Nebraska City Tourism & Commerce, Nebraska City government officials, the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp., local business owners, entrepreneurs and community volunteers met Jan. 28 for an all-day Destination Development session to brainstorm about the future of Nebraska City. As a result of that meeting, NCTC Executive Director Amy Allgood, who was part of the Destination Group, asked the city Feb. 15 evening for $5,000 of LB 840 funds to develop phase one of the Destination Tourism Plan for Nebraska City.

During the Feb. 15 Nebraska City City Council meeting, Allgood said the Destination Tourism Plan would utilize “triple bottom line” benefits for the community: revenue, which includes economic impact; resources, which focuses on the natural and built environment; and residents to highlight the quality of life.

“With a solid focus on economy, environment and quality of life, Nebraska City is poised to be the next boutique destination,” she said. “We want to grow Nebraska City to be a destination year-round and not just on the weekends or festival weekends. We want people in our stores and museums and hotels … every night.”

Allgood said a survey was given to local services and tourism industries, which led to a 78-percent response rate. Allgood said that number was surprising and shows that there is interest in the group’s “triple bottom line.

“Sending out this survey was to see people come back with … like the first question was what are you? Are you lodging or a museum? Talking about their growth in the past five years and how they market and putting those things together,” she said.

Allgood said more brainstorming sessions will take place in the future to continue collecting Nebraska City’s benchmark information, such as sales-tax breakdowns, in an effort to grow as a community.

“We want to find out how much we’re already making and grow from there,” she said. “We’re not going to rebrand everything. We’re going to take everything that we already have and take it to the next step.”

Allgood said Dipra Jha, who is a professor of practice in hospitality, restaurant and tourism management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, led the Jan. 28 discussion and encouraged the group to revise Nebraska City’s vision statement. Allgood said the revised vision statement is: “Nebraska City, the Home of Arbor Day, will be a fun and welcoming community while enhancing the quality of life through sustainability, innovation, and culture.”

Allgood said Jha has helped other communities take the next step as a community together to establish their plans.

“Just coming to Nebraska City, he sees that we’re just right there ready to explode,” she said.

She always hears positive feedback about what Nebraska City has to offer visitors, but said marketing Nebraska City needs to be clarified, such as is the community trying to lure small families or retired people?

“One reason that I am excited about this is because I’m a young person with a small family and we love to do small-town things, even when we travel. We like to go to a small town and stay, go boutique shopping, go to museums. But at the end of the day walking through (NCTC’s) door every day are a lot of retired people throughout the week and they just want to know what to do,” she said. “So are we marketing to me or are we marketing to those people that have the extra money, they’re retired and they just want to come up and visit and stroll a day or two. We identified that we want heads in beds two nights a week instead of one night. When they’re here, how do we grow their experience to keep them longer?”

Allgood said businesses need to do more cross-promoting and networking with other local businesses to give visitors more opportunities during their stay.

Pam Frana of NCTC said if the Destination Development group was given the $5,000 then Jha would like to talk to involved businesses one-on-one and determine which “triple bottom line” categories they fall under to help put a tourism plan together.

NCAEDC Executive Director and Economic Development Program fund administrator Dan Mauk told commissioners that $20,000 of LB 840 funding was allocated for tourism this year. The Nebraska City Museum Association was recently approved to receive $16,000 of the total, however, there was extra unused LB 840 funds available from previous years.

Following the public hearing about NCTC using the LB 840 money to develop phase one of the Destination Tourism Plan, commissioners approved for $5,000 of the funding to be used.

(The whole article was published in the Feb. 19 Nebraska City News-Press.)