The first tourism director for Johnson County has the task of creating a new government agency with the mission of getting more people to visit the county.
And once more visitors arrive, the next job is to get them to spend more time in the county, said Kenneth Kosky, the county’s first director of convention, visitor and tourism.
The Johnson County Convention, Visitor and Tourism Board, which is made up of nine members appointed by the Johnson County Commissioners and Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers, began meeting last year to discuss how to spend the money from the new innkeeper’s tax, approved by the county in late 2015. The tax charges an additional 5 percent on local hotel and motel stays in Johnson County and raised more than $500,000 last year.
The board approved a $400,000 budget for 2017, with the main planned expenditures being $75,000 for a director and $250,000 for a marketing firm.
Kosky, who is working as a contractor and not a county employee, will earn a salary of $85,000. He isn’t provided health insurance, mileage reimbursement or other benefits. He signed a contract through the end of 2017 and has started his new job. Board members previously said they wanted a shorter term contract initially to make sure whoever they selected was a good fit for the job and community.
Kosky was previously the public relations and promotions director for Dunes Tourism in Porter County and is a native of northern Indiana.
“I’m fortunate that I come from a successful tourism bureau and can use that as an example,” he said.
The Johnson County position peaked his interest because it offered the chance to start an agency from the ground up, Kosky said.
“One of the strengths of Johnson County is that it is strong in various areas,” he said. “It has an excellent craft brew scene, great golfing, numerous family attractions, great lodging and more.”
Some of his responsibilities for 2017 include creating a list of local tourism assets and businesses, gathering current data about county tourism and selecting a marketing firm, according to the job description. He will also be tasked with managing the marketing efforts, representing the county in its tourism efforts and preparing one- and five-year marketing plans.
Providing people with more reasons to visit Johnson County is key, Kosky said. That means working with community groups to add festivals and events as well as bringing in more attractions for visitors.
As part of familiarizing himself with both the job and the area, he plans to travel across the county and meet with business owners, city leaders and local stakeholders before choosing where he wants to purchase a home.
For the time being, he will work remotely from the Indianapolis area. An office likely won’t be set up this year, Kosky said.