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Cottonwood business listening session draws small group to monastery



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Monastery of St. Gertrude

— The seventh of 10 regional “listening sessions” gathered seven people to the Monastery of St. Gertrude Spirit Center in Cottonwood March 23.

Christine Frei and Deb Smith with Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA), in partnership with North Central Idaho Travel Association (NCITA), led the discussion. Frei, executive director at CEDA, said the goal was to look at the types of services necessary to help regional businesses grow.

Representatives from Dog Bark Park and the Monastery of St. Gertrude, both in Cottonwood; Craigmont Chamber of Commerce; Wolf Education & Research Center, Winchester; and Idaho Parks and Recreation at Hells Gate and Winchester Lake attended the four and one-half hour meeting.

This session focused on helping museums, events, chambers, and other tourism-related entities.

“We have an eight-month period in the year when we could grow,” said Charlie Chase, manager at Hells Gate Park.

He said he believes he could market the park regionally to draw more visitors. Frei suggested he try collaborating with local golf courses who consistently draw patrons year-round.

Theresa Hensen with the monastery said since she recently began tracking visitors, they are averaging about 20,000 annually. However, she is hoping to reach a younger generation.

One tool consistently mentioned with positive results was social media.

“To ignore Facebook for your business is to your own peril,” said Francis Conklin, co-owner of Dog Bark Park.

The afternoon discussion revolved around branding a “sense of place” for our region. Smith said a product is something one buys, tourism is an experience. Defining who a community is will help draw out ideas for marketing.

The remaining session in our area will be at Kooskia City Hall, 26 S. Main, Friday, March 31. The topics will again be geared toward attractions, museums, events, chambers, casino, golf courses, etc.



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