This column was submitted by Mark Calitri, President & CEO of the Owensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
During uncertain times, one thing is definite. We will be better as a result of these crises. Everyone loves a comeback story, and Owensboro will come back better than ever. We’ve been the underdog before, and we thrive in that role.
As the virus continues to evolve, our local small businesses, along with the hospitality and restaurant industry, have taken the hardest hit financially. Everyone in our community is affected by this novel virus.
But one thing I’ve learned since moving to Owensboro a couple of years ago is this city’s strongest asset is our people. I’ve never seen people come together in such a way to benefit the common good more than they have during this pandemic.
Think about it. When you’re on walks with your family, have you ever seen so many people smile and wave? What about the community help fund — made possible by a collaboration of several organizations — that’s now over $600,000 going directly to benefit those who need it most during this difficult time? All of the distilleries making hand sanitizer and individuals sewing cloth masks? Those drive-thru or carry out workers risking their health to feed your family?
I want to be clear. The entire tourism industry is in uncharted territory. Experts say this will affect our business seven times worse than 9/11. We’re hurting. The hardest part is we don’t know when we will be able to open back up.
The important thing is we will reopen. We are rescheduling. We are rebooking. We are aggressively pursuing new events. We’re doing more with less in our marketing efforts. We will be ready to welcome back our visitors.
We are believers in partnerships and the power of collaboration. Together, Owensboro will weather this crisis and build a stronger economic future.