Jeff Carver, President of the Port Elgin Business Improvement Association (BIA) and owner of the Wismer House in Port Elgin was awarded the 2015 Charlie Kelly Award yesterday (Dec. 9) at the Bruce-Grey-Simcoe Regional Tourism Conference in Meaford (ON).
The Charlie Kelly award honours the memory of Charlie Kelly, an Owen Sound alderman who championed the idea of winter tourism.
(L) Ross Kenter (Bayshore Broadcasting), Paulette Peirol (Owen Sound Tourism) & Jeff Carver (recipient)
Eligible nominees can be anyone affiliated with a tourism organization or business in the region, in either a professional or volunteer capacity and has been sponsored by Bayshore Broadcasting since 1979.
Carver is a true community champion. He relocated to Port Elgin within the last 10 years and, in that time, has worked tirelessly to turn Port Elgin into a destination. He is an inspiration to all other tourism volunteers who sometimes feel it can’t be done.
Carver owns the Wismer House in Port Elgin and has transformed the historic building into a restaurant / bar into one of the main focal points in the downtown core.
He has successfully illustrated that the hours you keep, the food you serve and the first impressions you make … matter. His dedication and commitment to those principles is influencing others throughout the region.
Five years ago, Carver became the Business Improvement Area (BIA) President and began the process of trying to re-energize a stagnant organization. He also then took on the role of President of the Saugeen Shores Chamber of Commerce and, this year, accepted the role of Chair of the Saugeen Shores Economic Development Advisory Committee.
“We have many incredible people in our community that have a great deal to offer and I hope that we can continue the potential that exists in Saugeen Shores,” says Carver.
Bruce County Warden, Mitch Twolan, expressed his congratulations to Carver. “Jeff is so deserving of this award. He works tirelessly, delivers a terrific product and always has a positive spirit. He has been a terrific ambassador for our region. My sincerest congratulations go out to Jeff ” .
In addition to creating a destination with the Wismer House, in 2010, he began to redevelop a second derelict site in the downtown that had been sitting empty for years. He transformed it into four retail shops and brought beauty and inspiration to a prominent location in the downtown.
He has worked to expand the BIA boundary and increase levies in order to begin the process of reinvestment in the downtown; he has developed a proposal for a Tourist Trolley in Saugeen Shores; and has begun the process of integrating destination development into the efforts of economic development within the community.
The impact of his work both with the restaurant and for the broader community is an inspiration for destination development across the region.