Say goodbye to the Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The organization is now called GO Cedar Rapids, president and CEO Aaron McCreight announced Tuesday night to a packed gathering at the Black Sheep Social Club in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Along with the new name, the organization has created a new position, Director of Community Events, Scott Tallman, and plans to unveil a new visitors center inside a vacant vendor booth in NewBo City Market, with the goal of opening June 1.
McCreight said NewBo is a natural location because it sees heavy traffic from both residents and visitors.
The changes come in response to 100 pages of data in a report compiled by Charlotte, N.C.-based Young Strategies. The firm partnered with 18 local organizations to distribute a survey via their visitor databases. Residents and community leaders were also surveyed.
The goal was to learn about visitors to Cedar Rapids, including why they were coming, how long they were staying, what they liked about the city, what they would like to see more of and other information.
One thing they learned, McCreight said, was that people didn’t connect with the “Convention and Visitors Bureau” moniker.
“It sounds clinical, it sounds governmental,” he said. “We want to be an organization that is about the experience and attractions and fun.”
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Another thing they learned was that many visitors are coming to see friends and family. That means locals are the best advocate for the community, McCreight said.
“Go Cedar Rapids is a rally cry for you, for our residents,” he said. “It’s a cheer to get behind.”
It can also be shortened to “GO CR,” a play on words, as in, “go see our trails, our museums, our destinations.”
In addition to highlighting existing attractions, the organization also wants to create new ones. The bureau currently produces two events, Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week and Overalls All Over, and assists partner organizations with dozens of other events, but it will seek to start producing more festivals and events in the future. Tallman was hired to spearhead that effort.
McCreight said it was too early to say what kinds of events the organization might take on, but “The goal is to get to the signature event you can only get in Cedar Rapids,” he said.
He said the total cost for the study and rebranding efforts, including the cost to build a new website, gocedarrapids.com, and create new marketing materials with a new logo, was $80,000.