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Has The City Realized That Tourism Dollars Don’t Just Appear?

Give the city of Dunkirk credit for realizing that if the city wants vitality, it has to create vitality.

In addition to a Spring Fest in June and a Beach Bash in August, the Dunkirk Local Development Corporation has created a Music on the Pier series that features a free band on the Dunkirk Pier every Thursday during the summer while other special events are sandwiched around the pier series. Festivals and events cost roughly $300,000 to produce in 2018, according to a recent audit, paid for through a mix of sponsorships, operating grants and other fundraising.

Dunkirk also played host to a family friendly Great Lakes Experience, a Juneteenth Festival, fly-in at the Dunkirk airport, a cruise-in and power boat competition on Lake Erie that has a series of accompanying events.

Jamestown could take some pointers from its neighbor to the north. The city still has money in a loan fund created with Downtown Revitalization Initiative money. That money created some wonderful events last year, including the upcoming Super Grand World Games XXX, a karate world championship tournament from Dec. 26-31 at the Jamestown YMCA, but the process was driven entirely by residents and promoters, and that process will likely remain in place this year as the money is spent down. What is the plan for 2021 and beyond? What organization is going to step up and create vitality downtown? Once upon a time, the Downtown Jamestown Development Corp. took on the job of bringing as many people as it could downtown as a way to benefit downtown businesses. Jamestown doesn’t have Lake Erie to aid in its programming, but it does have the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk, access to the Chautauqua Belle through McCrae Point Park, the National Comedy Center and a growing brewery/craft beer hub. That should be enough for an enterprising group to create an events schedule that draws people with money from area resorts and hotels into downtown Jamestown.

City residents have heard that the city’s future has to include tourism dollars. That’s all well and good, but the city and its partner organizations have to do more to attract those tourism dollars. They won’t just appear from thin air.

Dunkirk has realized that. Have we?

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