Prince George Prepares for Future Tourism
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Jul 27, 2012, 14:33
Prince George County has issued a Request for Proposals for an economic development and tourism consultant to help the county establish a strategic plan for its future economic development and the promotion of tourism.
Economic Development Director Jeff Stoke likened the development of a new strategic plan to the Comprehensive Plans state code requires localities to develop and update.
“It has to be revised every five years, so you can always evaluate where you are and where you’re going,” he said of strategic plans. “The last time we had an economic development study done was 2007.”
Stoke said the 2007 strategic plan by Basile Baumann Prost & Associates focused exclusively on economic development, while the new plan will take a broader approach.
“This one, we are going to put out an RFP to find a consultant to help us develop a strategic plan that includes economic development and tourism,” he said.
The county has been investing money in sports tourism, purchasing new land for the development of future playing fields and improving existing recreation resources.
“We’re starting to recognize our tourism resources,” Stoke said, describing the county’s growing focus on attracting visitors.
“Tourism is a main economic driver,” Stoke said. “It’s really a beautiful thing. People come in and they spend their money and then they go home.”
The work of the consultants will include performing a “SWOT Analysis” or the county’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and performing detailed research, including a demographic assessment, infrastructure inventory and incentives analysis. A tourism action plan will also be part of the final product.
Proposals are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, August 24. Stoke said he plans to assemble a committee of people from throughout county government to review proposals and hopes to have the board’s approval by September.
“I want the consultants to begin work at some point in September,” he said. “Our time frame is to finish this project this fiscal year, so by June 30 of 2013, we should be done, have a plan, and be moving in the right direction.”
Although Stoke is looking forward to reviewing data and a detailed analysis compiled by the consultants, he wants a one page distillation of that information that will identify clear goals for the county.
He envisions a list of ten goals that the community can identify as things to work towards.
The Prince George Industrial Development Authority, which does not receive funds from the county, has set aside $10,000 for the proposals and the RFP is structured to allow the county room for price negotiations.
Stoke said one thing he hopes to see in the plan is a clear vision for historical tourism to the county.
“As far as tourism goes, I’d like to see a way to get more historical tourism active in the county,” he said.
“We go back to the beginning of the founding of this country and I think we need to embrace that.”