MASSENA - Area economic development officials hope to be able to build on the state honors for FISHCAP, a private-public partnership promoting St. Lawrence County as the fishing capital of the world.
The countys FISHCAP initiative received the 2013 Excellence in Tourism Award for Tourism Marketing award for entities with budgets under $500,000 at the recent New York State Tourism and Visitors Association annual conferencein Niagara Falls.
Alison M. Power, tourism, marketing and outreach coordinator for the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, hopes the award will help build the reputation of the ongoing program, now in its third year.
I think anyone involved is appreciative of this recognition from the state, Ms. Power said. The award proves (FISHCAP) is going in the right direction, and I think that will help the program going into the next year.
FISHCAP was established in 2010 by Patricia L. McKeown, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce; Massena Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray; and Project Manager Donald R. Meissner, a noted angler and WPBS program host.
The project is the first ever public/private partnership, created to promote sport fishing as an economic driver for communities in the St. Lawrence River Valley. The initiative was developed through volunteers and is run by the countys chamber of commerce, with oversight from a board of professional and amateur fishermen.
Mr. Gray said the recognition from an outside agency is affirmation that FISHCAP is a program with good potential to increase tourism and spending in the area.
Heres a completely separate agency saying this is a solid effort (to promote tourism in the region). Its good to have validation from someone outside the area for the work were doing, Mr. Gray said.
Beginning this August, FISHCAP will begin to shift its focus from increasing awareness and developing local business to a regional approach, including the development of the FISHCAP name, mission and logo, and marketing the tourism focus into neighboring counties and Canada, according to a chamber of commerce press release.
Mr. Gray hopes the recognition will boost FISHCAP into this new focus and help establish St. Lawrence County as a prime destination for fishing.
I think it opens a lot of doors for the next phase of FISHCAP, he said.
Ms. Power said the diversity of the region, including lakes, mountain streams, small tributaries and the much larger St. Lawrence River, makes it ideal for those who are committed to fishing and would like a variety of fishing options within a relatively small area.
We have a lot of variety, not a whole hell of a lot of people and a beautiful landscape, Ms. Power said.
Mr. Gray believes the FISHCAP initiative has been so successful other communities should adopt it to promote the best assets they offer.
In promoting any assets of a given area in the state, (a community should) take the model of which FISHCAP was built to promote one idea, one thing, Mr. Gray said. Nothing can compete with the St. Lawrence Valley for fishing, but maybe other areas can promote the assets that they do have.