Lexington hires public relations firm to increase tourism

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LEXINGTON, NC -- It's no secret that Lexington is known for its barbecue, especially its barbecue festival.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Lexington during the festival weekend, and the city is hoping to expand that popularity to other weekends, too. Last night, the city council approved the hiring of Lou Hammond and Associates, a public relations firm based in New York City.

Assistant City Manager Terra Greene says the city has signed a year-long, $35,000 contract with the firm.

"It's all about building tourism, and also building economic development opportunity for our citizens and our businesses," she said.

The firm will promote Lexington through a variety of national advertising campaigns. Greene said that, no doubt, barbecue will be central to the firm's marketing, but it will also highlight the many other attractions in Lexington.

"We have the winery, we have a long heritage of uptown businesses that are unique...we have a lot to draw from automatically," she said.

Local business owner Jeanne Leonard, who runs The Candy Factory with her sisters, thinks the campaign will be succsessful.

"People have to know you're here before they can come," she said. "And I think a lot of people know we're here from the vicinity, but i think the PR firm is probably going to do a lot of work on the east coast."

Leonard said the barbecue festival is huge for her business.

"On that one day, we do about five times our normal Saturday. It's usually the biggest one day of our year."

She said she would love to see that trend continue into other weekends.

"A kick in business would be great," she said. "That'd be more sales tax which means less taxes that residents would end up having to pay."

Lou Hammond and Associates will begin work for the City of Lexington on November 1.

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