Despite a smaller budget and staff in 2010, Gahanna's Convention & Visitors Bureau continued to market the community with positive returns, according to its leaders.

Despite a smaller budget and staff in 2010, Gahanna's Convention & Visitors Bureau continued to market the community with positive returns, according to its leaders.

Laurie Jadwin, GCVB president, recently told Gahanna City Council that 2010 was a challenging year because of a downturn in lodging income and reduced staffing.

The GCVB, a nonprofit organization, is supported by a portion of the 6-percent lodging tax paid by visitors for hotel stays.

"Despite having a minimal staff, we have an excellent staff," Jadwin said. "We still achieved many objectives and goals that positively impacted the community."

Karen Eylon, GCVB director, said the new website, visitgahanna.com, was launched in January and has experienced a steady increase in traffic to the site.

With lodging-tax funding, she said, advertising is placed in a variety of publications to reach the city's visitor audience.

The GCVB has consulted with a sports marketing firm to conduct a comprehensive sports-facilities audit and feasibility study, according to Eylon.

Those findings, to be released next month, will provide a plan for success and long-term economic impact, as well as data that should be beneficial to the city, schools, recreation leagues and businesses, she said.

Eylon said more than 2,600 welcome packets were distributed this year to sports-tourney attendees, and the GCVB partnered with sports organizers to secure lodging and assist with public-relations efforts.

She said the GCVB works "hand in hand" with PDG Communications to identify opportunities to promote city tourism.

Eylon said a record 27 groups visited Gahanna's Ohio Herb Education Center this year, including nine travel writers as part of a culinary tour. The GCVB produced chef biographies to promote and celebrate the culinary scene in Gahanna, according to Eylon.

"We hope to continue to have a presence in that market," she said.

Jadwin, chair of the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival organizing committee, said the 12th annual event brought 42,500 in paid attendance from June 18 to 20.

According to a formula provided by the Americans for the Arts, the 2010 festival had a total economic impact of about $1.5-million, based on attendance and offerings, Jadwin said.

"We look forward to continue to grow that," she said. "Our biggest challenge is location, but we had very few issues."

The festival had a higher level of participation with Creekside businesses, according to Jadwin.

The GCVB partnered with Mezzo Italian Kitchen to present a Sunday Jazz Brunch, resulting in a record-breaking success with 217 tickets sold.

"They were happy with the business they received from that event," Jadwin said. "We also reached out to J. Gumbo's to host a preliminary competition before the festival. This gave us the opportunity to further involve our businesses."

A blues workshop, presented by the Columbus Blues Alliance, also was held at the Old Bag of Nails Pub.

"We'll continue to strive for new ways to partner with the businesses there," Jadwin said.

Councilman John McAlister said he understands how hotels and restaurants benefit from the Blues & Jazz Festival, but he questioned the results for other businesses.

"We look at the residual economic impact," Eylon said. "Hopefully, when visitors come in, they fill up their cars at gas stations. They may need to purchase diapers and go to Kroger. There's a trickle-down effect, even if it's outside their scope of service."

Councilman David Samuel asked if the Holiday Lights! parade would return in 2011.

Eylon said it was a difficult decision to cancel the 2010 parade.

"Our committee has met, and they fervently want it to continue," she said. "In January, we'll collect more information. Even though we did a lot with a little this year, there was obviously something missing."