Monday, April 16, 2012

New Online Tool Helps Finance Creative Start Ups

A successful sustainable tourism economy is made up of thousands of experiences . Some grand. Others very small. The small experiences may not on the surface ever be considered a valuable addition to a tourism economy. In fact, they are often the most important element.

Arts, food, design and events all add depth to a visitor's experience. They add value and choice for visitors. These seemingly small visitor experiences can pack a huge combined punch and support local artisans, create local jobs, support supply chains and are part of the sustainable local economy. When one looks around the city and region, it does not take long to create a list of unique micro experiences that when combined, create an impressive inventory that can appeal across a wide range of consumer interests. It is the country markets, organic food purveyors, community theatres, local galleries, creators of local music and countless local artisans that add layers of cultural fabric to our city and provide it with a sense of warmth. The more experiences a community offers and the more the tourism industry can cross promote them, the greater the opportunities to increase visitor retention.

Getting these unique, boutique and artistic elements off the ground is no small feat in smaller or rural communities but many have done it through sheer determination and a passion for what they do. Persistence is key to success, as well as developing a loyal following, remaining consistently true to the art and of course the required financial resources. Recently, the Ciy of Thunder Bay undertook a new culture planning strategy and it identified the economic importance of Thunder Bay's cultural industries and highlighted their importance as tourism values.

I recently came across a great site called Kickstarter, that taps into a global community of financial patrons to help launch innovative and creative ventures in the fields of design, arts, theatre, music, technology and more. It begins when an entrepreneur has a great idea and posts their idea online with a financial fund raising goal in mind. From there an online community can scroll through and contribute to their idea with their credit card. A scroll through the site reveals a plethora of small ventures that have garnered significant support.

Its a great concept where thinking locally, acting globally takes on an authentic meaning. In the many conversations I have every week with local budding entrepreneurs and artisans, it becomes evident very quickly how this tool can help them raise the equity among investors who truly get what they're doing. I hope to see local and regional creative projects up on Kickstarter soon and see more layers added to our cultural tourism tapestry.

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