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Betsy Alles column: Look at Sheboygan through a tourist's set of eyes

6:56 PM, Aug. 3, 2013  |  Comments
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Each year more and more tourists are coming to the greater Sheboygan area and that's great news. It results in more dollars in our area economy, more jobs and ultimately a better quality of life for all of us that live here.

According to the research, there is a gap we need to fill to take our tourism economy to the next level: more shopping opportunities. One of the big draws for top tourism counties in Wisconsin and other places is a collection of eclectic, fun places to shop. While we have more now than in the past we still lag behind other areas. With our recent tourism growth we offer an excellent address for start-up retail or those wishing to establish an additional location.

Recently, the City of Sheboygan, the Harbor Centre District and the Chamber hosted 21 real estate agents from the area as "tourists in their own backyard" for two days. The group traveled to Bookworm Gardens, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Above & Beyond Children's Museum, Blue Harbor Resort, the Yacht Club, The Black Pig and a variety of other restaurants and attractions.

They visited downtown and South Pier retailers to hear their stories and toured some of the available properties that could be suited to new retailers. When we asked which of them had not yet experienced some of these wonderful attractions it was surprising how many hands went up.

Nearly all of these "tourists" were very pleased with everything they experienced on the tour and pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of assets we have. We are counting on them to share that story with prospective tenants or developers as well as prospective tourists. I am telling you this for two reasons:

First, be sure to take the time to enjoy where we live. Whether it's a walk on the riverfront, a trip to the Wade House, an event at the Weill Center or any one of the long list of free or reasonably priced options we have here, it will re-energize you. You can reach almost any point in our county in 20 minutes! And be sure to tell your friends and relatives about your adventures too. Two, if there is a shop you enjoy when visiting another part of the state, encourage them to consider Sheboygan for a second location. You will be doing them a favor. In fact, let us know their name and we will give them a special invitation to visit. Making our county a place people want to visit makes it more enticing for new employees and more fun and enriching for everyone living here. It all starts with a fresh perspective on the place you've lived for a while.

Betsy Alles is the executive director of the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce which was established in 1814 and currently serves 870 member companies. The chamber and its membership look forward to celebrating 100 years in 2014.

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