The city of Gahanna and the Gahanna Convention and Visitors Bureau, also known as Visit Gahanna, have announced a new collaboration to strengthen the city's presence in the competitive tourism market.

Effective May 18, Visit Gahanna assumed management responsibilities of the Ohio Herb Education Center, 110 Mill St., to allow the bureau and herb center's staff to coordinate and build upon current programming and marketing efforts.

"Transferring the management of the Ohio Herb (Education) Center to the Gahanna Convention and Visitors Bureau is a natural fit, given their success in marketing Gahanna as the herb capital of Ohio," said Tom Kneeland, Gahanna mayor.

"Over the years, the CVB has been instrumental in attracting visitors to our city to explore Visit Gahanna's Herbal Trail and to tour the herb center. They have also created experiences locally to help promote our herbal history and great restaurants," he said.

Kneeland said the city looks forward to continuing its partnership with the visitors bureau, to promote the herb center and the whole herb experience.

For many years, the Herb Center has been under the supervision of the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department.

Laurie Jadwin, executive director of Visit Gahanna, said all of the Herb Center staff will remain city employees.

"We simply are assuming responsibility for overseeing the internal operations of the center, so that we can better align our marketing initiatives and help the center to grow in its programming and rental opportunities," she said.

The bureau's mission, Jadwin said, is to attract visitors to the community, which in turn generates economic traffic for local businesses.

"Visitors who have an exceptional experience have potential to become new residents, as well as new businesses in town, thus playing a significant role in the economic development of our city," she said.

In 2012, on the 40th anniversary of Gahanna's designation as the herb capital of Ohio, Visit Gahanna (in partnership with the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department) launched the Herbal Trail to capitalize on the attributes of the Gahanna community -- such as the Geroux Herb Gardens and the herb center.

"The center has been the crown jewel in Visit Gahanna's efforts to market and promote the city and the Herbal Trail to visitors," Jadwin said.

Since the introduction of the Herbal Trail, Visit Gahanna has added new experiences that have built upon the city's reputation as Ohio's herb capital.

They include the Herbal Cocktail Trail, which recently unveiled a brand new passport featuring nine herbal cocktails; the Herbal Trail Adventure Pass, a scavenger hunt that highlights Gahanna businesses and provides an opportunity for families to explore and earn prizes; and Herb'n Restaurant Week, which culminates in the city's Herb Day celebration.

"The city's marketing team and the staff at the herb center have done a great job of marketing the center within the gardening and herbal communities, while we have focused our promotional efforts on the visitors' market," Jadwin said.

"We appreciate the vision and support of both the mayor and city council in recognizing that alignment of these efforts will allow the center to strengthen and expand its programming, while affording us more opportunity to market Gahanna to a wider audience, increasing our ability to draw more visitors to town," she said.

Jeff Barr, Gahanna's parks and recreation director, said he's excited about the future possibilities of the herb center under the management of Visit Gahanna.

"The herb center's mission to educate the public about the benefits and various uses of herbs is an alignment with the CVB's goal to attract visitors to our region to celebrate and connect to all things herbal in Gahanna," he said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla