Workshop to stimulate tourism slated

Published 10:21 am Monday, October 9, 2017

The Cumberland Gap Region Tourism Association is excited to announce its partnership with the Southeast Community College program called “Selling to the World.”

The partnership will produce a series of eight entrepreneurial workshops in five of the ten counties of the Cumberland Gap region. These workshops will focus on “Small Entrepreneurial Business Development and Marketing.” Even though the location of the workshops will be limited to five counties, which are specified in the ARC Grant. Residents of any Kentucky, Tennessee, or Virginia County may attend.

This introductory Workshop will emphasize the two purposes for which the Cumberland Gap Region Tourism Association was formed. Firstly, the promotion of the tourism industry in the region while working toward the goal of making this region a destination to where tourist will want to visit, stay, play, and spend money. Secondly, the promotion of small, mostly mom-and-pop, businesses within the region. Tourists normally do not come to a region to eat at a national chain restaurant or shop at a mall. They seek out the local cuisine and shop at local craft, antique, and gift shops where they can get a taste, feel, and become a part of the local experience. Helping small businesses to grow and become successful is the most efficient way of attracting visitors. This workshop will emphasize to business owners that they are no longer selling to their neighbors; they are selling to the world.

In 2015 the national expenditures of Tourism spending in the United States totaled $2.49 billion. Only eight years from now, 2025, that number is predicted to double. This region as a whole, including state, county, and local governments, attractions, businesses, and the general public MUST plan ahead and be prepared to accommodate this predicted phenomenal growth. If our region is not prepared we may forever lose the opportunity to boost the economic impact of Tourism spending in our already economically depressed region. The best way to prepare businesses for the increase in tourism traffic is through education. This could be our golden opportunity to replace the lost revenue due to the downsizing of tobacco production in Tennessee and Virginia and the coal industry in Kentucky and Virginia.

The focus of this workshop will be to introduce owners and or managers of small businesses in the region to this FREE program being offered through Southeast Community College. During this introductory Workshop it will be explained how small business owners can better market and promote their small Hometown businesses to the world. It will further explain how this program can (1) provide the skills and knowledge to start a business utilizing the internet to earn supplemental income. (2) It will teach entrepreneurs how to promote locally made items and help owners sell those items locally, regionally, and internationally. (3) it will provide personal one-on-one communication to identify each individual’s need. (4) it will provide free workshops based on each personal need. (5) it will encourage local Artisan, Crafts People, entrepreneurs, start-up businesses, service providers, established downtown merchants, and other business owners to take advantage of this FREE program providing services to local entrepreneurs for up to two years.

The Cumberland Gap Region Tourism Association will offer to play a significant role in the marketing and promotion of the products and services produced by our regional small businesses via (1) our website, (2) through our local and National media advertising, (3) through our weekly Constant Contact emails, and (4) by conducting community and educational forums such as this workshop.

Another valuable asset of this partnership is having both the “selling to the world” program and the Cumberland Gap Region Tourism Association as resources as these entrepreneurs sell their products and tourism, in the Cumberland Gap region, to the world.

We will be scheduling these workshops during the months of October and November in the counties of Claiborne, Harlan, Bell, Lee, and Knox. The other five counties are encouraged to refer anyone in their counties, who are starting a business or struggling with a business, to come to one of the workshops and become part of this Southeast Community College program and begin “selling to the world.”