The power of partnership highlighted the third annual meeting of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau on April 18 at the Creekside Conference & Events Center.

The power of partnership highlighted the third annual meeting of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau on April 18 at the Creekside Conference & Events Center.

Laurie Jadwin, bureau president, provided an overview of 2012 events before about 70 city leaders, business owners, volunteers and residents.

"The foundation of the successes for the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2012 was partnerships," Jadwin said. "It is the thread that is woven through all of our efforts because nothing that we do in our organization could happen without collaboration."

One of most successful endeavors in 2012 was the launch of the Herbal Trail, connecting gardens, businesses, culinary and all that is herb-related in Gahanna.

"At the very core of this initiative is a web of partnerships, made strong by many layers: city leadership, organizations, business owners, professionals, passionate individuals and more," Jadwin said.

The city of Gahanna (in particular, the Department of Parks & Recreation), the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Foundation, Experience Columbus, the visitors bureau, Chase Bank, 200 Columbus and PDG Communications are just a few of the organizations that worked together in 2012 to create new opportunities to economically affect Gahanna's businesses and community, Jadwin said.

"By working together, we have a product with tangible product and measurable outcomes," she said. "You can touch, feel and experience it for yourself. See the Herbal Trail logo proudly displayed in windows; taste the creations of our local chefs who excitedly hopped on board the Herbal Trail; or take a minute to soak in the beauty of collaboration most visible in the new Story Trail at Friendship Park."

The partnership energy has sparked a new level of collaboration, as Herbal Trail partners now work to identify opportunities to support one another, Jadwin said.

One example of such a partnership was featured at the tables during the meeting, in the form of herbal honeys that were created by Jorgensen Farms and that are being carried by Koko Tea Salon and Bakery.

"The spirit of collaboration is not only evident in the Herbal Trail development but also in our destination sales-marketing efforts," Jadwin said. "We've partnered with Gahanna Lincoln High School to tag-team efforts in the sports tournament market, identifying opportunities for room nights, welcome materials, venue use and more."

Jadwin said 2013 marks the 15th year of presenting the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival, and it's the 15th anniversary of the Holiday Lights! parade and season.

"Visionary opportunities are made manifest when passionate people work together," she said. "Thanks to the foundation of partnership, the festival will continue to provide an opportunity to create treasured memories as it economically impacts our businesses and our community."

Jadwin also introduced new bureau staff member Mary Szymkowiak, communications and group-tours specialist.

"Mary brings a wealth of destination marketing experience and knowledge to our organization, having amassed an impressive list of accomplishments and awards during her 13-plus-year tenure with the Dublin CVB, and we are excited to welcome her on board," Jadwin said.

The bureau also honored various individuals and organizations that have contributed to the bureau's tourism initiatives.

The awards and the recipients of those awards were given to the following organizations for their efforts in 2012:

* Tourism Partner of the Year, Columbus Blues Alliance and the Columbus Jazz Arts Group.

* Community Supporter of the Year, Benchmark Bank.

* Ambassador of the Year, Gahanna Department of Parks & Recreation.

* Above & Beyond Award,- Patty Donahey Geiger, public-relations consultant to the bureau.

Stephen Renner, president of Gahanna City Council, presented an award to the bureau on behalf of Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks, who was detained on a county matter.

The award recognized the bureau's efforts to create and promote tourism opportunities that have economically affected the Gahanna community.