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CVB hires former Ohio tourism chief

CVB hires former Ohio tourism chief
CVB hires former Ohio tourism chief
James L. Epperson

The former top tourism strategist and director for the State of Ohio has accepted the position of tourism director for the Harrison County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB).
James L. Epperson, 38, now vice president of marketing for the Providence Warwick Convention and Tourism Bureau, is expected to start here in mid-October. He served as director for Ohio tourism from 1998 until March 2002.
Darrell Voelker, director of the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, which serves as the administrator for the CVB, said about seven highly qualified people applied for the position.
“We felt we had the luxury of picking the very best, and it was him,” Voelker said. “He comes highly recommended. We were very fortunate to have him apply.”
Epperson already has family in the area. He was born in Louisville, just across the Ohio River from his parents’ home at the time in Clarksville. (They now reside in Floyds Knobs, and his wife’s parents live in Middletown, Ky.) Epperson graduated from New Albany High School and earned a business degree in 1988 at Indiana University Southeast.
Epperson is married to the former Sandy Holderman. The move here puts the couple’s two daughters, Cassie, 8, and Alysa, 4, much closer to both sets of grandparents, he said by telephone yesterday.
He added: “The smaller town, closer-knit atmosphere is something we would like the girls to get to know.”
Michael Wiseman, Harrison County’s CVB board president, said Epperson’s enthusiasm and background in tourism made him a natural top choice for the position here.
“His tourism experience, especially in the leisure travel market, seemed greater than the other top candidates,” Wiseman said. “He also has some roots in this area, which weren’t a prerequisite, but it helps him understand the attractions and what tourism has to offer here.
“We’re really excited to have someone with his experience and level of expertise.”
Epperson said he isn’t coming to Harrison County with a preconceived notion on how to promote tourism here; rather, he will meet with business people first to learn as much as possible about the business environment. Then he will begin to put in place a process to allow everyone to shape a vision for the future. “Then we will put the plans in place to actually achieve that vision.”
He added: “You have to have that big picture in place first.”
CVB board member Larry Bennett said Harrison County is fortunate to have attracted Epperson. “I know Jim is very excited about moving into the area, and I know he will help the CVB move forward with its goals and objectives.
“He seems to be a very qualified individual, and he’s coming from a background that definitely will move us in the right direction.”
Besides serving as tourism director for Ohio and in marketing at Providence, R.I., Epperson served as marketing manager for the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism and, prior to that, was marketing manager for the Snow Trails Ski Resort and founding president of the Ohio Ski Industries Association. He also has served on the boards and committees of numerous travel industry associations.
Epperson will fill the position vacated recently by Kristey Nielsen.