CADILLAC — During the time that Joy VanDrie has been executive director of the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau, she believes the organization has taken big steps forward in attracting people to the region.
At the time she was hired by the visitors bureau in December of 2010, VanDrie said she planned on working more with organizations in the Cadillac area to showcase the assets the region has. She also said the plan was to get people who already are familiar with the area to keep coming back as well as to introduce new people to what the Cadillac area has to offer.
It appears those goals have been achieved: In 2010, VanDrie said there were about 60,000 hotel rooms in the area and the bureau’s budget was about $120,000; today, there are about 120,000 hotel rooms in the area, and the bureau’s budget is about $500,000.
“We’ve doubled the amount of visitors to the area,‘ VanDrie said.
VanDrie also has been instrumental in the creation of the Cadillac Lakes Cruise and Car Show, and notable attractions such as the KISStory tour and monument at the Cadillac High School celebrating the band’s storied visit to Cadillac in 1975.
Also during that time (and for about three years prior to 2010), VanDrie was executive director of the Downtown Cadillac Association, where she was responsible for representing the downtown district to the media, communicating with members, and developing events such as the popular Cadillac Craft Beer Festival and trick-or-treating event the day before Halloween when businesses open their doors to the costumed hordes.
After more than a decade serving both organizations, VanDrie will be stepping down Wednesday, Oct. 21.
VanDrie said while she loves her current job duties, when a position opened that fit more in line with her long-term career goals, she decided to take it.
She will be working for the U.S. Forest Service, where her duties will include coordinating with the various groups and specialists that use the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
“Joy has done an outstanding job as the director of the CAVB over the last 10 years,‘ said visitors bureau board treasurer Pete Meyer. “We were fortunate to have her as she led us through some significant growth during this period. Joy leaves some big shoes to fill, however, the Cadillac area is resilient and we have an incredible amount to offer those that choose to live, work and recreate in the area and that won’t change anytime soon.‘
VanDrie said one of the things she’ll miss most about working for the visitors bureau is attending conferences and meeting with members of other visitor bureaus throughout the state to talk shop.
While she will no longer be a part of the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau or Downtown Cadillac Association, VanDrie said she hopes both organizations will continue the momentum that they’ve been able to generate in recent years.
“We have a lot of cool things here now,‘ VanDrie said. “I hope people will step up and help keep these things going.‘
Since VanDrie’s duties at the visitors bureau and Downtown Cadillac Association overlapped in many respects, she was able to fulfill both roles by herself; moving forward, however, she believes it would be best if two different people were responsible for these duties.
“They both are full-time jobs,‘ VanDrie said. “I think that getting all of the organizations that deal with businesses to work collaboratively will be important moving forward. There’s going to be new leadership at the bureau, and with change comes opportunity ... It has been a wonderful 10 plus years representing this great region and working with all of you. I am confident that the team assembled will take it all to the next level.‘