DUE TO HEAVY SNOWS IN WESTERN KENTUCKY...WIDESPREAD 6 TO 12 INCH SNOWFALL AMOUNTS HAVE HAULTED AREA TRAVEL. ISOLATED 15 INCH AMOUNTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED. DRIFTS UP TO A FOOT AND A HALF HAVE ALSO BEEN REPORTED. THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM SITUATION AND TRAVEL SHOULD BE AVOIDED IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. (National Weather Service)

MILLER POrter retiring 300OWENSBORO, Ky. (4/24/13) – After almost six years at the helm of the Owensboro region’s tourism and marketing development efforts, Karen Miller Porter is ready for new opportunities, more time with her family, and at a point with the tourism industry in Owensboro where she feels she’s “leaving it in the best situation that I can.”

Porter had worked with the Owensboro/Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau in the past, but returned to head the agency in August 2007 after serving for two years as director of the Kentucky State Parks department. Of course, as many people can recall, it was a different world in 2007 than it is today, in terms of tourism and the economy. 2008 saw the near-collapse of the housing market and a resulting economic ripple effect that crippled business and industry for nearly three years. Porter said looking back on everything that happened in Owensboro during that time, she was in the right place at the right time to help Owensboro and Daviess County overcome the challenges the housing bubble created.

“I did my first year budget in 2008, and I asked myself, ‘What would I do if the Executive Inn closed?’” Porter said. “The great fear was that we would lose one third of the room tax.”

In fact, the Executive Inn did close during that time, and Porter said the result was the loss of not only one of the city’s best tourism attractions due to its size and amenities, but also about 500 rooms that were normally rented out to people visiting the city during the summer months.

“We lost convention and meeting business,” Porter said. “It was our destination. The Executive Inn was a reason a lot of people came to Owensboro.”

Porter’s approach was to work with residents in the community willing to create opportunities for people to come to Owensboro. Sports marketing, she said, became one of the main focuses that year.

“We did sports marketing in house in March 2008,” she said. “It enabled us to direct our focus on sports marketing and we went after tournaments that fit our community – tournaments that didn’t cost huge bid fees. It was a smart move. I didn’t know how smart it was at the time. People may give up their vacation, but they’re going to the tournament.”

The other shift in focus involved more community support of festival events.

“It became a community-wide marketing effort,” she said. “We really hung our hat on that.”

Continuing the tradition of community supported festivals is critical to the success of Owensboro and Daviess County’s tourism for the next few years, Porter said. Events like ROMP, the BBQ festival, Street Legends, Friday After 5, and other attractions will help the investments being made in the downtown area produce a positive result for the city and county.

Porter said between the River Park Center, the addition of two new hotels, and the new convention center in the downtown area, the result of the downtown renovation is going to introduce “a whole new world on what Owensboro’s going to be able to do.”

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had top property” on the Riverfront,” she said. “Visitors want an experience when they come, and we’re going to be able to offer that in a way we haven’t been able to do that before.”

The decision to retire was a difficult one, Porter admitted, but the right one.

“The timing is right,” she said. “I’m blessed to have had this opportunity. I have a great staff. We’re very passionate and committed. I’m leaving it in the best situation that I can.”

Porter said she plans to still be involved but wants to spend more time with her family, which includes children and grandchildren who live out-of-state. She quickly added that she is “looking for some new opportunities” as well.

When asked what advice she might have for the next executive director of the tourism bureau, Porter said the key to success for any candidate is to “understand the community.”

“I think that’s really important: to get a feel for the community, and really, truly be a part of the community,” she said.

Porter’s official retirement date is Aug. 1. In a statement, the Bureau’s Board of Directors said it is “grateful for her innumerable contributions to this community.” The board will begin accepting applications upon its completion and review of a job description. A timetable for selecting a replacement hasn’t been announced.

Dennis Beard
SurfKY News
Photo provided by Dennis Beard

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

springhour

In Other News...

Muhlenberg County Educator Inducted into Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (3/4/15) — Mary K. Armstrong, a longtime Muhlenberg County educator, was inducted Tuesday into the… Read More

U.S. 62 Blocked Between Central City, Nelson Creek

CENTRAL CITY, Ky. (3/5/15) ― U.S. 62 East near Central City is closed near the Kentucky 604 intersection. According to… Read More

Most Read This Week

March 02, 2015 9491

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
February 25, 2015 8895

Multi-Agency Investigation Nets Large-Scale Meth…

in Top News For All Sites by Trooper Stu Recke
February 25, 2015 6479

New Asian Restaurant Coming to Madisonville

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
March 03, 2015 5771

Three Arrested during Traffic Stop

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
February 25, 2015 4461

Local Man Makes Unique Display from Area’s…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 05, 2015 4167

State of Emergency Declared for Hopkins County

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Leslie Curneal

Most Read This Month

February 12, 2015

UPDATE: Name of Pennyrile Fatality Officially…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
February 16, 2015

UPDATE: State of Emergency Declared for Kentucky

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Stories Trending Today

March 05, 2015 4167

State of Emergency Declared for Hopkins County

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Leslie Curneal
March 05, 2015 3607

UPDATE: I-24 Open Between 50-45 MM

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Keith Todd
March 03, 2015 2796

Superintendent: Spring Break Won't be Touched…

in Hopkins News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 05, 2015 2042

Deep Snowfall Stalls Western Kentucky

in Top News For All Sites by SurfKY News
March 04, 2015 1988

Highway Crews Dealing with Landsides in…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Keith Todd
March 04, 2015 1748

KSP Warns of Old Scam Resurfacing in the Post 2…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper S. C. Recke
March 04, 2015 1505

Adamson Chosen as Madisonville MSU Campus’…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 04, 2015 1494

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 4, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
March 04, 2015 1445

Muhlenberg County Educator Inducted into Kentucky…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by WKU News
March 05, 2015 1323

Muhlenberg Issues State of Emergency Under…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Paul McRee, SurfKY News