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
Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center
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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.
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And this is gonna be a new way for us to hopefully get people interested in the region and again,
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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.
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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.