RBC I In the past two-plus years, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society has discussed the need to become involved in heritage tourism. Everyone had become painfully aware of the economic downturn and the toll it was having on our communities, and it was pointed out that heritage tourism was the No. 1 economic driver for Colorado.
What if the historical society could play a role in not only stepping up our efforts to educate our own citizens on our rich history, but also to share it in a way that would bring more tourism to our area?
In 2015, those dreams began to become reality. Over the past year, here’s what has been accomplished:
1. Building acquired on Jan. 6, 2015, in partnership with Rio Blanco County, to house the Heritage Culture Center.
2. Heritage Culture Center Committee formed Jan. 20, 2015.
3. Regular planning meetings held bi-monthly from January to date working through the governance, heritage tourism four-steps with financial planning and tourism assessment.
4. Created a committee logo in February 2015.
5. Established a public use building policy in March 2015.
6. Received a one-time donation of $1,500 from White River Electric Association for start up expenses—March 2015.
7. Applied for grant funding through the Boettcher Foundation for exterior building renovation—April 2015.
8. Facilitated a successful agri-tourism workshop in conjunction with Colorado Tourism Office on June 2, 2015
9. Led the “100 Year Journey” project, providing promotional materials for travelers driving between Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Monument—June 2015.
10. Hosted two character story hour events for children.
11. Presence at community events: Meekerpalooza, Range Call, County Fair, Meeker Sheep Dog Classic.
12. Awarded a CHAMP (Colorado Heritage and Agri-tourism Mentorship Program) grant from the Colorado Tourism Office for strategic planning in April 2015 and a three-day workshop in July 2015.
13. Conducted History Camp in partnership with ERBM Recreation and Park District— July 2015.
14. Initiated the Historical District designation process with submission of application October 2015.
15. Initiated design concepts for the mini-theater by Vanessa Trout in August 2015.
16. Initiated fundraising efforts with a booth at the Meeker Sheepdog Classic in September 2015
17. Provided heritage education demonstration at Meeker Sheepdog Classic in September 2015
18. Determined a scope of work for architectural design services through the University of Colorado, University Technical Assistance program in September 2015 and was awarded Fairfield Trust Grant to fund this service.
19. Partnered with Northwest Colorado Cultural Heritage Tourism to attend the 2015 Heritage Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
20. Provided three historic presentations to the public.
21. Completed strategic planning October 2015.
The Heritage Culture Center Committee (a standing committee under the Rio Blanco County Historical Society) and the Heritage Tourism Task Force are proud to have accomplished so much in 2015 but also are proud to have completed a comprehensive strategic plan for 2016-17 after four months of discussions and collaboration.
The success of producing this plan is largely due to the invaluable guidance of CHAMP (Colorado Heritage Agri-tourism Mentor Program) mentor Constance DeVereaux, who spent three days in Meeker in July educating the committee on strategic planning. She reformulated the mission statement into: “The HCCC believes Rio Blanco County thrives by celebrating its heritage roots!”
She also taught them how to document their goals and objectives. Then she provided follow up suggestions and assistance until the 22-page document was satisfactorily completed.
The strategic plan goals include: renovation, education, identification and agri-tourism. Each of these four goals has clearly defined objectives and project plans to guide the way over the next year.
The No. 1 goal is a renovation of the building at 517 Park Ave. that will create a mini theater, seating 60 to 65 for heritage-themed events for all ages, parties, class education and more with a state-of-the-art movie theater system to bring history to life. The design will be “Old West” to honor our history but also attract tourists who are drawn to American West History!
A key part to the success of this strategic plan is collaboration! The Heritage Culture Center Committee and Heritage Tourism Task Force desire to team up with other organizations on these tourism efforts and they welcome new ideas and involvement!
Dec. 1 was the last meeting of the year. It took place at the Old West Heritage Culture Center.
Link to www.rioblancocounty.org/ heritage-tourism/old-west-heritage-culture-center/ to see the Strategic Plan and other heritage tourism links.