Janesville56.8°

Grant to help in gardens' promotion

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
November 10, 2011

Rotary Botanical Gardens leaders hope a $15,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism will help attract people over the holidays.


Although the grant is $5,000 less than requested, Kelli Cameron, executive director at the gardens, still is excited.


"How we packaged this year's grantóshowcasing a hotel partner and packages besides just coming to the gardensówas the biggest selling point," Cameron said.


Cameron answered questions about the grant:


Q: How will the money be used?


A: It will pay for marketing outside of Rock County with the intention of drawing people who normally don't know about Janesville to come and check it out during the holiday season.


The grant helped buy billboards in Walworth County and northern Illinois; Internet website enhancements; online, print and broadcast advertising in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois; and a direct mailing to 3,000 people outside of Rock County.


Q: What sort of economic impact will the grant have?


A: Gardens officials estimate the Holiday Light Show Dec. 16-23 and Dec. 26-31 will attract 675 additional people from outside of Rock County because of the marketing campaign.


The show features more than 300,000 seasonal lights, 150 decorated Christmas trees, nightly entertainment, electric trains and internationally themed activities.


The additional visitors are expected to have an economic impact of $46,305 by using local lodging, dining at restaurants, filling up gas tanks and shopping at businesses.


Q: What matters about this grant?


A: Getting people to visit the gardens, getting word out about the gardens for the Holiday Light Show and getting people to consider coming back to Janesville all year around, she said.


"The more who can share in the celebration at the gardens, then we hopefully can raise more money to support the gardens year around."


Q: With whom is Rotary Gardens partnering to promote tourism here?


A: Rotary Gardens is working with the Janesville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to book bus tours.


The gardens also is partnering with local businesses to create overnight packages that include dinner, snacks, entertainment and hotel amenities during the Holiday Light Show.


"It's looking at what people can afford to do in Janesville and showcasing who Janesville is," she said.


Q: What are the benefits of the marketing effort?


A: Cameron said people know about Janesville because of General Motors closing and the high unemployment rate here, but they're not hearing about the good things happening here.


"So this really is much bigger than the gardens and Holiday Light Show. It's showing people that Janesville is so much more and has a lot to offer adults, families and recreation," she said.



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