Destination Marketing and Economic Development, with Judy McKinney Cherry

Episode 207

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With transformation and culture change in her DNA, Judy McKinney-Cherry is a seasoned leader and successful entrepreneur recognized for her expertise in economic and community development. She is sought after and known for her ability to balance a strategic focus with boots on the ground pragmatism that she leverages to help emerging businesses forge growth trajectories and create sustainable and successful futures. Ms. Cherry is currently the Executive Director for SCOPED, the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, and the CEO/CFO for the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency. Ms. McKinney Cherrys diverse background includes over 25 years of executive experience across the private sector, public sector, and university settings including appointments by the Governors of New York and Delaware. Her service on numerous local, regional, and national Boards includes Corning Community College Regional Board of Trustees, CCS Workforce Investment & Opportunity Board, the Southern Tier Central Planning Council, Locate Finger Lakes!, Erie Canal Heritage Fund, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Regional Energy and Economic Development Corporation, to name a few. As a certified economic developer with fellow member status, she also serves on the International Economic Development Council Accreditation Committee. When she manages to pull herself away from doing the work she loves and for which she has an unwavering commitment, you can find her riding her BMW motorcycle, beekeeping, working with raptors, and spending time on the golf course. She currently resides in Watkins Glen with her husband, Phil, her corgi, Winston, and their chickens, Emily, Lucy, and Ethyl. Destination on the Left is joined by Judy McKinney Cherry, a seasoned economic and community development professional with a wealth of experience in the travel and tourism sector. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, as well as the CEO, CFO of the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency. Judy has a deep understanding of the role travel and tourism plays as an economic driver in destinations across the country. On our podcast, she joins us to share her story, highlighting the importance of housing in economic performance, and mapping out her collaborative framework as it relates to our 3C’s. What You Will Learn:
  • Travel and tourism’s role as an economic driver in communities across the country
  • Why housing is critical to the performance of any economy
  • Judy’s experience with collaboration, and how it ties into our 3C’s framework
  • How Judy’s public/private sector perspectives and experience with data influence her decisions
  • Why we need to approach tourism as so much more than promoting/marketing a destination
  • What Judy has done to help her organization stand out from the pack
  • How Judy’s team has used creativity and collaboration to navigate crises
  • How the pandemic has leveled the playing field in travel and tourism
Tourism is Part of the Economic Fabric Judy McKinney Cherry is a seasoned economic and community development professional with a wealth of experience in the travel and tourism sector. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development, as well as the CEO, CFO of the Schuyler County Industrial Development Agency. Judy has a deep understanding of the role travel and tourism plays as an economic driver in destinations across the country. On our podcast, Judy joins us to share her story, highlighting the importance of housing in economic performance, and mapping out her collaborative framework as it relates to our 3C’s. More Than Marketing Judy is extremely data-driven in her approach to strategy, and she views tourism as an economic driver. It is part of the economic fabric of every community, which is why tourism boards and organizations are so much more than marketers alone. If you look at tourism as an entire industry instead of a means of promoting your destination, then you will be able to thrive collectively. Tourism is not a subsect of economic development, it is part of it. And it is a way for communities to engage travelers in ongoing relationships that lead to potential opportunities for growth. Planning for What-If Scenarios In travel and tourism, Judy is always planning for the what-if scenarios. COVID is a good example because the entire industry transformed overnight. When destination marketers are only focused on promoting a destination, there is virtually nothing for them to do in a situation like this. But when they operate as an integral part of a destination’s economic development, they can help fill in the gaps wherever it is necessary. The essence of creativity is problem-solving. When you combine that with collaboration and a willing network of organizations that have a location’s best interest in mind, disaster scenarios are easier to manage.

Nicole Mahoney: 00:23 Hi listeners. This is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week. So with another brilliant guest, Judy McKinney, cherry executive director of the Schuyler County partnership for economic development and co-chair of the Southern tier regional economic development council in New York state, you’re going to enjoy this conversation. As we gain insight into the perspective of an experienced economic development professional, it will be music to your ears to hear Judy talk about the importance of tourism as an economic driver, not just for the community she represents, but she believes in its importance for every community. Judy opened my eyes to the important role housing plays in a vibrant economy, and she shares her perspective on collaboration. Teaching me about three CS that she follows, which are perfect compliment to the three CS of a collaboration framework that I talked about on my last solo cast episode, get your pen and paper ready. I am certain, you will want to take lots of notes on this one, but first a little more about Judy with transformation and culture change in her DNA.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:32 Judy McKinney cherry is a seasoned leader and successful entrepreneur recognized for her expertise in economic and community development. She is sought after and known for her ability to balance a strategic focus with a boots on the ground, pragmatism that she leverages to help emerging businesses for growth trajectories and create sustainable and successful futures. Judy is currently the executive director for the Schuyler County partnership for economic development and the CEO CFO for the Schuyler County industrial development agency. Her diverse background includes over 25 years of executive experience across the private sector, public sector and university settings, including appointments by the governors of New York and Delaware for service on numerous local regional and national boards includes Corning community college, regional board of trustees, CC as workforce investment and opportunity board, the Southern tier central planning council locate finger lakes, Erie canal, heritage fund walk-ins Glen area chamber of commerce, regional energy and economic development corporation.

