By Joel Hall
The Clayton County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB) recently took proactive steps to improve the image of Clayton County by hiring a full-time marketing and communications manager.
After a year-long search, the CCCVB hired Megan Spears, whom, prior to coming to Clayton County, worked as the tourism and special events coordinator for the Eatonton-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.
Spears plans to use the new position to promote Clayton County as a hot spot for nature tourism, genealogical research, and amateur sporting events.
"I feel like that is an untapped market for us and is something that we can really get into," said Spears. She said Clayton has a number of parks and wildlife preserves which are currently underutilized by the public, such as the Reynolds Nature Preserve, the Newman Wetlands Center, and Clayton County International Park.
"Let's face it, we need good news," said Spears. "One of the parts of my job is getting the word out about all the good things happening in Clayton County. It will shape the way that other counties and communities see Clayton County."
Spears brought attention to the fact that the county is also a hot spot for history buffs, particularly those interested in genealogical research -- a topic with "huge" national appeal, she said. She hopes to promote the national and state archives in Morrow to historians, travel writers, reunion groups, and anyone interested in exploring their personal history.
"We want to get the good news out about the county," said Pat Duncan, president and CEO of the CCCVB. In addition to hiring a full-time marketing manager, he said the CCCVB now has three billboards along Interstate 75 -- two put up within the last 60 days -- which promote Clayton County's attractions.
"We want all those people driving up and down [Interstate] 75 to know that Clayton County is here," he said.
Duncan added that while the county lacks convention space, it has a wealth of outdoor and indoor sporting complexes.
In order to promote the area as a destination for youth and amateur tournaments and sporting events, the CCCVB is in the process of forming a Sports Council with the counties of Henry, Fayette, and Coweta. The council will leverage the area's affordable hotels as a lure for coaches and sport organizers.
"They've never had anyone in my position before," said Spears. "The positive aspects ... we're going to push as hard as we can."