As President of The Henry Ford, I am often asked to identify the biggest challenge our not-for-profit cultural organization faces today. That challenge is to determine how we can best leverage our considerable assets in order to thrive and grow in a difficult economic environment.
However, in my mind, every challenge is really an opportunity. Here at The Henry Ford, we often rethink the way we do business. We embrace partnerships and collaborations and we enable our staff to be innovative and entrepreneurial.
We also have the goods—“the finest collection ever assembled documenting the American experience,” according to the American Association of Museums—and like most businesses that succeed, we must continue to remind the public, as well as corporate, governmental and philanthropic institutions that what we do here really matters. Not just to The Henry Ford, but to the larger community we serve. And that’s true for our sister cultural institutions as well. So, we’ll continue to use as many communication vehicles as possible, including this blog, to remind consumers, stakeholders and supporters of the importance of arts and culture in their communities and in their lives.
We all know that there are many great things to see and do in Michigan and many wonderful places to discover. People choose to live, work, and raise their families here in large measure because of the exceptional quality of life Michigan offers its residents and its visitors. Its unique inventory of natural, cultural, and heritage resources—that is, its legacies of innovation and entrepreneurialism—helps define and differentiate our state. It gives us an identity all our own, something in which we can take real pride, something that keeps us moving forward.
Those special assets and the important feelings they generate are at the heart of Travel Michigan’s national award-winning “Pure Michigan” tourism promotion ad campaign. I hope that you and your family and friends have seen the TV or heard the radio ads this campaign has generated. They are spectacular. You can check them out at http://www.themedc.org/News-Media/Multimedia/Travel/.
Fortunately, with overwhelming bi-partisan support in the Michigan State Legislature, Governor Granholm’s proposal to make the largest State investment in tourism promotion in the state’s history has now been enacted into law. Over the next two years, Travel Michigan, the State’s tourism promotion arm, will be able to take the Pure Michigan campaign into several new and important regional markets; but, most importantly, this new infusion of funds will enable our state to make its first-ever national cable TV ad buys. That will enable the Pure Michigan message to reach prospective visitors and business investors throughout the country, including those in states where the economy is more vibrant and residents have more discretionary income at their disposal. That’s great news for Michigan’s tourism industry. That’s great news for The Henry Ford, as Michigan’s leading cultural tourism destination. And because the State receives back $2.82 in sales and gas tax revenues for each $1.00 it invests in tourism promotion, that’s great news for Michigan’s economy. So, we remain optimistic and hopeful for the future. Despite the economy, we’ll continue to seek the resources we need to invest in our own cultural product at The Henry Ford. We’ll enhance current exhibits and programs and develop brand new, engaging and compelling ones to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. That’s our value proposition.