Thursday, August 18, 2011

A “Best Practice” Scenic Cities Certification

I’m working with a group that, by adapting a great Texas program now in its third year,, hopes to pattern a program to certify North Carolina towns and cities as scenic.

Only 20 of the 1200 cities and towns in Texas have achieved the designation which is based on 73 stringent criteria that demonstrate that a community is serious in its commitment to quality-of-life development including an effective bundle of programs, ordinances, rules, and regulations.

Under the Texas certification, cities and towns there can build additional points toward certification with the goal of earning Recognized, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification.

The program is particularly useful to community/destination marketing organizations (DMOs), commonly called convention and visitor bureaus, to which I devoted my now-concluded four-decade career.  Those DMOs that are aware of the importance of sense-of-place should certainly already understand the things that desecrate it.

DMOs are also in the best position to leverage the certification to signal a community’s worthiness for consideration by potential visitors, event planners, filmmakers, newcomers and relocating executives.

The one improvement I hope we make with the North Carolina program is to be sure to include the Destination Marketing Association of North Carolina as a partner along with the NC League of Municipalities and the NC Association of County Commissioners, and many other organizations including the soon-to-be reignited Scenic North Carolina.

Here are a few of the benefits to a city or town that has been certified under the Texas program:

  • improves property values
  • attracts new business
  • enhances economic development efforts
  • educates your citizens about the importance and impact of local decision-making
  • improves quality of life for residents
  • makes your city more appealing to tourists
  • shapes your city as a destination center for travelers and meeting planners
  • positions your city to serve as a model for emerging scenic cities, and
  • creates synergies with other certified Scenic Cities.

Certification itself earns:

  • technical advice and support during the application process
  • exclusive access to Scenic City logos for use on city website, print materials
  • media release regarding certification issued to local and regional newspapers, radio, TV
  • Scenic City emblem to post within city limits
  • recognition at a special luncheon event to be held in the Fall following certification, and
  • synergies with other certified Scenic Cities.

If communities want to pre-qualify for the North Carolina program, I suggest reviewing the Texas application upon which we will expand and improve.

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