Payson: Plenty Of Potential

New town tourism, economic director sees many opportunities

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The sky is the limit, as far as Cameron Davis is concerned.

The town's new Tourism and Economic Vitality director said his first month on the job has revealed to him how much potential there is in Payson for tourism and economic growth.

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"In two words, I can sum it up," he said. "Untapped potential."

Davis began as the director of the newly created department Nov. 1. He was hired after the town council agreed to shift the focus of the Main Street program and instead, established a broader department.

Davis said his background in marketing would help him advertise the town's attributes.

"(There are) a lot of events and activities, the Rim Country itself is beautiful, the masses need to know about that," he said. "(There are) opportunities here not only for tourism but also for businesses that are looking to take advantage of the small-town atmosphere."

"There's nowhere to go but up," he added.

Davis and his staff -- Project Manager Cathy Boone -- are currently working on creating a tourism Web site for the town.

"We are in the process of building a tourism-specific Web site that's going to give (potential tourists) the power to understand the potential here in Payson," he said. "It's going to highlight all the various things there are to do here and showcase them. About 60 percent of people who own a computer actually research where they are going to go on vacation. Online is a powerful tool."

The town has many assets that it can capitalize on in the tourist market, Davis said. His "number one charge" for the time being is organizing the assets.

"We have all these events, we have the natural beauty, all we need to do is collect everything, put it inside that box and put a nice bow around it and put it out there for the world to see," he said. "We have all these great things, but it's not all in one place."

"If it's done right, if we can market to people through various channels, we're going to create an awareness that doesn't exist today about the town of Payson. It will be a win-win situation for all," he added.

In addition and related to tourism, Davis said he will work on boosting the economy in Payson.

"There's definitely a need here for more jobs, more higher-paying jobs," he said. "There's an opportunity we need to take advantage of -- keeping our youth here in the town. We need to create programs that are going to allow us to mentor those young kids and keep their potential here."

Davis said the town of Payson is struggling to establish its identity. The creation of the town's motto -- "A Mountain Town with a Western Heritage" -- is what he was brought in to promote.

"We have an awesome historic Western heritage that needs to be brought out," he said. "The (Western flavor) is becoming a dying breed. We have a true opportunity because of our historic rodeo traditions." "The first thing has to be: who are we," he added. "The next thing is working with the business infrastructure in the town to stabilize our economy."

Davis and his family came to Rim Country from Surprise, Ariz. He said he is happy to return to the small-town lifestyle in which he was raised, in St. Johns.

"It's a lifestyle I wanted to give to my kids," he said.

He said his plans for the town would "not happen overnight" -- but he doesn't mind spending the time and effort it will take.

"I hope I'm here for 15 years or longer," he said. "I'm where I want to be."

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