At this year’s Chamber Installation and Awards Dinner, Chamber CEO Dane Carlson made the bold claim that Mariposa County needs attraction businesses and that the Chamber is dedicated to making it happen.
Listen here, or read the transcript below.
One year ago tonight, in fact exactly, I stood up here, for the first time, as the CEO of the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce and I told you, in my speech, that what we needed were openness and clarity. I said that in Mariposa everyone knows everything, except when they don’t. And tonight I want to reiterate that to you.
But I also want to say something different, tonight I want to tell you to be optimistic.
The world, the county, your street, your home, runs on optimism. Our economy runs on optimism, it doesn’t run on dollars and cents, it runs on optimism.
The more we have, the more optimism that we have, all thing being equal, the better our economy is. Business owners that are optimistic grow their businesses, they expand their businesses. People that aren’t yet business owners, who are optimistic, start business’s because they hope that tomorrow will be better.
These actions create jobs, they stimulate the economy, they create a self-fulfilling prophecy, because of their optimism the economy grows. It is a self-fulfilling path to prosperity.
And in the past optimism wasn’t the problem. The problem was resources. We did not have resources. Mariposa County historically has not had water. Historically we haven’t had access to the resources of some of our neighboring counties. We didn’t have access to the right raw materials, to the right kinds of labor or the customers.
But in the last year through the work of the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber members and the Made in Mariposa program we’ve proven that we do not have that problem anymore.
We don’t have the problem of not having customers, we don’t have the problem of not having raw materials and we definitely don’t have a problem with labor.
Our Made in Mariposa Christmas store was a huge success! Not only did we prove that there were a hundred small business people in Mariposa county who would make something that someone would purchase, people in Mariposa county and across the valley visited the store and illustrated that there is a demand for our products, and our services.
Thousands of people shopped in Mariposa County this Christmas.
The Made in Mariposa Christmas store itself did $11,000 in revenue for the Made in Mariposa members. The Chamber of Commerce took nothing from that. We gave 100% of the sales receipts directly to the Made in Mariposa members who earned it.
The shop Mariposa this Christmas raffle campaign, I don’t know if you came into the visitors center for that, but if you didn’t, for every $10 that you spent in Mariposa county between Thanksgiving and Christmas we would give you one raffle ticket. From that then we would have a series of drawings every Friday in December.
We tracked those raffle tickets and there was $370,000 spent in Mariposa County right before Christmas. So give yourself a hand for that!
But not only that, through the Made in Mariposa Christmas store we had individuals who came into the store late in November or early in December and they saw the great handy-work that was for sale and they went home and they thought “You know what? I can do something.” And they sat in their garage or their workshop or in front of their television and they put something together. We, in fact, had 8 new made in Mariposa members who had never created a product before, who brought it in in the month of December, signed up to be a part of Made in Mariposa and sold a product. Right?!
The thing that we always say is that you don’t have a business until someone other than your mother buys one of your products. And with Made in Mariposa we proved that! We proved that!
And I hope that you recognize that Mariposa is exciting. Mariposa is exciting, Mariposa is optimistic and Mariposa is ready!
I said earlier that we don’t have the problem of not having customers any longer. Last year in 2016, 494,331 cars full of cash drove right through Mariposa on their way to Yosemite National Park.
494,331 cars… full of cash, ready to spend it, on their vacation.
We have places to sleep in Mariposa county, we have lodging, we have hotels, motels, we have bed and breakfast, we have vacation rentals. We have places to sleep. We have places to eat.
We have restaurants of all kinds and sizes and shapes and colors. We have retail stores of all kinds. But there is a missing leg of this tourism stool.
There is a missing leg to this tourism stool and every day at 2:00 the Mariposa County Chamber of Commerce runs the visitor center and every day at 2:00 like clockwork people begin entering the visitor center and they ask exactly the same question over and over and over again. They say “I have a place to sleep tonight, there are plenty of fine restaurants in town, but what do I do now?”
What is there for me to do? We try our best…
We send them to our stores, we send them to our museum and a half, we… send… them… out.
But I am calling upon you. You, the small business people. You, the not yet small business people. YOU. To service this.
We need attractions we need things to do in Mariposa county and this year with your help, with the help of the existing business’s with the help of brand new small business’s that have not yet been formed we are all going to work together and we are going to fix that.
The Chamber of Commerce will work with anyone, member or not, to create and market attraction businesses in Mariposa county.
From the obvious business’s like gold panning horseback riding to the obscure, there is a niche for every single one of you! And with 494,331 cars full of cash there is enough money to go around! And my hope is that in 2017 Mariposa County begins down the road, down the trail to becoming a destination and not a gas station.
So I would like you all to think, to look at the world differently than how we do.
We see Mariposa county and we know that it is absolutely special. We know that it has fantastic people who love each other and for all of their differences they live in the same place and they all love this place. But we need to look at this Mariposa county as outsiders and we need to see what things we have here that are special.
We look upon our hills and they are brown because there are bark beetles infesting our trees and killing off our forest. But we could sell tours of bark beetle infested land… ALL DAY LONG!
We can turn anything into an attraction. We had a conversation the other day, about turning the landfill, yes turning the landfill into a tour. Because if you live in a city, or you live in a foreign country, you don’t know where your garbage goes. You know that a truck boom booms down your road every morning but what happens to the garbage then?
I guarantee that 12-year-old boys would beg their parents, all day long, to see that! So I want you to think. Because we will work with you. We have the opportunity, we have the capability, of selling these attractions, these activities, to our visitors. So I hope that you will talk to your friends, your neighbors, your loved ones, your enemies and you will tell them that we need attractions.
Mariposa county must become a destination and not a gas station. And with that have we set out the cupcakes.
I hope you think about attraction ideas. I hope you come to me, talk to one of us, if you have one we will help you.