Warsaw Reaps Reward For Innovative Tourism Growth

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
The City of Warsaw received the Innovator Award at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism held in Columbia, October 8-10. The Innovator Award pays tribute to those smaller tourism entities or destinations that achieve great results with small budgets. It was one of eight awards given out at the conference.
Warsaw Mayor Eddie Simmons stated, “receiving the Innovator Award on behalf of the City of Warsaw at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism was the result of many years of planning and hard work. I am very proud and thankful of those who have been dedicated to investing in our community over the years as we strive to promote and protect the natural beauty of Warsaw and Benton County.  It is my hope that the increased tourism will invigorate not only Warsaw, but the whole Truman Lake area. It is an incredible honor and pleasure to serve as the Mayor of Warsaw”.
Lynette Stokes, Executive Director of the Benton County Tourism and Recreation (BCTR), nominated the City of Warsaw for the Innovator Award, through a partnership with the Missouri Division of Tourism. She made the announcement during the September 5 meeting of the Warsaw City Council meeting. 
“I wanted to nominate the City of Warsaw for this award because you all deserve recognition for your efforts to bring tourism here,” said Stokes at the City Council meeting.
In a release from BCTR, Stokes reported that the City of Warsaw has received multiple awards and recognitions in the past for their efforts, such as the Downtown Redevelopment Award, the Missouri Public Utility Alliance System Achievement Award, and it was named one of the 12 Best Complete Streets Policies in the U.S. in 2018 for its trail efforts and plans to connect the trails into the community by improved roadways. It was also one of 10 communities to receive the National Trail Award from the Coalition for Recreational Trails in 2018.
“It takes a visionary who is able to implement planning through grant-writing and minimal funding to make progress for the betterment of the community and for tourists visiting our community,” said Stokes. “And, Randy Pogue and the City have made that happen and continue to do so by being innovators and finding ways to achieve great results.”
Warsaw City Manager, Randy Pogue stated “We were thrilled to accept this award for the community. We have to give credit to the community for their support and special recognition to the city crews that constructed much of their trail system. By training the crews to perform the necessary construction tasks, it allowed us to use their labor as match for the grants. This allowed us to commit 100 percent of the grant funds to the construction materials. Also, our partnership with the Corps of Engineers has been priceless.  They have provided strong support toward our efforts on the land we lease from them for recreation.”
Warsaw Chamber of Commerce Director Mac Vorce said, “This is very good for our community to receive an award like the Innovator Award. The commitment the City of Warsaw has implemented is really paying off. We are seeing more tourism directly related to our trail systems daily. It is increasing foot traffic in our downtown area and bringing people back for more trips and stays.”
Funded by the Missouri Economic Development Administration, the City of Warsaw has implemented four major comprehensive plans and the Warsaw Tourism Strategy.   A complete list can be found on its’ website at www.welcometowarsaw.com.  Click on City and then on the top of the next page go to Parks and Recreation.
Benton County Tourism & Recreation is a non-profit organization which promotes tourism in Benton County, MO.   To learn more about Benton County, visit www.visitbentoncomo.com or call us at 660-438-2090.