GRAFTON—After months of discussions, meetings, planning and coordinating, a merger has finally occurred that will only help to strengthen tourism in Taylor County and help boost the local economy.
Last week, members of All Aboard Grafton, city and county government and the Visit Mountaineer Country Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) met to formally announce the merger between the Greater Morgantown CBV (GMCVB) and the CVBs that serve the city and county.
It is a transfer that Mayor Peggy Knotts Barney said was a move back home. She explained to the group that long ago, there was only one CVB in town, and it was part of Mountaineer Country.
“I am just ecstatic to be here today,” Barney said. “We have so much to offer here in Taylor County, so many little hidden gems that people who are not from here will be excited to see. We have come home and it’s a wonderful thing.”
After attending a meeting nearly two years ago and bringing the information of what he learned back to Grafton, the process started rolling along.
“It all started when Bryan Smith got connected with the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, through the Adventure Club,” shared Tom Hart, All Aboard Grafton Chairman. “It was then that Susan Riddle came to one of our meeting in November or December of 2018, and we thought it was great.”
Hart shared that during that time, there were two CVBs locally, but the set up just wasn’t working out to the best benefit of the area.
“Taylor County had a CVB and the City of Grafton had a CVB and it just wasn’t working, and we were all aware it wasn’t working well,” Hart said.
Because of the size of Taylor County and the limited resources available, officials knew that something had to change.
A meeting was held with the Grafton City Council, the Taylor County Commissioners, Tom Hart of the Grafton CVB, Marvin Gelhausen of the Taylor County CVB, and Bryan Smith that has been working with the merger since the beginning.
Hart said that All Aboard Grafton approached the city and county to combine their CVBs to have only one, because it might better represent the interest of the county.
The group decided to proceed in asking to join the GMCVB by having City Council member, Sheila Westfall author two letters that were signed by the commissioners and the council asking the GMCVB to be Taylor County’s Tourism Agency of Record.
“Low and behold, it went one step further and I applaud the county commission and the city council to not only merge the two entities, but to combine them with the Greater Morgantown CVB, which is now the Visit Mountaineer Country CVB,” Hard commented.
Susan Riddle, President and CEO of the GMCVB met with her executive committee in June and was given the go ahead to proceed. On July 23rd, Riddle met with the board that decided unanimously to include Taylor County.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our region,” expressed Riddle. “These are exciting times and we are excited to begin officially working together.”
She said that through the partnership, the little voices of communities in the tourism arena will now be heard more with a unified message.
“You offer things that we don’t have in Mon County, and we are thrilled with this merger. We are glad to be a part of it,” said Tom Bloom, Monongalia County Commissioner and Visit Mountaineer Tourism board member.
Preston County Commissioner Don Smith said that he thinks the potential for growth within the region is just phenomenal.
“We welcome you into the CVB, and I see nothing but success for all of us,” he added.
Hart said that it is his belief that Taylor County is uniquely situated with the rich history of the area, the options for recreation and other points of interest, that the merger will help to reinvent not just the economy, but the community.
Through the union, there will be a greater reach to announce events that are happening within the area and help draw more guests to the county to experience the wonderful points of interest that exist here.
In turn, the influx of tourism will only mean growth of additional events and opportunities for the county.
In fact to show the dedication of the CVB to promote Taylor County, on February 5, the Visit Mountaineer Country CVB rolled out their new Visit Taylor County Facebook page, that will feature information about happenings and occurrences within the county and nearby.
“We encourage everyone to log on, visit the page and make sure you like it, so that we can help unite everything that there is to offer in Taylor County,” Riddle said. “For Taylor County, our goal is to have 500 followers by July 31st. We are all responsible for lifting the water in the pool.”
So, be sure to log on and check out the page, and if you have an event that you would like to advertise, please reach out to the Visit Mountaineer Country CVB at www.visitmountaineercountry.com.