Visit Gahanna, also known as the Gahanna Convention and Visitors Bureau, officially takes over the operation of Ohio Herb Education Center, 110 Mill St., on Thursday, March 7, and officials hope to cultivate more interest in the site.

"By combining the marketing and event expertise of Visit Gahanna with the educational experience of the herb center staff, we will be able to reach a wider range of audience throughout the central Ohio area with new programs on trending topics," said Laurie Jadwin, executive director of the visitors bureau. "We will be much better positioned to generate a greater awareness for the herb center and to drive even more visitors to the heart of our downtown, the Creekside District."

Gahanna City Council approved a 24-month contract between the city and the bureau last month.

The contract states the bureau agrees that 16.67 percent of the collected lodging tax will be distributed to the bureau for the marketing and operations of the herb center and will be spent solely for that purpose.

All revenue from operations of the center while under the bureau's management will be the property of the bureau, and the bureau agrees to be solely responsible for any deficit relative to the center's operation.

Jadwin said revenue would be reinvested to support the center's operations, with the goal being to transform the operations so it becomes financially self-sustaining.

"During the transition period of the past nine months, the staffs of both Visit Gahanna and the Ohio Herb Education Center have been working together to define a new vision and mission for the center," she said. "The team members at the herb center are extremely knowledgeable on herbal topics, and they have already demonstrated unique and creative ideas as to how we can collectively expand the programming and resources offered at the center."

Brian Tim, board treasurer for the bureau, said the change allows Visit Gahanna more opportunity to market the community as a destination.

"The herb center was doing that on its own," he said. "Now the CVB will work with herb-center staff to market (the city) as the herb capital of Ohio. Both organizations have had the same interests in promoting and bringing business to our community."

Now that marketing will be done jointly, Tim said.

The two herb-center employees will become members of Visit Gahanna, and the Visit Gahanna team will oversee the herb center's marketing, events, programming and gift shop, according to Jadwin.

A new branding effort will include a new logo, changing the name from the Ohio Herb Education Center to the Ohio Herb Center. It reflects the expanded approach to connect residents and visitors with all things herbal, Jadwin said.

As part of its vision for the Ohio Herb Center, she said, residents and visitors will see new and expanded programming; promotion of the Ohio Herb Center as a venue for small gatherings and meetings; a revamped gift shop that focuses on Gahanna and Ohio-made products; and continued efforts to build upon and grow the events that have been established under the city's operations of the center.

Jadwin said the visitors bureau already has been successful in drawing visitors to the area through such programs as Herbal Cocktail Trail, Herb'n Restaurant Week and Pies in the Park.

Several new classes and programs that highlight Gahanna's status as the state's herb capital are being planned, including an Olde Fashioned Summer Series to be held June 27, July 11 and 25 and Aug. 8 on the front porch of the center's building.

Jadwin said the series would be reminiscent of days gone by, when families and neighbors gathered on porches to talk and enjoy time together.

She said the biweekly event would feature old-fashion herbal lemonades and iced teas, lawn games, movies and more.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla