Brighton can be destination, not drive-through

There aren’t many communities that can offer a thriving agricultural economy alongside high-quality cultural arts and unique shopping and dining opportunities within a five- to 10-minute drive. In Brighton and the immediate surrounding areas, there is a wealth of unique activities to entertain and accommodate families, individuals, convention-goers and sporting-event participations. Best of all, these opportunities mean new revenue for the city, which can fund important expansion, development and infrastructure improvements.

In the past, Brighton often has been seen as just a drive-through community linking major interstate highways, or simply a convenient place to stop for gas. With all the unique offerings available in Brighton and the surrounding communities, it’s time to start thinking of Brighton as a destination, and not just a place on the way to elsewhere.

This year, under the direction of the Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce board of directors, the chamber began exploring the possibilities of creating an independent, stand-alone organization that would exist as a marketing engine for the various arts, culture, recreation, dining and shopping experiences in the area. From that direction, and through a generous investment from the city of Brighton Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, the chamber formally established the Greater Brighton Convention and Visitors Bureau. Although still in its infancy, this newly formed 501(c)(6) organization will spearhead efforts to promote Brighton as a destination and draw new visitors — and, most importantly, new revenue — into the area.

Currently and into the upcoming year, the chamber will continue to direct the day-to-day business and operations of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. As part of this function, a working board of directors will be appointed to supplement the chamber-representative board members currently in place. While we are hopeful that the CVB will continue to receive financial investment from city lodging-tax revenues, a strategic plan to recruit investment partners from tourism stakeholders will be put in place to build the long-term financial stability of the new organization.

Some of the major objectives and programs of the CVB include:

Promoting the greater Brighton area as a destination for a day or longer. With the area’s abundance of agritourism, cultural arts, sporting events and historic downtown charm, it’s a perfect getaway for families in the greater Denver area as well as a great stop for tourists en route to other parts of Colorado and beyond. The CVB will engage a variety of promotional and marketing engines including advertising, social media, event production and information dissemination.

Consolidation of marketing efforts to promote the entirety of the community. While the Chamber of Commerce’s membership model affords specialized marketing opportunities for member investors, the CVB serves the entirety of the region. If a business has potential to serve a tourist, the CVB can provide valuable outreach and marketing.

Operation of the Community Resource and Visitor Information Center. Nestled inside Historic City Hall is the currently Visitor Information Center. Staffed by a part-time “Community Concierge” and with ongoing operational support of the chamber, the Visitors Center provides maps, brochures and some inside knowledge about what to see and do in our community. Over the past year, the center has fielded hundreds of calls and served numerous guests (some as far away as Denmark, Finland, Tokyo and Moscow) who need community information. In 2017, the CVB will be seeking strategic partners to staff satellite visitor information centers inside local businesses so that we can serve community visitors when Historic City Hall is closed on weekends and evenings.

We are excited to be part of this new venture, which ushers in not only an economic opportunity, but also an opportunity for collaboration and partnership between key organizations such as the chamber, the CVB, the Brighton Economic Development Corp., BURA, the city of Brighton and the numerous businesses that are poised to serve Brighton’s newest guests. We encourage anyone with thoughts, ideas or the desire to be part of something new to contact us and we would be happy to have you join the effort to help visitors understand why Brighton is a great place to live, work and play.

Holly Hansen is president and chief executive of the Brighton Chamber of Commerce.