What An Elected Official Who Gets It Sounds Like

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<span>What An Elected Official Who Gets It Sounds Like </span>
Bottom Line:

It is beautiful music to our ears when we hear an elected official who understands the essential nature of a destination organization's work. Here is an example of one we heard recently.

umbrella display in Wausau

Meet Incumbent Sarah Watson who is running for re-election for the Wausau District 8 alderperson position in the upcoming April 2 election. Ms. Watson is facing challenger Josh Dirks for that seat on the Wausau City Council. We came across Ms. Watson in one of our routine searches for political statements about destination organizations.  What caught our attention was an answer to a question posed by the Wausau Daily Herald, which asked both candidates to address essential issues in the city and why they were running for the position. The following is what caught our attention. 

QUESTION: What makes Wausau a destination for visitors and new residents and how would you continue to make attracting people to the community a priority if you are elected to the City Council? 

Sarah Watson headshot

WATSON: Our natural spaces, recreational amenities and small community feel with wonderful entertainment establishments are key to emphasize. As alder and future supervisor for District 8, I will continue to approve room tax dollars used on the wonderful events that happen in Wausau like Taste N Glow, Artrageous weekend and the like. Additionally, I will ensure that the Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau continues their great work advocating for Wausau as a place to come and visit and move here to live. 

This was beautiful music to our ears.  

Visit Wausau (the Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau) is branding the area as “Wisconsin’s Basecamp,” which merges the outdoor recreation and the urban amenities of the area so well. The destination organization describes Wausau as “the employment, transportation, healthcare and cultural hub of the region. Wausau is proud of a vibrant downtown, outstanding local arts scene, and a growing urban waterfront along the Wisconsin River.” The city of Wausau describes the community as the place “where you belong.” They describe it as “the perfect balance of city and country” where they have “four seasons of fun, both indoor and outdoor.” 

Wausau’s strategic plan starts with a goal of workforce retention, talent attraction, and new business investment. The document states, "like many communities across the U.S., businesses are still trying to determine how to fit into the post-COVID economy. Rising inflation and supply chain issues affect every aspect of life for residents and businesses. At the same time, Wausau is experiencing record levels of new construction that will positively impact the city’s revenue. The city has continued its strategic focus on diversifying the housing options available in the community, expanding manufacturing jobs in the Wausau business campus, and partnering with Marathon County Development Corporation (MCDEVCO) to facilitate gap financing needed by businesses.”  

Wausau’s goal is to develop strategies and services to support not only existing businesses and workers but also attract and retain a skilled workforce and innovative businesses. What is so great about Ms. Watson’s answer to the newspaper's question about this issue is that she understands the essential role that destination promotion and Visit Wausau's work play in achieving this goal.  

Destinations International believes that a destination organization’s purpose is to help the community achieve its goals by leveraging the power of destination promotion.  

The fabric of every community is woven with unique stories, cultures, and experiences waiting to be discovered by residents and visitors alike. At the heart of this discovery is the vital work of destination organizations. Our world is vast and diverse, and the role of destination organizations is to serve as a bridge that connects people to places, allowing them to explore, celebrate, and appreciate the uniqueness of each community. A destination organization’s purpose is to attract visitors and cultivate an environment in which a community thrives as an ideal place to visit, live, work, play, and invest. And they do it for the betterment of the community.

And Sarah Watson seems to understand that. 

About the Author

Jack Johnson

Chief Advocacy Officer
Destinations International

Jack manages the overall public policy operations at Destinations International including member advocacy education and training, development of destination tools and best practices, coalition work with peer organizations, industry research and related public affairs activities. Jack is a 2021 Smart Meetings Magazine’s Catalyst Award winner and one of Successful Meetings’ 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry in 2018.

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