Destination Hilliard's new executive director said he looks forward to learning all about the city that "was on the other side" from him as he grew up.
Tim Kauffman, 61, a Gahanna resident who graduated from Ohio State University and Eastmoor High School, began his new job Aug. 13.
"The potential here jazzes me," Kauffman said.
He is the organization's second executive director, succeeding Christy Clark, who was hired in June 2010.
Destination Hilliard was created shortly before that by Hilliard City Council to replace the Hilliard Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was disbanded in May 2010 after criticism from city leaders that the organization was not adequately promoting Hilliard and its tourism activities.
The visitors bureau's funding was derived from Hilliard's 6-percent bed tax; City Council redirected that revenue stream to Destination Hilliard.
State law requires that a portion of a city's bed tax be allocated for tourism activities, according to City Council President Albert Iosue.
Destination Hilliard receives half of the city's annual bed-tax revenue, Clark said last month, the equivalent of about $185,000 this year, to advertise and promote tourism in Hilliard.
Kauffman said he already is thinking of how to promote Hilliard.
He said a "signature event" for Hilliard on the scale of the Dublin Irish Festival or the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival is not out of the realm of possibilities.
"It won't happen tomorrow but it will happen in my lifetime, which is to say, my tenure," Kauffman said.
Hilliard also should capitalize on such amenities as Bo Jackson's Elite Sports on Cosgray Road and the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Old Hilliard, he said.
"I was blown away to see what you can do at Bo Jackson's," Kauffman said.
He said he wasn't looking to become the next executive director of Destination Hilliard but "it feels right."
Clark recruited him for the job, he said, lauding him to the Destination board of directors after she stepped down July 15 to accept a job as director of digital communications at Westerville-based Crown Services, a temporary-placement employment agency.
"(The board of directors') excitement really put me over the top. I have a true appreciation for what they saw in me," Kauffman said.
Linda Ulrey, president of the board of directors for Destination Hilliard, said the board has "very high expectations for our future."
"(Kauffman) is a strategic-marketing and communications pro with a keen appreciation for all Hilliard has to offer visitors and residents alike," Ulrey said.
Most recently, Kauffman was regional marketing and communications director for the March of Dimes in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
Kauffman's base salary will be $74,000, according to Ulrey. He won't have insurance benefits, she said.