Nicole Mahoney: 02:48 Just to name a few as a certified economic developer with fellow member status, she also serves on the international economic development council accreditation. When Judy manages to pull herself away from doing the work she loves and for what she has an unwavering commitment, you can find her riding her BMW motorcycle, beekeeping working with Raptors and spending time on the golf course. Judy currently resides in Watkins Glen with her husband, Phil, her corgi, Winston, and their chickens, Emily, Lucy, and Ethel. I know you will gain a lot from this conversation, but before we dive into the interview, I want to share this important information with you, Judy, thank you so much for joining us today. I know this is going to be a very fun and interesting conversation, but before we dive in, could you share your story with our listeners in your own words? I find it gives so much more context to our conversation.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 03:50 Well, thank you, Nicole. And I’d be glad to do that. I, um, uh, I’ve been here in Schuyler County, uh, in New York, um, for six years. So I am still pretty new and still loving the discovery that I find around every corner. But, um, prior to coming here, I like this. If I started with, uh, from a linear perspective, I started my career really as a demographer. So, um, at a state level in economic development, um, which also housed our tourism department, uh, for the state. So I cut my teeth on data that was related to economic development proposals and, uh, and tourism. Um, I, you know, had a background in computer programming and went to school at Utah state university, uh, for wildlife management. So I did have a lot of programming and statistical, um, data experience in my background. So that sort of landed me there.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 04:49 And because of that, I was very active in geographic information systems back in 1988. So it was before way before anyone else was. So I was, I’ve always been sort of a technological sort of junkie. And, um, and so I worked there in the research department and at the state level, it was part of the executive department, um, for eight years and then, um, chose to jump into the private sector and went to work for a technology company and, um, was responsible after about three years of being there. I was responsible for about $30 million of the business, um, including the, our offices in Dallas, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and all of our government, uh, business. So we were not a big company. We’re about a hundred million dollar company, but I was, um, the executive in charge of $30 million of net net profit. So I’m sorry that was a revenue.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 05:46 Um, but I was paid on that profit. So it was pretty interesting. I retired from that company, um, and then went, uh, to work in the executive, went back to the economic development, uh, department that I had been a researcher in as the cabinet secretary. So, or as we call in New York a commissioner. So I was responsible for the whole department and it still held, uh, tourism and small business and financing and incentives and everything that empire state development does here. We were doing there just on a little bit of a smaller geographical level. And I was in that department from, uh, late Oh two until early Oh nine. And so, um, I would say that from my background, uh, I certainly had a private sector business experience and then also public sector, both as a frontline person, as well as a, uh, cabinet level official who was responsible for policy and, um, making, um, uh, promulgating laws for the, for the, um, legislature to consider.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 07:02 That’s a, that’s an amazing background. I’m going to have you connect the dots right to where you are today, but before you do that, I just had a couple of things I wanted to point out that I find extremely interesting and why I’m really excited to talk to you today. And that is, uh, first of all, that you’re grounded in data. So when I hear that, I hear you’re grounded in strategy and my audience knows that I am, I love strategy. I think strategy comes first all the time. Um, so I’m really interested to hear your perspective about kind of how that data, you know, has helped you make decisions, um, over the course of your career. And hopefully we’ll get to some of that in our conversation. Um, and then also that you have this, you know, private sector or public sector, um, perspective, which I think is so important for the role, especially that you’re in today, which is this role, you know, of economic development, Schuyler County in the finger lakes.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 08:03 Um, can you talk a little bit about how, you know, you made it to New York from, you know, from that cabinet cabinet secretary position that you had in Oh nine, right. So, um, you know, in Delaware that governor was, was term limited and therefore the cabinet many cases as well, because you serve at the pleasure of the governor. And so in Oh nine, I, uh, I left, uh, this, the state’s, uh, government role and, uh, took on a position with the university of Delaware and, um, did some work for the, for the, uh, federal government, um, on the deep water spill and some other work like that, just some work in Mississippi and Maryland. And so it was pretty, um, I would say comfortable, uh, with, with sort of just, um, having my own shingle. And, um, my husband who’s in New York native said, you know, he’s getting close to retirement and said, you know, I’d like to retire someplace where I can have a sailboat. And so I think you should find a job somewhere. That’s not too far from here where we could like commute back and forth, um, until I retire and we’ll see if we want to be there. And so I happened to put a search engine in and said, looking for economic development, CEO, you know, president, um, and, uh, with Lake and this job popped up and that’s it, it’s that simple.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 09:35 Yeah, that is great. And, um, so these are the search terms. We need to make sure we’re optimizing for, well, you know, it all comes down, I think to, you know, what your acid is right. In this case, the asset was the Lake. They had that in one of the, you know, in one of the, um, descriptions and, um, and it worked that it worked. So I just love that. Um, well, I think that’s great and thank you so much for sharing, you know, kind of your journey and, um, and all of the roles that you’ve had, because it really does give us a much better picture about the perspective that you’re going to bring to this conversation. And I’d love to jump into this first question, which is around the topic of creativity and, um, you’re coming, you’re coming at this conversation from an economic development perspective, but I know you’ve got a lot of knowledge about tourism as well, especially as, you know, it might be considered a pillar or a key driver for economic development and the different roles that you’ve had.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 10:39 Um, and so I’m curious, um, you know, how have you seen your, your role in terms of what you’re trying to market? Can you talk to us a little bit actually about how you’re marketing and how you view tourism, and then from there, maybe we’ll talk a little bit about some of the creativity that you brought in, but I think it would be actually more helpful to talk about let’s frame this conversation between economic and tourism. Yeah. So if you don’t mind, I am going to sort of give a little bit of history just because I think it’s important for your listeners to, to, to have a sense. So I am very data-driven and, and when, um, and I view tourism as an economic driver, I, I view tourism as part of an economic fabric of a community. Every community should have just like you would have, um, retail manufacturing, you’ve got tourism.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 11:37 And in, in Delaware, um, the organization, the tourism was, it was, was solely focused on promotion solely, um, on promotion. And so when I took the leadership role, what I said is, no, it’s more important than that. It is a cluster. It is a cluster, just like life sciences is a cluster just like automobiles, you know, manufacturing as a cluster. And so what I found is that many of the, many of those in tourism really do view themselves simply as marketers and I view their role is so much more important and so much more is so much more critical to a community because it, where else do they go? Right. If, if, if you’re looking at tourism as an industry, now you begin to see the linkages and you begin to see that it’s not just, it’s not just motels and restaurants. It’s everything that goes into it.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 12:39 If you’ve got road construction going on, you’re, you’re, you’re doomed, right. Especially if you’ve got one road in and out, so you better have a way to be able to say, we are an industry. We’re not just promoting our area. We are collectively very large. So I think that that’s a good sort of, I just give you that as sort of a context to sort of say where I am, where I am here in Schuyler County, we are very seasonal and we are definitely it. Tourism is, uh, our, uh, pillar, uh, here locally. It is clearly part of, it’s not, it’s not separate from economic development. It’s not a subset. It is part of it. It is no different than, as I said, uh, manufac, you know, having a cluster of, of, um, in, in the ag space or anything like that. So I would say that I view it that way.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 13:34 I, I view promotion of tourism, just like I would view promotion of life sciences or promotion of what products or promotion of nano-technology it is that you’re promoting what you have. And it’s the same thing. So in some ways, I guess I view it equally in economic development. Um, what is interesting, and I’ll just share this as that in a lot of places. And I believe this as well, you know, tourism is your first is your best foot forward. That is your hospitality. That is the foot that says, we want you here. We love you. We, uh, we’re going to make sure that when you come and you visit that, you want to come back, that it’s not just a one and done right. That it is a repetitive process. And I think that it’s through that, that you have an opportunity to then have CEOs and their families and individuals that are doing site selection to actually see your community.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 14:38 Um, so you don’t know who those people are that are coming through your community and all they need is a couple of negative experiences. And you know, what you might’ve had is a potential little business coming in and maybe in a big business coming in now goes somewhere else because they had a negative comment made, or perhaps it was a shopkeeper that was having a bad day that said, I hate tourists. You know, we’ve had that happen, we’ve all had that happen. And so, um, that’s a long answer too. It’s vitally important. And part of economic development, it is not a separate, um, as an industry, it is not a separate, um, program. It’s part of it.

