Serving as a reminder of Hinesville’s connections to national history and a way to boost local tourism, the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority’s two-day tourism assessment visit featured Amy Webb, a representative from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Karen Keown, an economic development director in Kentucky.
Local officials received six recommendations to attract visitors to Hinesville and encourage more interest throughout the region during the Sept. 25 presentation, which also gave HDDA the chance to display samples of new signs meant to cultivate a more distinctive downtown feel. The signs are expected to be in place by the end of October.
Webb thought the community should enjoy "absolutely, smashing success," from the new sign designs, helping to establish a familiar brand.
"You all are literally a hidden gem," Webb said. "Fortunately, we have some signs here that'll make you less hidden."
Webb’s evaluation highlighted the Dorchester Academy, Declaration of Independence signers and several nature preservation sites. She said Liberty County has more than enough to draw travelers seeking to learn about cultural heritage.
"One of the things we saw on a county level is you have the blend," Webb said. "You all are in an incredibly lucky position to have history being made here."
Keown thought Hines-ville’s ranking of 103 on the Forbes list of Best Small Places for Business and Careers is indicative of the city’s success.
"It recognizes how far you've come in a very short period of time," Keown said. "It's very obvious, as a community, you all are very committed."
However, the experts suggested leaders start work-
ing to create a community
identity that locals and newcomers can relate to.
"If you live here, you do (know), but if you're a visitor, you don't," Webb said. "If you don't live near an Army installation, this is new territory."
Keown discussed ways to ease the transition from visitor to resident for Army families while creating a culture of appreciation for the military.
"Being a transient community, it is important for people to be in, to fit in," Keown said.
HDDA Director Vicki Davis said the tourism visit “validates what we're doing and how things work together.”
Davis and Cindye Jones, Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau director, agreed there is still a need for volunteers and to get more of the community involved.
"This is a time more than ever that we need more volunteer effort," Davis said.