By JIM PERRY, Publisher
Gainesville Daily Register
I’m here to say that Gainesville is no longer the best kept secret in Texas. Although Gainesville is widely known in some circles, our fair city has never really maximized it’s image for the tourist trade. Some folks like it that way.
I’m a firm believer in attracting tourism to Cooke County. I’ve said this before, tourism is often an overlooked source of economic development for a region. Millions of cars speeding past us on I-35 does not help us by one dollar unless we can get them to stop here. You and I would probably agree that if they actually do stop, generally speaking, they like what they see. Gainesville has a lot going on but does a traveler on the road between Oklahoma and the Metroplex have a reason to stop for a visit?
The answer is yes, thanks to recent efforts by the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce and other community leaders.
A panel of judges has just completed a nationwide contest sponsored by Rand McNally and USA Today to identify the top five small towns in America. They were looking for the top city to name as the most patriotic, best food, most fun, most beautiful and friendliest. I hope you already know that Gainesville won.
On Monday, at a special media event in Seattle, Washington, Gainesville was officially named the most patriotic small town in America. In terms of national exposure this is the equivalent of a multi-million dollar ad campaign for our city. It includes a new dot on every GPS device, a highlighted point of interest in the new Rand McNally Atlas and inclusion in their online material. The collateral benefits for our community are also enormous. The Travel Channel is highlighting the winners on in an hour-long special on Wednesday, July 25th. A press release claimed that last year’s winner received over 500 million media impressions online, in print media and through other sources. Rand McNally just announced that there have already been over a billion impressions as a result of this year’s contest.
Truth is, this new moniker is a huge boost for our community. When the judges visited Gainesville they were enthralled. One judge was quoted to call us one of the friendliest places she’s ever seen and second to none for patriotism. Both visiting judges were impressed with our unique Medal of Honor Host City Program and our success in bringing the recipients here.
In Gainesville we’re not trying to see how many flags and banners we can put up to win a prize. It’s not about the memorials or programs that we put on. Gainesville has a truly patriotic attitude that comes from the heart. Visitors to our community like it because the people here are real and they care about one another. A sense of patriotism is not just for the people who serve in our military or for showing respect to our armed forces. Although that’s a big part, it’s really how you care for the people who were fought for.
The folks at our Gainesville Chamber of Commerce have said it quite well, “It’s what we do.”