm not giving you my cell phone number. You've already got.

00:27:04,980 --> 00:27:11,400
Well, ladies, thank you so much for joining me today. I've had a great time and I learned some things that I didn't know.

00:27:11,400 --> 00:27:16,500
And I look forward to just seeing great things coming out of both your communities and your organizations.

00:27:16,500 --> 00:27:21,450
And just thank you again for the work you all do. Thanks again for listening to our podcast.

00:27:21,450 --> 00:27:26,190
If you enjoyed this. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review. It really helps us out.

00:27:26,190 --> 00:27:34,900
Stay tuned for the next episode and we'll see you again soon.

00:27:34,900 --> 00:27:41,540
For more information about this or any great Bridges podcast or more about Great Bridges, Arkansas, visit you.

00:27:41,540 --> 00:27:50,470
Yes, Scott PDU Slash Create Bridges. The Great Bridges Arkansas podcast is made possible by Wal-Mart Grant to the University of Arkansas System,

00:27:50,470 --> 00:27:55,480
Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension, Community, Professional and Economic Development Unit.

00:27:55,480 --> 00:28:03,724
And with the cooperation of Spring River Innovation Hub and White River Now Productions.