A Pacific Welcome Center could impact the economy by increasing tourism in the city and generate revenue to help sustain the center, according to a report by the mayor’s welcome committee chair.
Pauline Masson presented the recommendations of the committee at the Nov. 6 board of aldermen meeting.
The 10-minute power point presentation outlined strategies to start up and organize a welcome center, which would serve new residents and new businesses as well as prospective new residents and businesses.
The committee was formed March 6 to develop a plan to open a combination welcome center, history museum in the former Hoven house, 115 East Osage St.
After St. Bridget Church withdrew its offer to buy the Wolf house, which houses the history museum, officials determined that it was not economically viable for the city to own two buildings and voted to put the Hoven house on the market.
There were challenges with using the Hoven house as a home for both a museum and visitors center, Masson said.
“The consensus of our committee was that the Red Cedar Inn building was the ideal site for a welcome center and history museum,” Masson said. “However, our approach to the mayor’s instruction was to develop a business plan that could work in any building.”
The projected cost to operate the center with one full time employee is $49,000.
The tourism tax generated $78,000 in 2010. One third of that — $24,000— could be used for a welcome center. The committee identified other revenue generating strategies, such as a gift shop, rental conference room and soda machine, that could increase revenue to $48,000 to $50,000.
“Our consensus was that the revenue would pretty well cover the cost of operation of the building,” Masson said.
The welcome center committee identified more than 100 travel venues within 45 minutes of downtown Pacific.
“Our marketing plan is to encourage visitors to use our motels as a base and visit the recreational, cultural, educational and religious sites at our doorsteps,” Masson said. “The welcome center would accumulate travel brochures, maps and calendars from these tourism destination sites and make them available to visitors.”
The marketing area was defined in three concentric circles with the city of Pacific at the center. The welcome center would develop city maps, pinpointing tourism sites such as the Civil War Cannon on Blackburn Park and the train watching venue in Pacific Station Plaza, have on hand menus for local restaurants, and a calendar of all city civic events.
The second circle would be destinations at our doorstep, such as Shaw Nature Reserve, Purina Farms and the Meramec River.
The third circle is destination within 45 minutes from Pacific, such as the wine districts, trails, antiquing sites, wilderness areas and major league sports at the downtown St. Louis riverfront.
“The focus would be on keeping our motels full year-round,” Masson said.
Mayor Herb Adams said he would like for other organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Pacific Partnership, to see the presentation.
“Everything that we’ve done recently has involved partnerships,” Adams said. “I’d like to see if there could be a partnership to operate the welcome center.”
In addition to Masson, welcome center committee members are John Behrer, Shaw Nature Reserve; Diane Goode, travel photographer; Jo Schaper, River Hills Traveler assistant editor; Brenda Wiesehan, Meramec Valley History Museum representative; Brian Knight, Chamber of Commerce representative; Alderman Jerry Eversmeyer; and City Engineer Dan Rahn.
Adams appointed the committee to develop a plan to open and operate a welcome center.
“The welcome center is not dead,” Adams said. “If more people can see the plan that the committee has outlined for a welcome center it’s possible a partnership could be formed for some civic groups to join the city in developing a welcome center.”