Tourism group gears

Rural Tourism Studio

Rural Tourism Studio

POLK COUNTY — The first Polk County Rural Tourism Studio meeting on Sept. 17 was a success, Shawn Irvine, Independence economic development director, said.

“The good thing for me was I knew maybe half the people there,” Irvine said. “That’s a good thing because you don’t want the usual suspects.”

Members of the tourism studio steering committee hoped for about 50 participants at that first meeting. Nearly 45 people showed up, Irvine said.

The next networking session is Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Independence Civic Center, 555 S. Main St. It is during this session that Irvine expects participants to dig a little deeper into rural tourism.

“We need to figure out what is it about Polk County, what’s the draw, what’s the common thread that connects all of the different visitor resources,” Irvine said. “People come (to Polk County) for a million different reasons, but there’s usually one or two common threads that we can all kind of hang our hat on.”

He suspects whatever that common thread is, it will be related to the natural beauty and agriculture of the county.

“It’s the rural feel,” Irvine said. “With the rolling hills and pasture lands, but at the same time, you’re close to everything. You don’t have to go to Eastern Oregon and (actually) be in the middle of nowhere to feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.”

Anyone is welcome to participate in the studio workshops. Cost is $5, which covers the cost of food served at the events, Irvine said.

“The biggest value from a business perspective is the networking,” Irvine said. “Travel Oregon is doing this because they want to know what’s here so they can market it to the rest of the state and the world. If you’re a business, what better way than to get right in front of Travel Oregon and say, ‘Look at me, do you want to market me?’”

For more information or to sign up for Tuesday’s networking session:

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