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2013 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Brenda Myers

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bmyers-1-15col.jpg Brenda Myers (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

The executive director of a convention and visitors bureau is primarily responsible for selling a region to non-residents, right? Well, Brenda Myers goes far beyond that.

“When I interviewed for this position,” said Myers, executive director of the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau, “the board was looking at how the organization would go into the next decade—how it would remain relevant. The board saw that the growth was naturally going to occur—that the county was obviously growing rapidly. But what were we going to do to be part of that growth?”

Myers had experience on both city tourism and cultural heritage via previous gigs that included vice president of marketing and public relations for the Indiana Historical Society, executive director of Tour Indiana, and public affairs director for Conner Prairie Interactive History Park.

Early in her tenure at the Hamilton County CVB, she met with representatives of stakeholders throughout the county. Based on that input, she decided her tenure wouldn’t be about just how to market but also about how to help these organizations be what they wanted to be.

She pushed raising the bed tax in Hamilton County from 3 percent to 5 percent to invest in local product development and community.

“The hotels were OK with it, the county council agreed, the board agreed,” she said.

Thanks to that increase, combined with the near doubling of room capacity, she found her budget rise from just under $1 million to more than $3 million today.

Her bureau became actively involved in not just promoting, but also in transforming locations into destinations. (Myers calls it “running alongside them rather than just watching them.”) It meant looking not just at big, existing attractions such as the Palladium but also at economic drivers and local amenities such as soccer fields and baseball diamonds. It meant looking at street-scaping in Cicero, a community arts initiative for Arcadia, refurbishing a log cabin in Sheridan, and enhancing historical interpretation for underground-railroad sites in Westfield.

Under Myers, the Hamilton County CVB served as lead grantor for Conner Prairie’s balloon exhibition; for the eight-field, baseball-tournament-luring Billericay Park in Fishers; and for Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield—which she calls the single most impactful project in the last quarter century of Hamilton County tourism.

And then there’s the Nickel Plate Arts Center.

“Never did I think we would own an arts organization,” she said. “But what that has done for that part of Noblesville is pretty extraordinary. And what it has done for the community is even better. It will be self-sustaining in five years.”

“It takes a lot of patience,” she said. “You have to germinate ideas, do feasibility studies, react when resources are available, work with organizations that are often all volunteer-run—but have enthusiasm and vision—and help them figure out how to make it all come together. That’s how you get a Grand Park.

“We’re just one part of it. The cities are doing the heavy lifting. And it’s not easy to move all those parts forward. But it’s a great thing when it all works.”•

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  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

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