New director excited about Louisiana’s potential
Chris Koetters has his new offices inside the Louisiana Area Historical Museum on Georgia Street.
After taking over the day-to-day operations of the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce and the Louisiana Visitors and Convention Bureau (LVCB) one month ago, new director Chris Koetters is keeping plenty busy with one thing in mind.
“Potential is an understatement,” for Louisiana, Koetters said. “That’s the part that’s exciting for me.”
Koetters has several ideas to bring people into town for visits, business or to live here.
The first is tour buses. A women’s day out tour will come to Louisiana from Jefferson City in May. It’s the first of what Koetters hopes is many.
“We’re going to get very involved on a state level with organizations,” to attract tour buses,” Koetters said from his new desk inside the Louisiana Area Historical Museum on Georgia Street. “The Missouri Travel Council has a travel exchange,” that links tour bus groups to destinations.
The Louisiana chamber and visitors bureau will submit information to that group “and they talk to you about what you can offer,” Koetters said.
That was just the beginning of the plans Koetters recently submitted to the chamber board.
’52 Weeks of Fun’
“The long-term plan” includes a new promotion called “52 Weeks of Fun,” for 2014.
“Something happens in Louisiana every single week that brings people into town,” Koetters said. “We will go to different organizations soon and get their dates for 2014 events.”
Those events will go on the list for promotion “and we’ll fill in with chamber and LVCB events,” Koetters said.
An example would be the Underground Railroad presentation from W.T. Johnson, of Palmyra for the museum annual banquet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14: at the Seton Center, 510 North Third St.
“The overall goal is to make a hard push next year,” Koetters said. “A full year of activities will help the economy.”
Koetters plans to track the activities as the year progresses and use them in the future to market Louisiana for tourists and businesses.
“I think we’ve got to go big to get things rolling,” Koetters said.
“We’re also looking for another event (like Colorfest) to bring vendors in with booths during May.”
The chamber may do such an event on the same weekend as Louisiana High School’s graduation to capture the crowd, he added.
“It might be something like a spring fling with garden centers setting up booths downtown,” Koetters said. “The idea is to have it in the Main Street and Front Street area and not on Georgia Street.
Other ideas include bringing back the Polar Plunge, the annual cold dip in the Mississippi River for the brave.
Koetters and the chamber have already taken over the Winter Wonderland event to be held at dark on Friday, Nov. 29, the evening after Thanksgiving.
This year’s event will feature a lighted parade.
“We got a $600 donation for cash prizes for the floats,” Koetters said. “The grand prize will be $300,” with smaller cash amounts for other notable floats.
“In conjunction, we’re doing a Christmas Open House,” on Nov. 29 and again on Saturday, Nov. 30 for Louisiana businesses and shops. Shoppers can come downtown, get Christmas presents and enter into a drawing for more than $500 in gift certificates to city businesses.
Koetters grew up on a farm near Quincy, Ill. and went to college for agriculture.
He ended up in television and radio in Quincy and then landed a hotel sales marketing job in Hannibal.
That’s where he got the experience he needed for his new Louisiana position after working at Pike County radio station KJFM the past few years.
“We had 70 percent of the hotels occupied by tourists in Hannibal,” Koetters said. “We were based on catering to the tourists because you have to make them happy. Hopefully we can do that here. To make things successful, we’ll have to put a lot into it.”
Koetters is being paid to work 30 hours per week but often puts in more time than that.
“The job is larger than 30 hours and I want to see things happen,” Koetters said. “Every hour after 30 is a donation of my time to the chamber. There’s a lot going on and I want everything covered.”
To learn more about the chamber, its events and volunteering, call Koetters at 573-754-5921