What ails Brown County?

March 25, 2008
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What Hoosier hasnâ??t been to Brown County for the fall colors, to shop in Nashville or tromp on the trails at Brown County State Park?

Yet, as IBJ correspondent Jonathan Hiskes reported in this weekendâ??s edition, prosperity is coming harder and harder for merchants. One indicator, hotel sales, has stalled at $10 million to $12 million a year.

Whatâ??s wrong? Shopkeepers, tourism officials and others disagree about how to keep the tourists coming and attract new ones. And they worry about competition from French Lick, which has a new casino and restored hotels.

How likely are you to visit Brown County? What needs to happen to make the cash registers ring with authority again?
  • One thought: Brown County should not consider the competition at French Lick as a threat, but rather as an opportunity. Why not develop a south central Indiana regional approach to attracting tourists? This could include such areas as Brown Co., Bloomington, French Lick attractions and the Columbus architectural attractions....plus others, I'm sure. This package of attractions might draw tourists from a bigger potential area than would be attracted to Brown Co. alone.

    Just a thought.
  • I think one of the problems is that the entire landscape of shops, restaraunts and other entertainment options in that town has not changed in 10 years. I used to go there with my mom all the time and then on dates when I went to IU. Never changes. I think people have grown old and tired of it. Not very many new shopping areas. They need to incorporate more festivals or attractions or liven it up there with some nightlife. It shuts down at 6 and I don't think is even open on Mondays anymore. Just my thoughts.
  • I also feel the area lacks some uniqueness........they should probably focus more on the hand crafted, artistic nature of the area.......instead of selling buck loads of chinese made
  • Some of the responders above have hit upon the solution. It's all about uniqueness. What attracted people to Brown County in its glory days was that there was no other place in Indiana quite like it. That seems to have been lost in recent years. Local leaders need to recapture the uniqueness of the place's culture, art, and entertainment and ensure that it is evident in key shops, attractions and events. Remember something else, too: almost everyone you talk to today remarks about how busy, how hectic their lives are. Align that belief with a key aspect of Brown County's uniqueness, namely, the sense that somehow life was slower and more relaxed there. Brown County can succeed again.

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