Welcome to the Welcome Center

By Joseph Pratt - For the Daily Times


As I write this, Jason Kester, executive director of Southern Ohio Port Authority, is asking Executive Director of the Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce Lisa Carver a question. He is in his office and Lisa is in her own. I can also hear Kim Bauer, executive director of the Portsmouth-Scioto County Visitors Bureau, in her own office down the hallway, talking on the phone about the upcoming TOSRV. Meanwhile, I work on Main Street, as Donna Arnett and Marta Hale are working on business regarding the gift shop outside my door. Currently out of the building, working on one of his many awesome projects, is my buddy Adam Phillips, who is asset manager with the Port Authority.

This is typical business in the Scioto County Welcome Center, where we all share an office space.

As recently told by my dear friend, and replacement at the Portsmouth Daily Times, Ciara Conley, I have a big mouth. I am a conversationalist and I love to engage with people. When I left my open office at the Daily Times, with six friends within speaking distance, to take over Main Street Portsmouth, I was worried I’d become bored with office work, knowing I’d be alone. I figured office hours would be the downside to being downtown and working with the many merchants, artists, and residents that I love. I was definitely wrong.

I was thrilled to visit the office space at the Welcome Center for the first time in December, to see I was so close to such great offices— the Chamber, the Port Authority, and the Visitors Bureau. I was a bit overwhelmed the first week, working with people I’ve written about and read about in the Daily Times— people I’d admired for years— but I quickly fell in place and felt at home. I love working with these wonderful people, who are all interested in furthering and bettering a home that I hold dear to my heart.

When I started working in the office, my predecessor had already moved on to her new job and I was left to learn everything from board members. It left me to establish a firm belief that I have the best board a director could ask for, composed of hardworking and influential people who are always available to give support…but that topic is would take an entirely separate column. I still needed a lot of help adjusting, though.

This is where my friends in the Welcome Center really came to the rescue. Lisa is constantly there to give me advice or to help with certain software and office tech. Jason and Adam are great to get a second opinion from, or to bounce ideas off of, because they are a wealth of knowledge from their expansive training. Kim is always there to give advice based on past experiences, as well as being able to give me a good laugh when I’m having one of those rough days. Donna is constantly working and volunteering her time to do good, making me want to do more and be a better person. I’ve been lucky to have them.

I’ve also been lucky to have Community Action, which rents us our space and takes such great care of the property, because being so close together is a great resource. We are able to work together and help each other succeed. Alone, I believe we are great organizations, but, together, I believe we are a trust for the Portsmouth area.

In four months time, I’ve worked with my peers on various projects and have discussed future opportunities. We’ve produced a music video, we’ve gone onto the field of a Cincinnati Reds game to promote our home, and, most notably, we’ve helped Jason and Adam in their tireless efforts to make the America’s Best Communities opportunity a success.

Pretty soon, I will join Jason and two others on a trip to North Carolina, where we will support Jason in his efforts to bring home $100,000 to start a major project in downtown Portsmouth.

I am confident that we’ve got what it takes to make it to the next level, and I am even more confident in our ability to make it to the top place prize of $3 million, which would completely rehabilitate the riverfront.

Regardless of the outcome, we’ve got a plan in place and the people to make a bright future possible.

I loved my town before taking this position, but working with my friends in the Welcome Center has only made me even more proud to call its residents my family.


By Joseph Pratt

For the Daily Times

Joseph Pratt is the Executive Director of Main Street Portsmouth. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 740-464-0203.

Joseph Pratt is the Executive Director of Main Street Portsmouth. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 740-464-0203.

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