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Group examines future of tourism in Coweta

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • Apr. 30, 2021 - 5:40 PM

Group examines future of tourism in Coweta

To help with recruiting a president/CEO, a website was created for Explore Newnan Coweta Inc.

Thousands of people visit Coweta County every year, for various tourism related reasons. But one of the biggest things they are looking for doesn't exist.

"So many people come in – from around the globe – they come to see the Alan Jackson museum. And Murder in Coweta County and the Walking Dead," said Cheryl Smith of the Visitor's Center.

But there isn't an Alan Jackson museum, or a museum with things from Murder in Coweta County or The Walking Dead.

The Visitor's Center does have a glass case with some Alan Jackson items on display.

But people are very disappointed that that's all the Alan Jackson items there are to see, said Mark Puckett of the Visitor's Center. The center does have a list of sites important to Jackson, such as the Dairy Queen where he and wife Denise went on dates, his childhood home, and the Ford dealership where he once worked.

Puckett, Smith, and Norma Haynes of the Coweta Convention and Visitors Bureau gave a presentation on the tourism activities at the Visitor's Center at Thursday's meeting of Explore Newnan Coweta Inc.

ENCI is a new "destination marketing organization" made up of local officials and appointees related to the tourism industry. The organization is funded through a 3 cent increase in the hotel motel tax in the city and county.

While ENCI and the CVB are both operating independently, the CVB's activities will likely eventually be merged into ENCI.

Haynes said CVB members and staff wanted to meet with ENCI to talk about what the CVB does and offers.

People come in most weeks looking for information on Murder in Coweta County, Puckett said. The center does have some memorabilia from Margaret Ann Barnes, who wrote the book.

Over the years, the CVB has "worked so hard to get a museum to house all of these things we have," Haynes said after the meeting.

The CVB has a lot of memorabilia – and could get even more if it had a museum to house it in.

"Coweta County is rich in history. We would love to have a museum," Haynes said. She said that recently the CVB sent out letters to city and county officials about working together on a museum but never got a response.

Also at the meeting, the group was updated on the search for the organization's first president/CEO.

When the position was posted several months ago, there were very few highly-qualified applications, so, at the recommendation of executive search firm The Chason Group, the organization tweaked some things.

During the first round, there was one highly-qualified applicant, said Randy Cardoza of The Chason Group. There were several applicants with hotel experience, but not with the kind of tourism and convention and visitors bureau they were looking for.

Cardoza said he thinks there were several reasons for that. ENCI had no web presence, other than newspaper articles. Instead, there was only a web presence for the Coweta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Now ENCI has a website, and the tentative budget for the first year was posted along with the job. The organization has also finalized how health benefits will be provided to the president/CEO. The employees of ENCI will be insured through the city of Newnan's health insurance plan.

Now there are eight excellent candidates, including the one candidate from the first round, Cardoza told the ENCI board Thursday.

He said that, in addition to posting the job in various places, the firm talked with contacts in several cities and with professional organizations. But many people said their timing wasn't right to move jobs right now.

There are three candidates from Coweta, one from Douglasville, two from Atlanta and one each from North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. All have been sent applications and five have responded so far.

Once the applications are in, the consultants will do video interviews and then submit a short list to the ENCI board.

Application packets will be sent to board members on or before May 7, and the group will meet in executive session to discuss applicants on May 13.