Grass Valley to launch new campaign to boost local tourism |

Grass Valley to launch new campaign to boost local tourism

Stillshot of a video created by Grass Valley city staff for "BaseCamp Grass Valley" highlights the many outdoor recreational opportunities that this historical town has to offer.
Courtesy of City of Grass Valley |

Grass Valley officials are gearing up for a revamped plan to boost tourism, one largely based on the outdoor adventure opportunities provided by the community’s backyard in the Sierra foothills.

“Basecamp Grass Valley is a new effort developed through partnerships with talented individuals in Grass Valley,” said City Manager Bob Richardson.

Basecamp Grass Valley, a web-based campaign set to take off in April, promises to be more effective than a previous effort launched nearly five years ago, which cost more than $60,000 in the first year and left behind a website — — that appears to have not been updated for several years.

The project is designed to attract “younger, adventurous” individuals to the foothills area to revitalize an aging population. It is spearheaded by Richardson and a small group made up of staff and interested local citizens, but entities such as Grass Valley Downtown Association, the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Center for the Arts, will also be involved.

“Where we are right now is the very beginning stage,” said Richardson, “just developing the aspect to see whether it’s necessary to launch the campaign.”

The bulk of the campaign is centered on:, a website with a simple interface and links to local businesses and organizations. Staff has also launched a Facebook page under the same name, and posted activities around town and uploaded videos highlighting “adventures in the Gold Country.”

Richardson said less than $10,000 has been spent so far on the new effort; $4,500 of that expense was directed to pay the wage of a local programmer and web designer. It’s estimated that the city would allocate $3,000 from the general fund in 2016 and a similar amount every year thereafter that to continue the effort.

“Small sums will be budgeted each year,” Richardson added. “Each video costs around $40-$50, and we will be working with social media, so those costs would be minimal. As in the past, we will continue to work with our partner agencies to find inexpensive freeways to get our messages out.”


In an effort to formulate its own brand and to boost the regional tourism industry, the Grass Valley City Council launched an aggressive program in 2011. What became known as the “Enliven Your Senses” campaign spawned a tourism advisory group, as well as a series of action plans to develop a comprehensive strategy.

The city recruited a Colorado-based marketing firm, CCS Marketing, owned by Charles Bobo, as the key consultant to the project. The decision to hire an out-of-town consulting company drew criticism from some in the community.

The effort resulted in the creation of:, which showcased attractions in the city with pages dedicated to many venues.

Then City Administrator Dan Holler told The Union that $62,000 had been allocated to the project in 2011. The money came from Redevelopment Agency funding, which could be spent only to improve city neighborhoods identified as redevelopment areas. Business owners were also asked to contribute $15,000 to help support the site and launch the campaign.

Today, that website sits somewhat static in the realm of cyberspace. The latest blog entry on the site dates back to December 2012.

Richardson confirmed the focus of the new campaign will be on the new website, because is not a website that the city controls, he said. The content of Basecamp also falls more in line with the direction of the city wants to go, he added.

“Basecamp is focused on tourism with a very definitive look on the outdoor recreational activities available to us,” Richardson said. “All of the elements of the Basecamp campaign will be developed that way.”


The new site will use short videos to profile local experts who will tell potential visitors where they can go to capture all that Grass Valley has to offer.

“It’s a way for people, hopefully in a very entertaining fashion, to plan a trip quickly,” said Richardson.

Daniel Swartzendruber, chair of the Grass Valley Planning Commission, has been helping put the campaign together.

“The whole idea is to show off the great things that you can do in Grass Valley,” said Swartzendruber, “… and all the places you can go within a few hours of a drive.”

According to Swartzendruber, staff started shooting the first video one year ago. Once posted on the Basecamp Grass Valley Facebook page on July 21, 2015, it drew more than 35,000 views at a Vimeo account.

Richardson said staff hopes to target several demographic groups with the campaign, but the main focus will be younger visitors who love outdoor recreation.

“We are looking for a younger, very adventurous group, those who like the extreme sports that could be found within the region,” said Richardson, adding the campaign also seeks, “Those who want a great historical experience with fine dining, wine, and those who also want to focus on our entertainment.”

Despite being in the development stage, the new campaign has already elicited some positive responses.

Keith Davies, the president of the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, said he can’t wait to learn more about the campaign.

“It’s got a lot of potential,” said Davies. “We are waiting to get the details from the city and we hope to help them move forward.”

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please call 530-477-4236, or email

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