Encompassing a four-county area of forest and lakes about 60 miles west of Chicago, the Blackhawk Waterways CVB’s primary objective is to draw city-dwellers to their rural region for long weekends and family vacations. However, competition is stiff in the Chicago metro area, especially in the digital world. With high-income vacationers using the web to research travel in record numbers, the Blackhawk Waterways CVB knew they needed help.
As long as anyone can remember, the Homestake Slime Plant has stood watch over Deadwood. Countless workers made a living there. Generations of children walked past it on their way to school. In recent decades, however, it has mostly been a sad relic of a bygone era. Now, Deadwood Mountain Grand is one of the country's largest historic preservation projects. With a 2,500 seat event center and hotel to open in Fall 2011 the challenge was to maintain the history surrounding the Deadwood Mountain Grand while developing a brand identity as the newest, hippest venue in Deadwood.
With two million acres of mountains, forests and some of the most iconic national parks in America, the Black Hills of western South Dakota are a truly remarkable leisure destination. But tourism officials realized they had some pretty remarkable challenges, too. For starters, brand awareness and perception were incredibly low. Many potential vacationers had never heard of the Black Hills, and if they had, they were making incorrect and negative assumptions about the place. And no wonder. The dozen major cities and towns in the region were all trying to market their own corner of the Black Hills – in some cases, even outright competing against one another.
With a metropolitan population of about 80,000, Rapid City is the second largest city in South Dakota. Centrally located in the Black Hills, just off Interstate 90 and only half an hour from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, one of the most quintessential American landmarks, Rapid City is a natural visitor destination. But in the first years of the 21st century, all was not well. The national and regional tourism market had grown more competitive, and Rapid City wasn't keeping up – even with its immediate neighbors. Despite its central locations, visitors were spending less time in Rapid City and more time in smaller towns like Deadwood and Spearfish.
The Adams Museum and House has been a Deadwood fixture since 1930. An umbrella organization that oversees The Adams Museum, Adams House and the Homestake-Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), the mission of the non-profit is to identify, preserve, collect and promote the history and culture of Deadwood and the Black Hills. The Adams Museum and House is funded by tax proceeds from Deadwood's gaming revenue which have led to the restoration of the Adams House in 1998, the renovation of The Adams Museum in 2005 and the opening of the HARCC in 2011.
Youthwise is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Black Hills teenagers make good choices. Their mission is to arm them with the information and motivation they need to develop strong care, self-esteem and healthy lifestyles. Their programs aim to improve school attendance, social skills and graduation rates. This is especially difficult in South Dakota were non-treated alcoholism among teenagers ranks in the top 5 in the US. South Dakota also has one of the highest percentages of underage smokers in the United States, ranking 44th out of 50 states.
The Rapid City Historic Preservation Commission's job is to ensure that construction work in the city's historic districts meets federal standards for historic properties. This noble goal can occasionally be unpopular. "No, you can't tear down that 110-year-old brick schoolhouse to put up an office building." "No, you can't install those vinyl windows, even if they are energy efficient." The commissioners are motivated by love of history and historic architecture, but how do you show that to the public?