Speaker 4: 15:20 Absolutely. And so just as a follow-up to that, um, when you think about the role as the economic development organization for, you know, for your County or for, for any, um, community, um, how do you see your role supporting tourism? And, and I guess maybe can you give us some examples of maybe how it goes beyond the promotion piece?

Judy McKinney Cherry: 15:45 Right. So, um, I think that, uh, I’ll use the pandemic as a great example. So, you know, anytime in today’s world, you have to plan, and I do this all the time. I’m always planning the, what ifs what’s going to happen. What if, you know, what if, Oh my goodness, we had the lantern fly show up here, right in our, in our vineyards were, uh, decimated, always planning for the what ifs. So I think to the reason I say that’s because the pandemic was one of those that all of the sudden the world changed overnight. And so PR from a promotion perspective, what do promoters do? Like all my goodness, there’s nothing for us to do. But in reality, as an industry, what, what we did here in my, in my, in my business, we literally created a help desk. And we quite literally worked 14, 16 hours a day helping these individual businesses in my tourism industry, helping them apply for PPP, apply for EIDM.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 16:49 These are the federal programs, figuring out whether they should have pandemic unemployment or regular unemployment, whether it was an opportunity to do shared work. So we were literally triaging and providing one-on-one support. And I tell you what it did. It really gave me such a grounding because these businesses for bringing in their tax returns for me to be able to figure out what was the right, uh, the right Avenue for them to go, which having a business background really helped me to be able to do that. And so it’s very different. I mean, it was, so I say that because it’s not that we, it’s not that it’s not that I looked at the industry and said, well, there’s no, there’s no tourists coming. So we don’t really need to do anything. I was just, the opposite was like this industry, we have to keep it strong so we can get through the dearth of visitors. Um, and so, you know, part of that, and we’ll talk about creativity a bit later, but part of that is saying, okay, I know they’re going to be in trouble next year because we didn’t have a full year of, of tourist activity. So they’re gonna be in trouble. So I need to figure out how I’m going to have long programs, not this year, but for next year, when it’s time to start, you know, gear up again for the next season. So that’s, those are the things that go through my head.

