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City’s newly formed Hospitality & Downtown Dept. detailed

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By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

The City of Bastrop has undergone a restructuring with the establishment of a new department that places several departments ‘under one umbrella’ to increase efficiency and provide better service to customers, said Main Street Director Sarah O’Brien, who heads up the new department.

Bastrop Convention and Exhibit Center (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

The recently formed department is named the Hospitality and Downtown Department (HDD). Under HDD’s umbrella will now be the Convention and Exhibit Center (with Director Kathy Danielson still overseeing that operation), the Main Street Department, Recreation/Special Events and the Multi-Media Department. Colin Guerra, who has previously performed media/computer-tech duties with the city’s Information Technology Department, has the new title of Chief Storyteller for the multi-media department. He will focus on “telling the City’s story” through video/photo production and related assignments. His assistant is Chris White.

Main Street Director Sarah O'Brien (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

O’Brien said the reorganization also has benefits for the Convention and Exhibit Center. “We knew that the team at the Convention Center was passionate about what they do and that by combining their talents and efforts with those of the Main Street Program, we would be able to have a much greater economic impact in the Main Street Program area and at the Center,” O’Brien said. The name Hospitality & Downtown Department title reflects its several missions, O’Brien explained. “With Bastrop’s strong tourism industry, and the City’s new customer service approach, it made perfect sense to incorporate ‘Hospitality’ into our new department name. And of course, we had to have it followed by ‘Downtown’ – as Downtown has and will remain a primary focus of this new department,” she said.

Bastrop City Manager Lynda HumbleCity Manager on Restructuring – City Manager Lynda Humble, who has overseen the restructuring, seconded O’Brien’s words about the benefits of combining several City departments. “There seemed to be an opportunity to create natural synergy by putting Main Street, the Convention Center, Multi-Media Department and Recreation/Special Events under one umbrella,” Humble said. “The Hospitality & Downtown Department will leverage our resources to create a greater economic impact to the Bastrop Community through downtown revitalization and beautification, unique event partnerships, top-notch event planning and meeting space, and creative dialogue with our community and partners.”

Humble added, “Through the addition of our Multi-Media Department we will be able to tell the City’s story by educating our customers – through a variety of mediums on a regular basis – on the value they receive for their tax dollars. We also want to expand on our two-way dialogue, so we can be as responsive as possible to our customers’ needs.  The Hospitality & Downtown Department is focused on increasing our efforts to generate additional sales tax collections and tourism dollars for Bastrop through the Main Street Program, the Bastrop Convention & Exhibit Center, a coordinated approach to the Arts, and accountability for hotel occupancy tax expenditures.”

Bastrop Main Street (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

O’Brien is enthusiastic about the multiple projects underway with the Multi-Media Department. “While downtown is an important part of the City’s story, the Multi-Media Department has a much larger job to do. We will be launching a monthly television program in February. Catch a sneak peek of our new Work Plan video and our increased social media efforts on the City of Bastrop’s Facebook pages,” she said.

Maintaining Partnerships – The team that makes up the Hospitality and Downtown Department is staying plenty busy. “There are no normal weeks around here,” O’Brien said. “From board reports, merchant visits, site visits, press release writing, board meetings and board development, special event planning, ad placement, social media management, to team pow wows about new policies, we do it all.” They are also strengthening a close partnership with Visit Bastrop, the Chamber of Commerce and the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation. “Sharing office space with Visit Bastrop is crucial now while they continue to develop our brand. The upcoming Bastrop Music Festival is a great example of us working with Visit Bastrop to secure that event,” O’Brien said. She added the Hospitality Department recently worked with the Chamber and EDC on developing an annual schedule of small business training for 2018, including several joint opportunities.

O’Brien emphasized that the mission of preserving while revitalizing downtown Bastrop’s historic flavor will remain a key focus. “Main Street America, our coordinating program, provides our continued focus of downtown revitalization through historic preservation. Stay tuned as we work hand in hand with our planning partners at City Hall and our boards and commissions to revise our local preservation ordinance to ensure Bastrop retains its unique character for generations to come!”