Brown County loses Andy Rogers. Andy Rogers passed away July 19, 2018. His vision for accommodating tourism and not destroying the culture and “soul” of the county is being seriously challenged by the few that may want to exploit more tourism focused development.
“People say, ‘Well, we can’t change.’ But we can change and still retain some of the flavor of Brown County. We need people to live here. I’m in the tourist business but we don’t want to turn this town over to the tourists. You can go to Gatlinburg if you want to see what happens to a town that turns it all over to business. It’s not a town anymore—it’s a shopping center. We need people here. This town needs to be alive.”
“We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.”
- “He stands at the center of Nashville’s dogged attempt to satisfy a tourist industry while retaining its soul—the thing that people have lost in their own communities, the reason they come to visit in the first place.
- So you can imagine my surprise when I discover that Rogers was not born in Brown County.”
A Competing Vision for Tourism
Will this new vision retain and attract residents or will it result in Brown County being considered a fun place to visit but not to live?
- July 23, 2018, Adult Disneyland’ Opens in Brown County. A new attraction is now open in Brown County, … ‘Adult Disneyland’ Opens in Brown CountyPosted … Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
- July 18, 2018. Brown County Aims to ‘Buck’ Rural Flight. The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center isn’t the only big ticket project making progress in Nashville. Town Manager Scott Rudd says some $40 million in projects designed to the boost the quality of life for locals and visitors alike are in the works in the tourism-focused community.
My Guest Column in the Democrat: A study of tourism and economic sustainability Provides context regarding tourism-related jobs and wages. Note: The proponents of the government-owned Maple Leaf music venue project claimed that Maple Leaf “…. could be what it takes to turn things around economically for Brown County.” This article was written to offer another perspective. The county is funded primarily by income and property tax.
The Maple Leaf Effect? – “The little town that never sleeps?”
Best case is that MLPAC exceeds all expectations. A worse case is that the venue does not meet expectations, requiring a decision as to the disposition of an underperforming venue.
1. Status quo plus. The additional increase in year-round tourism from Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills (destination distillery) and the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) are added to the tourism portfolio with some noticeable impacts on the culture of the county. This will include more events to promote entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism and additional traffic congestion. An increase in revenue from income and property taxes, the primary source of revenue for the county, might offset the increase in county infrastructure-related costs.
2. Transformative. The expectations for the MLPAC were identified as leading to an increase in year-round tourism that would result in an economic turnaround, more jobs, hotel(s) and restaurants. These changes could possibly include the transition of Snyder Farm as an extension of Salt Creek Plaza. The requirement to fill a 2,000-seat venue will likely lead to offering any entertainment option and attracting any demographic that will sell tickets and attract visitors. Shops in Nashville could transition to bars or other dining and entertainment options that will encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more money. Other areas along the State Road 46 corridor could transition to tourist-related businesses. A casino might fit into this scenario. Entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism become a major part of the Brown County “brand.” The cumulative effect of the changes may lead to Brown County being considered a nice place to visit but not to live.
3. Collaborative planning. Community conversations can help identify the best acceptable alternatives for tourism, community and economic development options. To quote Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Conversations can lead to strategies, strategies to plans, and good plans lead to results where everyone benefits — or at least accepts that a given initiative is beneficial overall. The collaborative approach can lead to the county being recognized as a “community of excellence,” which attracts more residents, businesses and families. An increase in families helps mitigate the decline in school enrollments and prevents school closures and consolidations.