Speaker 4: 18:08 Yeah, I think, yes, absolutely. And I love the context of the, what ifs and thinking about the, what ifs and, um, trying to stay, you know, a little bit of a step of a step ahead. I don’t think any of us were really a step ahead of the pandemic, but your ability to, you know, to understand what was happening and find the gaps where you needed to serve. Um, so quickly, you know, I think is a good example of trying to stay a step ahead

Judy McKinney Cherry: 18:39 And I’ll tell you if it was because I was in my role in another state when the, uh, avian flu, uh, erupted, and that really, um, really impacted, uh, one of our industry clusters in ag. And so I knew from that point that it was, this was really serious and that our businesses would be in trouble. So I knew we had, we had to have, you know, feet on the ground and we had to be offering one-on-one.

Speaker 4: 19:09 Absolutely. I think that’s terrific. Well, let’s talk a little bit about creativity then. So, um, in, you know, in thinking about, uh, all of the things that you have done over the years, um, you know, it is a pretty competitive place. I love that in your story. You’re like my husband wanted to live somewhere where he sales. So I searched for this job and put the qualifier late. Um, but you know, that’s literally, it, you, you never know, right? There’s so many choices of places to go and, and you don’t know what people typically are looking for. Um, so I’m wondering what you have done to really help, um, you know, your organization stand out from the crowd,

Judy McKinney Cherry: 19:50 Right? So we about, um, so first of all, what I would say, and this is important to know is that in economic development, the most important the most, and it has been by the way, for the last 15 years, the most important thing you have to have is labor. And in order to have available labor, you have to have housing. So the most important thing is of course housing, and then you get labor. And for us here in New York, the most important thing I can do right now is figure out how to get people to move here. Because if we don’t have people moving here, we will not have, again, it’s a complete fabric. It’s a, your economy is a fabric, right? That is, um, made up of multiple layers and threads. And, and when you’re missing, a major thread could be tourism could be manufacturing.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 20:40 You know, your, your, your fabric is weak. And so I share that because we know attracting residents is our number one goal. It, no question about it. And it should be for all of upstate New York, because you cannot survive. If you don’t have people and you cannot get them to move here, if you don’t have housing. So there’s a couple, you know, chicken and egg things we have to do. So what we’ve done and we started this last year, last year, we started a stay, play Sinica Lake, um, campaign, and we’re just essentially working to make sure that we have, um, you know, and I think with the Mo what our motto was, you came to play. Now, why not stay if you can work remotely? Why not here? And if you notice this has been picked up this year because of the pandemic, it’s been picked up by many of the Island countries, uh, for remote workers.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 21:41 And so we had actually started that, Oh my goodness, probably two years ago, we started talking about what do we have to do to get remote workers? How do we create a, um, a coworking space? So people that are here visiting can stay. And so that is one thing. And so I would tell you that if there’s one thing I hope your listeners will hear, please, if you’re, if you’re in New York, please figure out a way to attract new residents. Um, because tourists come, they leave money and they go, but in the winter time, unless you are a year round destination, your community will not thrive and will not survive. Um, if you don’t have, um, year-round residents, if we continue with our out migration.

Speaker 4: 22:27 Yeah, absolutely. And I, I love that, um, stay placed on a collate campaign and, uh, you’re you’re so right there actually have been studies done. National studies done that have proven that people are more likely to, uh, move to a location where they have visited, um, rather than just picking a place called that they have very little to know about or something they just learned about on the, you know, on, on the web. Um, so targeting those visitors as residents seems to me to be low hanging fruit. Right.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 22:58 And I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that whenever I visit somewhere else, I’m always looking at the houses for sale. Like, I don’t even know why that is, but you know, you’re, you’re walking by a window and it’s a real estate window. And you’re like looking all, let me look at the price of the houses and let me see what they have here. And it’s, and so I think we miss those eyeballs, right. Cause people, people, um, I think there is a sense of adventure. And right now there’s certainly a desire for safe. They’re looking for to be safe. They’re looking for places that are not too far away from where they perhaps where they are in an urban setting where they feel that it’s rural and they’re safe. And that’s why the housing market’s going gangbusters right now.

