“Branson was where we drove through to get to Rockaway Beach,” was how Mark Welytok, who was born and raised in Arkansas and is now an architect in Branson, explained the transformation that he has seen in Branson in the past decades. I was in Branson to study some of the theaters in hopes of helping a local entrepreneur do a similar project in my hometown.
Branson has always intrigued me with how it has so proactively gone about taking on new projects, taking the community to heights that a community ten or twenty times its size of 6,050 would drool over. Their new $420 million convention center and shopping area located between Lake Taneycomo and the downtown area is one such project, which will be inaugurated in 2006. The town set a record of $121 million in new construction during 2005 or $20,000/capita!
Branson is involved regionally in economic development. They are building a new regional airport south of town that could have a similar impact to what I saw occur with Bentonville’s regional airport. The Chamber is in the process of starting a political action committee (PAC) to assist them in future political fights. During 2005 the Chamber lobbied against a proposed casino in neighboring Rockaway Beach, in support of state funding for tourism and changes in vacation club regulations.
Branson is a phenomena that isn’t resting on its laurels. I’ll continue to study it and report to you on what I find out.