The Cincinnati Experience and How It Benefits Business with Julie Calvert

When it comes to making your city a go-to destination, it’s all about the stories you tell.

How can you breathe new life into a city? Stories. Discover the impact that messaging and stories can have to elevate your community and move it giant steps forward. The guest for today’s episode is Julie Calvert, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s doing amazing things to elevate Greater Cincinnati as a destination for tourists, families, and businesses. And HER story might just inspire you to do the same for your city.

  • Julie discusses how Cincinnati wasn’t necessarily talked about negatively … it just wasn’t talked about at all. People weren’t considering it for all sorts of reasons, whether to move to, or visit, or relocate a business. She knew that once people were inside, the place would sell itself for sure. But how do we get people interested in the first place? How do we talk about the offerings it has as a community?
  • Think about creating a sense of place: when you hear Cincinnati, you might think “baseball” or “chili,” but that doesn’t give you a sense of the neighborhoods, the quality of life that exists, the opportunities present. So spend a good time focusing on the value and benefits of the region: how your life is better here. Then you need to get that story ‘adopted.’
  • For example, when it comes to relocation, it’s not just about getting the right offer, it’s about creating the right experience for that family, so they can find their sense of place and belonging in the new city. What experiences can people have here? What can they fall in love with?
  • Julie shares the differences in perspectives and opinions between people who have lived in the city all their lives and the new ‘transplants.’ What are the things people take for granted after living somewhere for a long time? And how do we get people to appreciate that and become ambassadors for their region?
  • How can you make your city get on one of the Top Cities lists? Julie says it’s not something you can just pitch. It’s about waking up every day, thinking about the stories you want to share with publications and podcasts, and having your stories build up to this cumulative effect — that will eventually lead to an influx of visitors and a swell of civic pride. You can’t buy that. And all these stories that people start to tell become credible third-party endorsements of what’s happening in the region. You just have to be dedicated to telling your region’s story.
  • It’s no accident to make it onto those lists; it’s something that needs to be earned. From economic development initiatives, talent attraction initiatives, business expansions, neighborhood development: you need the goods to back your story up, absolutely.
  • What things can we do to be a part of the community and help maintain the vibrancy? Julie shares several different ways – for example, bringing friends and family over. People need to see and visit the place first long before they ever decide to move or open a business there. Seeing is believing!
  • Don’t say you have something for everybody. It’s a dead giveaway that you don’t know how to ‘sell’ your city! Julie discusses what you can do and say instead to get to the heart of what makes your city great.
  • Collaboration is key. If you think about the people and the executives who are moving this region forward collaboratively, that’s not their day job. They’re running Fortune 500 companies and national law firms. So it’s our responsibility to connect these folks and help them lead through the change, get the community together, and invest.
  • Mike recounts a story from his childhood, and Julie shares how investment changed that neighborhood from being the most dangerous neighborhood in America to a celebration of heritage. How can you value your neighborhoods and give them more life?
  • Julie dives into what happens when leaders really care, and the impact of the travel and tourism industry. How does it feed into economic development? Why should we be attracting tourists, and what is that able to do to create a vibrant region? Plus, she shares a story of what happens when a community rises together.

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Julie Calvert:


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