Proper planning keeps programs, festivals funded

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By Juanice Gray

jgray@natchitochestimes.com

House Bill 1 strikes again.

This time it hit the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission (NHDDC) to the tune of over $41,000. Treasurer David Stamey said the commission was slated for $360,000, which is their max, but due to HB1, that amount was cut to $319,165.

He said the NHDDC anticipated a cutback of up to 15 percent and made adjustments to their budget in preparation. “Good thing we did those cutbacks,” Stamey said. “Because we have not committed to anything we can’t respond to.”

What will be affected is next year’s special projects.

The commission is funded through the hotel/motel tax and although the occupancy rate has remained solid, there has been a price battle that has driven down room rates. Not as much is being collected per room and there was also a loss of approximately 80 rooms with the closing of Motel Louisiane on South Drive and the conversion to Cottage Inn col lege housing on University Parkway.

NHDDC is moving forward with its brand strategy as a cohesive logo and identity for all entities to use to promote Natchitoches. An RFP (request for proposals) allowing proposals to be submitted by the end of August will be published soon.

The new branding should be up and running by the new year. It will include graphics, logos, fonts, photo styles and more intended to reflect who Natchitoches is as a community today. NHDDC member Rebecca Blankenbaker said Natchitoches is viewed as a historic location, a settlement, which is good, but the new branding strategy will bring attention to what the city has to offer today.

Stamey said one huge advantage of the new strategy is a comprehensive community calendar with input from all stakeholders including the city, all entities represented in the NHDDC, festivals, events, businesses and organizations. “It will be a game changer,” he said. “It will encompass everyone’s agendas and provide a unification of information,” said member Van Erikson.

Members provided updates on the numerous upcoming activities and events including the Fall Tour of Homes Oct. 13-15, the car show Sept. 29, hosting the La. Outdoor Writers Association Aug. 12-14; Zydeco Festival Sept. 1-2 and an update on the riverbank project.