Speaker 4: 23:42 And upstate yeah. Yeah. It was going gangbusters before the pandemic and now even more so. Right. Yeah, absolutely. So, um, you know, we’re already talking a little bit about this, but I, I want to just get your take on this because I’m the type of person who, when I see an adversity or a challenge, you know, I want to rise to the occasion. I, I, I get a little excited cause I can really think outside of the backs and, you know, problem solve. That’s kind of like my thing I love to problem solve. So I’m curious if you have an example of either this, um, you know, this challenge that we’re in with the pandemic or another challenge, um, where you’ve faced some sort of adversity or challenge and then have this really out of the box idea or creative solution come up, uh, you know, to help meet that.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 24:32 Well, I can give you two of them then they’re not necessarily in the, in the, uh, tourism. Oh, actually, no, it, it is not, it wasn’t tourism. It was, uh, it was okay. I, I have three that are sort of really out of the box. One was labor related. So we had a labor problem with, with, um, getting, uh, labor into a particular industry. And so, uh, and the labor that was typically in that industry was migrant workers. And so, uh, we really didn’t know what to do. And in our industry, that particular cluster was really in trouble. And so we, um, were able to get the national guard to fly to one of, um, it flew down to, I think it was Puerto Rico or one of the, you know, w where we didn’t have to have visas and picked up the families and brought them up.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 25:25 And so they would work. So that was an interesting out of the box. Like, how do you get workers here, um, that can’t afford to come. And yet, so that was one. The other one probably that I’m, I’m probably most proud of, um, is, um, you know, anyone who knows the state of Delaware knows that it’s, uh, it’s the corporate state and it was all large business, uh, very little entrepreneurial-ism at the time. Um, not as many small businesses, it’s really very corporate. And so we do, we needed to do something about that, um, looking out. And so we were able to convince the DuPont company to donate 250 technology patents to the state, which had never been done before, by any state, they donated the patents so that we could make them available to entrepreneurs to start businesses. Wow. Yes, it had never been done before.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 26:23 It took two years for us to work through the details. And so I share that because I think in any case, anytime you’re, you’re met with a challenge, there’s a couple of things I believe one is you never solve it on your own. Um, you really have to be open and you have to not be looking for change, but transformation, I have a definition change means you’re going to make something better, quicker, faster, right? Change is you’re starting from some base that you, that you are just going to modify, right? Some something transformation is where, Oh my gosh, the world just ended. We have to start from scratch. So how do we envision that? And how do we move forward? So it’s changed versus transformation. And I think in some cases right now with the pandemic, it’s not change. It’s really transformation. That’s where I’m seeing these a lot of the businesses, you know, you hear the word pivot.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 27:16 It sounds like, well, I just turned a little bit. Some of these businesses completely upended their, their business model in order to be successful. And I think that that’s what we have to be thinking about going forward. And that is something that can be scary for many people. I happen to believe that the best way to do, to implement transformation and change. And if you’re being faced with a major obstacle is to talk to other people, not your regular peers, talk to people outside your normal peer group that are out of the box thinkers and just say, what do you think about this? Right. It’s it’s how do we think about the goal that we want to get to in a different way? So, uh, I’ll just share this. So we have a little company that, um, makes chocolate covered, um, uh, Gravano beans, right?

