Tourism an essential boost to Greene County economy

JoAnne Marshall sits typing determinedly at her desk, in a private office separate from the lobby of the Greene County Tourist Promotion Agency office, in Waynesburg. Strewn across her desk are informational packets, paperwork and folders, as she places the final touches on an email updating recipients of upcoming Greene County events.

Marshall, communications director of tourism for Greene County, squeezes productivity into each part of her day: in pauses of conversation she types emails and answers calls. According to Marshall, the “chaos” of her days is the only commonality between them.

“A day could be focusing on what’s coming this weekend, with emails letting our partners internally know what is coming up, or we could be focusing on next year on advertising campaigns and trying to identify where our target audience is,” Marshall said. “We’re always thinking ahead.”

“Thinking ahead” to what the future holds for tourism in Greene County.

“Essentially, every day revolves around our partners and the events and attractions in the area and what is going on at the time,” Marshall said. “Helping to promote Greene County outside of Greene County, to bring in tourists to stimulate our economy.”

Marshall took a secretarial position in the office in fall 2015, and she said that she applied for the position because “the description matched a lot of my capabilities.”

“Life always throws you chances,” Marshall said.

The secretarial job, which she remained in until she became director in April 2016, allowed her to create content for the office as well as work one-on-one with the previous director.

“It fed a lot of my creative desires,” said Marshall, who was a photography and digital imaging major at Virginia Intermont College.

During her six months as secretary, she began to see the magnitude of tourism within the county.

“I made a lot of connections within the community…and essentially seeing all of their passion for their certain attraction, event or business, really fed into me that there is so much more in Greene County that we can be,” Marshall said.

Greene County events attract more than local citizens, Marshall said.

“The more I started researching and finding our background statistics through our grant program, we’re discovering that there is so much more of an outside tourist presence attending these events than we were ever aware of,” Marshall said.

For example, at the 50s Fest and Car Cruise sponsored by Waynesburg Prosperous and Beautiful Sept. 9, out of the 124 registered cars only 56 percent came from within Greene County.

Blair Zimmerman, commissioner and board chairman for the Greene County board of commissioners, explains the direct repercussions of tourism on the economy of Greene County.

“For a county our size, every business and industry has an impact,” Zimmerman said.

Greene County has lodging, restaurants and businesses offered to tourists, some of whom might take the exit off the interstate, and others who choose this county as their specific destination.

“Tourism in Greene County has often been overlooked from the standpoint that people aren’t realizing how much we are in fact impacted by tourists,” Marshall said. “It is key.”