MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 1, 2013

New district could attract new visitors


— Action in Muskogee’s vision to create a dining and entertainment district is a great idea to attract tourists and visitors.

AIM’s Visioning Steering Committee has begun discussing ways to implement a “signature project.”

The project in some ways could mirror the MAPS project in Oklahoma City that led to Bricktown.

AIM’s scale would be smaller but could have the same potential impact on our city. Fort Smith, Ark., and Branson, Mo., also are models for what could happen here with the right plan.

That’s the key.

Muskogee needs attractions if we are to increase the number of visitors and overnight tourists.

Branding or marketing our city will not work without a basic reason to visit and stay overnight.

You may be able to attract the attention of out-of-towners with a catchy slogan. But to get those people to visit, there must be something worth visiting.

Muskogee has a lot of attractions.

Most, however, are consumed in less than one day.

We have several quality museums. But not enough for people to plan to spend an entire weekend.

The dining and entertainment district would increase sales tax revenue by bringing more people from outside Muskogee.

That would be a great start.

If enough good restaurants or other forms of entertainment were to sprout downtown, more out-of-towners would spend their money here.

AIM is on the right path by discussing the possibility of a dining and entertainment district.

It would complement the Shawnee area and would attract more visitors.

It is the right idea at the right time for Muskogee.