GALION — If you‘ve not heard of Experience Galion until now, you will likely be hearing about them much more frequently in the months ahead.
With the recent development and business growth in and around Galion, officials with the City of Galion have been looking at developing a convention and visitors bureau like many neighboring communities.
Experience Galion has signed on with the city to make that happen.
Experience Galion started two years ago under the volunteer leadership of Galion natives Erik Flick, Melissa Miller, and a few others who were looking to create a universal place for Galion businesses, activities, and events to be coordinated and promoted.
“Years ago, Galion had an ‘Uptown Associates’ group that primarily focused on the businesses and happenings in the area of Galion alone,” said Miller. “We wanted to be sure to keep this community-minded as a whole.”
Once Experience Galion got off the ground, other local groups were quick to take notice and participate. Soon after, a small board of directors was established with members from various aspects of the community.
Since then, the group has continued to work at its goal. And they have done it with no money or office space.
“We’ve never had any money in this,” Flick said. “We have always looked for other volunteers to contribute their time with us.”
“And I’ve walked into many places looking for donations,too,” noted Miller.
Experience Galion has made it a point to remain non-profit, with a volunteer base. They do the majority of their work on social media free of charge, with Miller currently working to keep up with messages or emails as they come in.
That format is exactly what made the city of Galion take notice.
The city receives bed tax money each year, and half of that is ear marked for the purpose of supporting a convention and visitor’s bureau operation. With no group like that in place, the money has accrued for a few years … with nowhere to go.
And while Experience Galion is now moving in a new direction, their focus hasn’t changed.
“We just signed our contract with the city, we just applied for our 501c3 status as an official non-profit also, so our goal is becoming very real,” Flick said. “But even though we will now have money to spend, our plans for operation haven’t changed.”
The Experience Galion team is looking to expand their board and set up a structure as well, but all monies from the city will go back into the community, not towards staff or a storefront.
“Having a staff or office may be necessary later on down the road, but not at all in the immediate future,” Flick commented.
“It’s also important to us that we work cooperatively with other communities around Galion,” said Miller. “Our sense of community doesn’t stop at the city limits.”