The Hotel Pattee in Perry will be the venue for the 2015 Bike Trail Tourism Conference, organizers announced today. The theme of the second-annual event, scheduled for Thursday, April 2, is “Creating New Opportunities on Our Recreational Trails.”
This year’s conference will focus on helping current businesses and prospective new businesses on or near the trails to reach more trail users and capture the growing economic potential of our trails, according to Jim Miller of Waukee, board member of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association (RRVTA) and one of the conference organizers.
“We’re really fortunate to have the RRVT and the High Trestle trail go through our communities here in central Iowa,” said Miller. “Those trails are an invaluable linkage between our communities and the larger metro area, which is a real opportunity for our trail towns to attract more trail users out from the metro area. Our primary audience is local leaders of towns on the trail, trying to give them ideas and strategies to get more economic benefit from our recreation trails.”
The conference begins at 9 a.m. with an opening presentation from Michael Gould, manager of business development for the Iowa Economic Development Authority and an avid biker, who will share insights into trail development and strategies from successful trails across America.
Gould will discuss untapped opportunities for local businesses and for those thinking of starting a new business to serve trail users.
Four panels of local and area speakers with expertise in these topics will make presentations on the following topics:
- How to make businesses on the trail more bike friendly, including way-finding and better signage so trail users can find your business: Panelists: Mary Laborde, Farm Credit Services of America; Lee Coons, owner of Raccoon River Valley Bicycle Co. in Perry; Bob Wilson, executive director of the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce. Moderator: Butch Niebuhr, Perry City Administrator.
- Business success on the trail: Panelists: Jay Hartz, owner of the Hotel Pattee in Perry; Andy Walsh, owner of Mickey’s Irish Pub in Waukee ; John Brunow, owner of All Ability Cycles in Jefferson. Moderator: Chris Henning, executive director of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce in Jefferson.
- Small business assistance for trail businesses and those wanting to start a trail-oriented business: Panelists: Christina Moffatt, regional director of the Iowa State University College of Business Mid-Iowa Small Business Development Center in Des Moines. Moderator; Jim Miller, senior vise president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in West Des Moines.
- Using new technologies to market your business on the trail: Panelists: Scott Sumpter, owner of Bike Iowa in Des Moines. Moderator: Curt Thornberry, director of technology development at Panora Telco in Panora.
“We’re excited to host the 2015 bike trail tourism conference”, said Jay Hartz, owner and general manager of the Hotel Pattee in Perry. “One of our strategies to grow our business is to focus on bike trail users and do all we can do to give them a great experience when they eat a meal here or stay overnight with us. We have seen a steady increase in trail users coming to the hotel.”
The conference is sponsored by Common Thread, a regional consortium of towns on the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail, the City of Perry, and the Center for Towncraft in Perry, a collaboration between Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the City of Perry.
The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration is $20 per person, which includes lunch and all conference materials.
The deadline for pre-registration is March 30. To register send your name and address, along with a check to City of Perry, Attn: Bike Conference, P.O. Box 545, Perry, IA 50220. Please make checks payable to the City of Perry
For more information, contact Butch Niebuhr, Perry City Administrator, 515-465-2481; Sven Peterson, Perry Assistant City Administrator, 515-465-2481; or Alan Vandehaar, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Community Development Specialist, 515-231-6513.