Judy McKinney Cherry: 28:10 They, they make a flower and they’re, they’re sold and Wegmans it’s right here in the region. And they, I asked them, I said, where do you get your chickpeas from? Tell me about your supply chain. And they said, Oh, they come up from Arizona. And I said, Oh, well, why aren’t you getting them in New York? Well, they don’t grow in New York. And I said, well, how come they don’t grow in New York? We don’t know. So I did a lot of little research and found out that no one had ever tried to grow chickpeas in New York. And so guess what, we’re growing three acres of chickpeas. We’re going to harvest them, uh, here, probably in the next week or so. And it’s the first time they ever have been grown in the state of New York in a large field planted, sort of from a commercial perspective.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 28:48 And so, um, I’m sharing that because that’s an example of, I heard the business there, you know, they’ve got a supply chain constraint because they’re bringing these up from Arizona and we’ve got to The Bahamas. How do we, how do we create and diversify in our ag space? And let’s just try it. What if it doesn’t work? It doesn’t work. But I think you have to be willing to take, um, calculated risk, um, and say, see if I can find some partners. So we partnered with, you know, uh, at The Bahamas and antithesis and some other, um, entrepreneurs in order to get these chickpeas in the ground. I guess it could be a tourism. Think about this. It could be an attraction, right? The only chickpeas, I actually feel like chickpeas, maybe even like EAs.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 29:44 No, but I love that. That’s such a great example of out of the box thinking, and I so appreciate you taking us down this path of the difference between change and transformation. Um, and we are in the middle of a huge transformation for our entire industry. Um, and what’s so interesting about it is that really everyone in the world is in the same place because of this pandemic. And so on the one hand, it’s an incredibly challenging time for sure. There’s no denying that, but on the other hand, it’s this tremendous opportunity. I think. Um, I agree. I agree. I think that, um, you know, when you, when you take a look at any adversity, um, there will always be. And in fact, normally speaking, you would expect to see in a major recession, you would expect to see about 25% of your small businesses fail.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 30:37 Right. They may have already been walking zombies, right. They may have already been dead, but just didn’t know it yet. Right. And so quite unfortunate, but that is the case. And so you’ll also see which businesses truly have the ability to rethink about their business and say, how are we going to meet this head on, right. We’re not going to wait for it to come back the way it was. And that’s, that’s what I saw was some businesses said, well, I’m just going to wait this out. Cause I know we’re going to go back to normal. And I said, no, there is, there is a new normal, and it’s, it’s, it’s beyond your reach right now. So we need every, you need every handle on, on, on deck to make sure that you’re going to get through this it’s. So it’s been, you know, I think it’s been interesting.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 31:22 I’ve had good partnerships, just, you know, from a partnership perspective, you know, when the pandemic first hit, you know, we, we sort of, we pulled together the, um, you know, the wine trail, uh, leadership, the chamber leadership, the County legislative leadership, and to sort of say, okay, what do we have to do here? And there’s a role for everybody to play. And so I think that the most successful communities were the ones that collaboratively said, how are we going to do this? You know, what we did here in the Southern tier was quite literally, we were able to get all of the ideas, you know, all of the economic development organizations, you know, on a zoom call regularly to say, okay, what are you doing? Okay, what’s that best practice? Can you share that? And so, so we weren’t all reinventing the wheel. We were learning from each other.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 32:09 It was, it was actually really quite, I think, really quite, um, impressive. And I’m, I’m very grateful that we have the folks that we have in economic development, very grateful for the chamber, you know, all the chambers. I mean, I think they had to step up as well. Those that are in the, you know, predominantly sort of in the promotion, um, space. I think that, I think that they did a really nice job sort of moving over and putting out the communication, sending the communication out to their members that said, okay, this is what we’re doing with paws. This is where we are today. This is what we have to do. I mean, so, so I feel really blessed that I have a, uh, you know, a really good solid, you know, chamber partner here in Schuyler.

Speaker 4: 32:54 Oh, absolutely. And that is just a perfect segue into one of my favorite topics, which is the topic of collaboration. And, um, I think that’s amazing that you had these calls with the IDH because I don’t, I don’t know, but I imagine in general ideas are competing for business in usual circumstances. Um, so that you’re all together. I’d like to call this co-operative and you’re all together and co-op cooperating with each other and collaborating because we know that the greater good, right. We can, we can work together. So I think that’s

Judy McKinney Cherry: 33:35 So, so this is really interesting. And again, it’s probably because I’m a, I’m a data junkie, right? So if a company moves from New York to Tennessee, it doesn’t help our country. It helps Tennessee. It hurts New York, it doesn’t help our country. So my attitude has always been, if you’re just moving a company from one place to another, and it’s not for the good of the company, it’s just because they’re getting taxes and M’s or something. I think that that’s not good public policy. Um, what you’d rather see as a company expanding into your area or expanding into Tennessee, right? You want them to be successful. So I share that because I’m someone who does not believe that economic development stops at my County border, that, and I have in fact sent properties from my surrounding counties into a PR into an RFP, into an RFI.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 34:28 Um, so, you know, submitted it because it, I didn’t have a pro uh, a property that would fit, but I knew right across the line, there was one that would work. And in fact, this afternoon I’ll be meeting, um, with some folks to help them figure out how we’re going to market a large property in another County. So I am a firm believer that economic development is regional, but I will share with you. And I learned this when I was at, at, at my technology company, I learned the three CS and the three CS are collaborate, cooperate, compete, okay. Those are the three areas. And I learned this and the differences are, so when you’re in, when you’re in business, you’re going to find times. And even if you’re the tourism business, you got to know this. There are times when you, you absolutely will compete head on, you know, you’re going at it.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 35:17 You have all the right assets. You you’re, you’re as good for that particular, um, uh, program as anybody else. So you’re putting your own best foot forward because you want to win it. So that’s your, that’s your compete then? There’s the, um, you know, collaborate, right. Which I love how you just talked about that. Uh, the, so we can collaborate, you know, when I, we collaborate with say an IBM or with an HP or with one of these larger companies, what you’re doing then is you’re working together and you’re putting one proposal in for this opportunity. It’s one proposal, but you, but you both have worked on it and you both have pieces of that one proposal. And so I had that opportunity. And then the third one is the cooperate one. And the best way to describe that is where quite frankly, you would sit down and you would say, okay, IBM, you’re going to you’re, you know, we’re, we really feel strongly that we have the right workforce training solution and that’s your weakest piece, but you’ve really strong in whatever, you know, struck constructor cable in or something.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 36:21 And then we would literally, we would put in two separate proposals, but we knew we were strong in one area and we did not compete for this other area that the other company was putting in for. And I mean that, so that’s your, so for me, it’s really clear. One is a head-on competition. The second one is one proposal with people, you know, um, collaborating on that proposal. And the third one is you got two or more proposals going in, but you know, your strengths and you only go after your strengths so that your other partner can get what they’re strong in. So that collectively it’s the right answer. And so I think that’s, so when I think about what we’re doing in economic development, yes, it is definitely a competitive situation. However, and I’ll say this about tourism. It doesn’t matter whether it’s weather. It doesn’t matter what your business is. If you know what your strengths are and you know, what your assets are and you know, what your niche is, then you shouldn’t be competing against somebody else. You really should be standing out by yourself because you know what you have that D that defines you differently. And if you don’t know what defines you differently than your cat, your neighbor next door, or your business next door, you know, that’s a bigger problem.

