History of the Clark-Floyd Convention and Tourism Bureau
OVERVIEW OF BUREAU
In 1976, the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention & Tourism Bureau was formed by an Act of the Indiana General Assembly. State Representatives William Cochran and Richard Wathen sponsored the legislation at the request of the Clark County Chamber of Commerce. Each year the Bureau attends trade shows and marketplaces, conducts sales blitzes, prints large quantities of brochures and maps, mails thousands of information packets to potential visitors, answers numerous phone calls, greets visitors to the Sunny Side and flies the Bureau’s hot air balloon in various events in an effort to attract visitors to the Sunny Side. The Bureau has successfully accomplished its mission of economic development through visitor spending. By actively promoting the Sunny Side, groups host their conventions in the Sunny Side, tour buses visit the local area and leisure vacationers make the Sunny Side their destination. The Bureau has continued to be devoted to the development of tourist attractions to enhance the quality of life and the local economy in Southern Indiana. For many years only large communities offfered the services of a convention and visitors bureau however, today the importance of tourism on the local economy is recognized. Tourism is the third largest industry in Indiana. In Clark and Floyd Counties, more than 3,100 people are employed in the tourism industry and more than $150 million are spent on tourism related products and services annually.
What is the newest addition to the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention & Tourism Bureau that also happens to be the most colorful, most noticed and most talked about feature of the Bureau? That’s right – our newest attraction in the Sunny Side is the Southern Indiana Visitor Center which opened to the traveling public October 1997. Our “Blaze of Color” was designed with its bright “Sunny Side Yellow” angled walls and circular, atrium-like base to catch the eye of the passing motorist and create an inquisitiveness about the building. This curiousty calls to visitors to enter the building where they learn about the many activities and attractions that Southern Indiana has to offer. At first glance, you may ask “Why wasn’t the Visitor Center designed to match the Administration Building?” The answer is the architect of the Visitor Center felt the design of the 1930’s Administration Building was very crisp, complete and should not be in competition with an adjacent structure. The design of the Visitor Center contains Indiana limestone walls in a pattern similar to the bridge building, an edge profile reflecting the two pillars at the end of the bridge and an exposed steel structure in the gallery that is a reflection of the bridge framework. The orientation and circulation of the building serve as a symbolic welcome to Southern Indiana. The Visitor Center, funded directly by tourism dollars generated via a local lodging tax, is open 7 days a week. Brochures featuring attractions, activities, and lodging facilities in Clark and Floyd counties are available 24 hours a day. Indiana tourism information and maps are available. Don’t forget to browse through our gift shop for that perfect Indiana gift. Join us for a special Birthday Party for the visitor center on Wednesday, October 21 at 1:00 p.m. We will have birthday cake and prizes for everyone!
HISTORY OF THE LOUISVILLE MUNICIPAL BRIDGE BUILDING
The Louisville Municipal Bridge was built in 1929 by the City of Louisville and was the first span across the Ohio River at Louisville and Jeffersonville that served highway traffic only. From 1929 until 1946, tolls were collected with proceeds used to retire construction revenue bonds. In 1946, the Louisville Municipal Bridge Building as turned over to the Kentucky Department of Transportation, which used it as a branch office for the next 30 years. In 1976, the building was sold at public auction and essentially became a private residence until the City of Jeffersonville acquired it in 1994. One year later, the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau accepted the challenge of renovating the building back to its original splendor of 1929. Exterior and interior renovations weren’t completed until December 1995. As often as possible, the original fixtures were restored instead of being replaced. The Louisville Municipal Bridge Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
HISTORY OF THE MONUMENT
Another important part of the history of the Louisville Municipal Bridge Building is the monument that stands as a tribute to those who built the bridge. Upon completion of the bridge in 1929, the monument was erected at the foot of the bridge. The monument is made of Indiana limestone which matches the building. Years later when Highway 31 was extended to meet the bridge, the monument was moved to a location next to the highway but away from the building. For 41 years, the monument hid in this nearly invisible site behind a small grove of trees. In 1997, the Bureau and the Indiana Department of Transportation rescued the monument by moving it to its current location on the north lawn of the Louisville Municipal Bridge Building. The Indiana Department of Transportation laborers worked diligenlty and took great pride in moving the monument. They crafted a limestone sidewalk from the remnants of the original monument base at the new site.
FINANCING OF THE BUILDINGS
Guests who stay in one of the 2.057 rooms available in the lodging facilities of Clark and Floyd counties pay a 4% lodging tax. This tax fund the Clark-Floyd Counties Convention & Tourism Bureau. The proceeds are used to encourage people to visit our community for conventions, meetings, seminars, group travel and individual getaways. In addition, the tax funded the restoration of the historic Louisville Municipal Bridge Buildig and the construction of the Southern Indiana Visitor Center. These two attractive and interesting buildings serve as a focal point for visitor information. Neither local property owners nor local residents pay for the economic benefits that the convention and tourism bureau provides.