The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 3, 2014

New marketing initiative shines spotlight on Rt. 534

For the Star Beacon

— Sarah Bals has a lot of enthusiasm, a bunch of ideas and a fresh perspective on Ashtabula County.

Bals is the coordinator of Connect 534, a new marketing initiative focused on  the businesses and recreational opportunities along Route 534 in Harpersfield Township, Geneva, Geneva Township and Geneva-on-the-Lake.

“Connect 534 is a way to focus in on one area for marketing and promotion and it’s also a way to broaden the view of that specific area. We are known for wines and covered bridges, but Geneva and Ashtabula County are so much more than that. There are so many things about the area that people just have no idea about.”

Bals is looking to shed some light on the businesses, residential areas, recreational opportunities, festivals, wines, bridges, shopping, dining, and people of the area.

Bals, who serves as an events coordinator with the Ohio Wine Producers Association, is the head of the collaborative effort that brings together Geneva, the Civic Development Corporation, Geneva Township, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio Wine Producers and The Lodge and Conference Center. Each partner contributes dollars toward the marketing, and each will tap Bals’ experience as an events planner.

“There is so much going on in the area, but there are also opportunities to bring in new, different events and ideas,” she said. “I really see this as a way to make a big difference along the corridor and beyond.”

Local administrators and government officials have long studied the possibilities of the Route 534 corridor, which stretches from south of Interstate 90 and to the threshold of Geneva-on-the-Lake. Professional studies of the area have suggested bike paths along the road, improvements to parks and to the curb appeal of businesses along the corridor, and the potential for business development.

The Connect 534 initiative was created by the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, The Geneva-on-the-Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Ohio Wine Producers Association.

Bals began her work on the project in January and has a laundry list of ideas for the promotion of the existing corridor businesses and events.

Bals has also instituted a new coupon promotion. Twelve businesses have bought into the project. Anyone who visits six of the 12 businesses with one of Bals’ coupons in February will be entered into a prize drawing. Participating businesses in February include What’s For Dinner? By LPD, Griffith’s Furniture, Luisa’s Mexican Grill, Scribbler’s Coffee, The Lakehouse Inn and Spa, The Pickled Pepper, Tropicanna Tanning, Horizons Restaurant at The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake, the Ohio Wine Producers, Earth’s Natural Treasures, Snap Fitness and Bouts and Bouquets Flower Shop.

The coupon sheets are available at the participating businesses.

For more information on the coupon contest or to participate in the March or April coupon event, contact Bals at 466-0019 or search Facebook for Connect 534.