Speaker 4: 37:49 Absolutely. Um, you just gave, um, our listeners so many awesome golden nuggets, and I hope they caught them on. I know they can go back and re-listen to this if they missed any. Um, but I’ve got to say your three C’s I’m sitting here smiling, because, um, I shared with you before we started recording the show that I’m working on a keynote around the topic of collaboration. And in my keynote, I introduced a concept of the three CS collaboration. Um, but my three CS are around, how do we collaborate better? And it’s communication, commonality and commitment. So you just listed all these other CS, three CS now to think about. And I thought, Oh my God, but what you just said,

Judy McKinney Cherry: 38:40 Paul is so correct. So the communication piece and it’s, it is so, um, it’s so valuable, like is as weird as it sounds. And I’ll say this as weird as it sounds, you know, you’re right. Ideas, you know, compete, head on, but when you have a common need, a common goal, you know, you’re only as strong, you know, you’re not, you’re not going to have one person be strong in the Southern tier and the rest fail everybody’s in this. If we can just, it’s sort of, if we can just think about what we’re doing as, you know, sort of collectively, it’s the collective good that we’re here for? It’s not for the good of my little, you know, my, my little tiny community, because my little tiny community won’t survive if the rest of the state does not. And I may not, like, I feel very strongly about that. We, we have to be strong as a state and then we have to be strong as individual pieces of it.

Speaker 4: 39:40 Absolutely. I think that’s fantastic. Well, I want, I have two more questions. I want to make sure we get through and I want to be respectful of time as well. So let me go to this next question. And then I’m going to ask you kind of find one at the end, but we’ve talked so much about this already, and I know you’ve hit on it in so many different ways, but I’d love to have you just speak to it more specifically. And that is this whole idea about the evolution of destination marketing and what you called promotion, you know, destination marketers becoming more like community managers, having a more holistic approach to the destination, um, and just the promotion piece. And so I’m wondering if, you know, you can speak a little bit more about, and just kind of pull it, pull this all together. Cause this whole conversation has kind of been building to this on, um, you know, really where does tourism marketing need to go to be more holistic in that regard?

Judy McKinney Cherry: 40:43 Yeah, that is such a great question. And I think that is one that, um, you know, that we have to, again, we have to remember that everybody’s perspective is the right one for them. So I’m very, um, aware of that. I believe that destination marketing, um, it clearly has to still exist, but I, but I would, what I would say is that if, and I’ll take that back, actually, I’m not going to say that it has to exist. What I’m going to say is that it is tradition. It is tradition and it perhaps may not be as valuable now as it was before we had all these fabulous search engines. And I also think that you talked, you heard me talk about the fabric earlier. It is the same, um, for when we’re marketing our communities. We, we have to, I believe that we have to, uh, move from, we have to evolve from being a destination only promotion driven, you know, entity to one where we’re saying, what is it that our community needs?

Judy McKinney Cherry: 41:55 What do we need and how does my skill, my talent, and my reach allow us to achieve the goal that my community has and what it needs. And if, and if what the community needs is promotion of a particular destination. Okay. Then, but at least now, you know that you’re, you’re meeting the goals of that community. I’m going to suggest to you that more than likely in New York, majority of our smaller communities, what they need is residents that they need to be attracting new young. And I say, young, I’m talking under 70. They can take, I’ll take a, I’ll take a retiree in a heartbeat, in a heartbeat, I’ll take a vibrant retiree, um, that that’s going to give back, right? So I think that the, that has to be an evolution that, that occurs, that moves us into really a community minded. Um, I’m not suggesting that you get into, you know, redevelopment of the community, but understand the role, which is a critical role to be able to say, look on my website.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 43:08 It’s not just where to go, to, to find these things to do recreationally or culturally or historically, here’s a place on my website that says, look, you’re here. Here’s what you need to know about our housing stock. Here’s what you need to know about our school districts. Here’s what you need to know about moving here. We want you to come and play and then we want you to stay and we really have to move there. I think that that’s a big, big piece for New York. Um, upstate New York. The other piece is being able, and we did this. I will tell you, this is important. There was a perception, again, in another life of mine, there was a perception that tourism was just ads. That was, it was just ads. And we didn’t need any more people at the beaches, right? So you had people that were like anti do not bring any more people in it’s.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 44:02 You know, we are already saturated, there was this and this pushback. And so we had to do two things. We had to show the value of tourism, its economic value to the, to the community. But more importantly, we had to listen and say, they’re right. We don’t need to market the beaches. We need to market the other places around our state because that’s where they need to go. Not, um, not in, um, that’s where we need to market to. And so again, I’m saying this because you have to be thinking and listening to your community. And so, um, I think that was a long way of saying, um, know what your vulnerabilities are, know that from just a destination marketing, that’s probably not going to be invoked for the next 10 years. It’s going to cause it doesn’t matter. I started it by saying that I’ll end and that will be, it doesn’t matter if you have the best attraction or the best destination, if the rest of your community has fallen apart, people will come once and never again.

