Texas Rising June 2008

Forest Country, Texas

Local Government
Tools that Made
the Difference

Texas Forest Country

Sue Kennedy, chairwoman of the Texas Forest Country Partnership, gives the following advice for growing tourism:

Join forces with other area entities and businesses that have an economic interest in growing tourism.

Define resources available to attract tourists and brainstorm on how to package those resources.

Find agencies that can help, such as the Governor’s Office, Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Transportation.

Be comfortable with starting small. Whatever is done, do it very well so that it can be the basis of successful growth.

Nonprofit group promotes beauty of East Texas attractions, recreation.

by Karen Hudgins

If the members of the Texas Forest Country Partnership achieve their goal, the “Texas Forest Country” will automatically conjure striking images of wildlife, forests and diverse recreational activities in East Texas.

“We’re hoping when people hear that, they’re going to think about agricultural tourism – hunting, fishing, walking trails, camping areas and national forests,” says Sue Kennedy, chairwoman of the Texas Forest Country Partnership (TFCP). “Those kinds of scenes will be automatically inspired by hearing that brand.”

Called the Pineywoods Economic Partnership until 2007, the TFCP is a nonprofit economic development organization devoted to promoting tourism and other initiatives including work force in its 13-county region.

“We’re trying to give a much broader picture of what’s available in East Texas,” Kennedy says. “We have so much diversity on this side of the state, whether it’s bird watching, hiking or Texas wildflowers.”

Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

In 2006 the group solicited $100,000 from interested organizations and secured a three-year commitment for the funds to kick off a multi-year marketing campaign. TFCP contracted with marketing firm Ainsworth/Alvis LLC in Lufkin. The $100,000 paid for the initial project to launch the Texas Forest Country brand and logo and to expand marketing efforts, including trade shows, Web sites and brochures.

A 30-member board, including at least one member from each of TFCP’s 13 counties, meets quarterly and votes on all decisions. Members can include individuals, companies and government entities.

TFCP can help promote member communities that may not have many marketing dollars. Its Web site, www.texasforestcountry.com, links to member Web sites and tourism-related events. TR

For more information on tourism offerings in East Texas, visit www.texasforestcountry.com.

For resources on promoting your community’s tourism offerings, visit the Comptroller’s Local Government Assistance and Economic Development Division Web site at www.TexasAhead.org.