German Village is Ohio's No. 11 most-visited site, beating out Ohio State University and the Hocking Hills according to a study referenced in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch on Jan. 26.

German Village is Ohio's No. 11 most-visited site, beating out Ohio State University and the Hocking Hills according to a study referenced in the Sunday Columbus Dispatch on Jan. 26.

As soon as it hit the stoop, I had emails from proud residents and business owners, touting this important ranking. I got excited, too.

I believe being a destination for people from all over the region, state -- heck, the world according to our Visitors Center guest book -- is tremendously positive.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation says: "a good heritage tourism program improves the quality of life for residents as well as serving visitors."

In fact, you've likely noted that I have spent some significant time on bolstering our status in this category during my tenure.

We have had a robust group tour program since a group of proactive German Village Society members understood the opportunity that 1992's AmeriFlora convention presented.

The talking points and docent training started 20 years ago are still the basis of our volunteer-led tours of German Village today. With a renewed focus on outreach to national tour planners, we doubled our group tours from 2011 to 2012.

Attracting people to German Village has at least three main advantages:

* The Society's mission of historic preservation and education needs an audience. It isn't just educating local property owners and residents (though you are the FIRST priority).

The education part means we're tasked with helping as many folks as we can touch understand what started on these bricks in the late 1950s -- and why it is both important in preservation leadership terms, but also as an example of the kind of change citizens working together can affect on their own communities.

* Part of what draws residents to German Village is the mix of shops, restaurants and businesses they can walk to for services.

You can get groceries, buy gifts, see the dentist, get your finances in line, buy your dog food and choose from menus coveted around the world -- all within a mile of your front door.

We want those businesses to thrive, but we can't keep their doors open all by ourselves. They need visitors to stay a vibrant part of our resident lifestyle.

* Maintaining a high profile as a desirable neighborhood and destination gives us political power.

There is no elected or appointed leader that wants German Village to fail, so appearing decade after decade on a list like the one the Dispatch printed is important to getting what we need for our tax dollars to sustain our very special community.

Desirability also doesn't hurt your property values in this neighborhood.

Visitors give all of us a chance to share our stories of pride about German Village.

Dozens of you volunteer to help us spread the word -- dozens more take it on in less formal ways. All of it, taken cumulatively, makes us one of Ohio's top destinations.

Here are some fun statistics:

* We give about 45 group tours to student and bus trips each year.

* We log about 10,000 visitors in the Visitors Center each year.

* Of those, last year we saw folks from about 30 different countries and every state of the union.

* Our events attract (cumulatively) more than 30,000 people.

* We had 27,000 unique visitors to our website last year, and they browsed 160,000 pages. Of them, 73 percent were new to our site.

We have so much pride about living and working in a place so many other people clamor to spend time in.

The assets visitors get for a day or a week, we enjoy every day.

This is what your German Village Society continues to promote and lead and KEEP German Village a very special place.

German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov submitted the Village Notebook column.