Speaker 4: 45:05 Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, um, that that point that you just made was so evident actually, and the communities that really stood up and responded to the pandemic. And you mentioned that even earlier, how your community, you know, your chamber was really good at getting the communication out. Um, you know, a lot of destination marketing organizations turned into being that communication conduit for the community. Um, getting people to explore their own backyards, giving people things to do as they were under locked down, you know, all of these things and serving the interior, right. The internal community versus trying to be so frightened. So it’ll be interesting to see how this transformation really does take hold right over the next, uh, like you said, decade, um, as we come out of this pandemic and then, and then just see where it goes,

Judy McKinney Cherry: 45:57 Wouldn’t it be great if we had, wouldn’t it be great if we had, um, trails that allowed someone to come to New York and spend 10 days and in those 10 days they visited six different six different counties. I mean, you put a trail together that is unique and different. Maybe it’s a jewelry making trail, right. You find people who make jewelry, good jewelry. That’s that’s juried, right. That’s nice. And you put a trail together, but to do that, you’d have to get three or four of our tourism promotion agencies to get together to say, do you even know where there are people making jewelry right. In your community that would open up their shop and have hours? I mean, you hear about the wine trail, but a year about a beer trail. Well, there’s all these other crafts out there and people are looking for an authentic, you know, an authentic, you know, experience. Um, and for me again, that’s that part of that cooperation is how do you get, how do you get someone to come and experience more than just, you know, that, that one location, you know, who they extend their stay, um, by doing that. So

Speaker 4: 47:11 Exactly love it. You’re so full of ideas. And I know you have, I want to ask you this last kind of bonus question, um, cause you are an out of the box thinker and so creative. And so I’m wondering Judy, if there was one thing that you think this region could really use something really unique, what would that one thing be? And I know you’ve given some thought to this, I have given some thought to this and this is out of the box.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 47:38 So, um, so I have, uh, I have, uh, I have a passion for, uh, falconry. And so the one thing that I fear that I have not seen, I have not seen on the East coast. Okay. So there are places you can go and learn, but I’ve never seen anyone marketing, a falconry meat. And so falconers will in fact meet up. And there are certain Raptors that will hunt as a group. And so it’s literally a meat just like having a dog show or not dog show, but you know, having some sort of a, um, getting together and putting, putting your birds together and actually competing. And that would be an incredible, um, attraction, especially since it doesn’t exist. So people travel all over the world for, for falconry events and we don’t have any, they’re all very they’re happening, but they’re all being done very quietly. And I think there’s a great opportunity because we have open fields and you could literally, you know, um, you could quite literally have a whole new audience because we have birdwatchers that come and falconers are on the other, on the other end of the spectrum.

Speaker 4: 48:53 Yeah, I think that’s awesome. And I had to ask that question because our listeners definitely heard, uh, in your bio, um, about your love of Raptors. So we really needed to get that explanation explanation. We made them wait all the way til the end, but I love that. And it’s just, you know, another example of really thinking outside the box and here we have this economic development professional giving out ideas for, for new businesses who knows what entrepreneur might take you up on that.

Judy McKinney Cherry: 49:24 That’s great. I have enjoyed this too, Nicole and I, um, I really appreciate what you’re doing to take the, um, you know, take the initiative to really move the industry forward and to provide this, um, communication strategy and this communication to your listeners, uh, to give them things to think about. I, I’m an, uh, I’m a, I’m a continuous learner. I love to learn something every day. And so I think, uh, and I’ve learned some things from you today. So I took some notes while we were talking so

Speaker 4: 49:55 Fantastic. Well, thank you so much, Judy, thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to tell you about our weekly. I see. Why am I in case you missed it? III newsletter each week, along with our podcast episode, we share an article written by one of the break, the ice media team members about the travel and tourism industry, our articles mirror, the mix of industry segments and topics similar to this podcast to join our newsletter techs, D O T L two six six eight six six, or visit break the ice forward slash blog.

Speaker 5: 50:33 It’s time to hit the road again, visit destination on the during your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas.

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