Community Meeting: 2/2/2017
6:30 pm at Morehead's Country Store Irwinville, GA
Call to order by Brian Gentry
Jannis Paulk with AllCore Marketing led the meeting. Ms. Paulk was contracted as a consultant by the family of Mr. JB Clements to assist in the development of a plan to coordinate resources and to create and assist in implementation of a plan to increase revenue at the park.
Brian Gentry provided a brief history of the park and it's significance to him as a native of Irwinville.
Ms. Paulk reported that they have received income and expense documents from the county in order to assess the current financial status and explore opportunities to create additional revenue.
2016 expenses as reported by the county were 34,229
2016 income as reported by the county was 10,292
Income source breakdown:
- Museum admission: 2,873
- Resale Products: 3,115
- Shelter Rental: 3,275
- Unallocated income: 1,029
Recognized that there is just one staff member available to manage all operations at the park and that the first efforts to increase revenue should focus on existing assets and activities.
Reported that the county commission voted and approved to put a credit card machine back into the facility. A device is needed to allow for that function. (seeking a donation of a tablet or smartphone capable of running a credit card app)
The rental shelter is an asset that should be generating 10k per year. In 2016 it generated 3,275. A plan will be developed to standardize rental fees and policies. Once that is done, a marketing campaign will be launched to promote the rental facility and secure reservations for the remainder of 2017.
The source of museum visits was discussed. Ms. Paulk did an analysis of referral sources by assessing the visitor sign in sheets. She stated that those results will be available online at www.JeffDavisPark.com but noted that the #1 source of traffic was the I75 road sign at exit 78. It was discussed that efforts to increase referrals from other sources are wide open including building relationships with regional tourism outlets.
Meeting attendee input and discussion:
- Cam Jordan from Fitzgerald provided that if the park closes, Fitzgerald would be willing to house the museum collection. He was thanked for the offer but told that that is not on the table at the moment. He also mentioned the trail project that runs from SC to the site where Jefferson Davis was captured. The marker for the capture has not been placed at the park due to the discussion of closing the park. He also said that Ben Hill will collaborate and assist with marketing of the park/trail marker.
- Mr. King spoke and said that the SCV GA Division will do whatever they can to help keep the park open.
- UDC president spoke and said they would do whatever they could to help keep the park open.
- A gentleman from Tifton suggested that we contact owners of billboards along the interstate to inquire about using noncontracted billboards for park promotion.
- Charlie Parker with SCV spoke about concerns that people are anticonfederate and that we need to explore ways to overcome that mindset in order to increase exposure for the park. A brief discussion was held about the marketing of the park as the place where the war really ended but was tabled with the intention to be discussed at a future meeting.
- Mike Kennedy with SCV spoke about previous efforts to fundraise via reenactment events and the struggle that has been experienced in creating funds with those efforts. He also spoke of the initial interest in the Friends of Jeff Davis Park group. He said that the first couple of meetings were well attended and enthusiastic but by the 3rd meeting there was virtually no one in attendance.
- Other questions/input from meeting attendees including questions about whether there was a pamphlet available in the park that outlines the history of the location and comments regarding a need to address special maintenance needs. Because the park is registered as a historical site there are strict guidelines for maintenance and repairs. There are repairs that are needed at the park now that need to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent them from getting worse.
It was noted that the host of the location was closing and the meeting was called. The family group and consultant will review the results of the meeting, post minutes and documents online for public review and schedule another meeting for the week of Feb. 13th to report continued activities, findings and plans.
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