Convention and Visitors Bureau Looks to Advance City With New Augusta & Co.
After a months-long buildout on a facility designed to highlight the best of Augusta’s rich culture, history, local businesses and outdoor activities, the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau cut the ribbon on the new Augusta & Company on Friday afternoon.
The CVB initially moved from Enterprise Mill to Broad Street last year to create an experiential, pedestrian-friendly space accessible and visible to people looking for activities and connection to the local community. The CVB moved into the building at 1010 Broad Street last summer.
Since its completion, Augusta and Co. has allowed locals and tourists to get a taste of what the area has to offer.
“I think we’re looking at how we can keep it fresh,” said Bennish Brown, CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. “How can we challenge ourselves to stay innovative but also make sure we’re telling the Augusta story that we talk internally about—those significant, authentic Augusta experiences. You can do so many different things in a lot of different destinations. How do we make sure we drill down for things that people realize, ‘You know, I can only do this in Augusta?'”
After conducting thorough research on how to successfully represent and market the city to locals and tourists alike, the CVB realized that the Broad Street storefront’s identity as a “visitor center” would not be an advantage going forward, especially when it comes to millennials. Jennifer Bowen, vice president of destination development for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in an interview in January that the prospect of a “visitor center” reminds young people of “their grandmothers’ brochures.”
That prompted the CVB to create a more experiential space with the new building, Bowen said.
“Our local marketplace brings together people who are local artisans,” she said. “They are craftsmen, and we’re able to showcase their product, and then we’re able to tell visitors about how to find them. So we’re able to push business their way, which is great. That drives our economy.”
As visitors stepped into the new space on Friday, they were greeted with a sampling of local products like shortcake from local bake shop Watanut and beer from Savannah River Brewing Company, elements that Bowen said will be a core piece of visitors’ experiences of Augusta and Co. Bowen said they will feature a new “product of the week” each week.
The space also has a rotating selection of local merchandise, including unique local products like honey from the Augusta Honey Company, as well as shirts, caps, art and many more Augusta-themed products.
“Thank goodness for the Masters, thank goodness we have that name recognition, but Augusta is fortunate to have more than that,” Brown said. “And that’s what we have to pull out. So I’m excited at how we’re now getting a palette to paint that here day in and day out.”