Switzerland County Tourism has a new Executive Director.
Jon Charles Smith began his duties as the director this past Monday, and is already busy working towards establishing programming to bring visitors to the community.
He also comes to the position with an extensive background.
“I have an architecture degree from Ball State with a Historic Preservation specialty,” he said. “I was director of the Indiana State Preservation Office, and then was the associate director for cultural resources for the United States Department of Interior for 16 years.”
Smith is a native of Indianapolis, and just moved back to Indiana, purchasing a historic home here in Vevay about a year ago.
“I moved back (from Washington, D.C.) because I just wanted a change,” Smith said. “I was over 14 national programs and it was time for me to make a change. I loved the job that I had with the state preservation office, which is through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. I was very familiar with every corner of the state because of all of the projects: archaeology, historic preservation. So this wonderful property became available and I was ready to make a change.”
Smith has purchased the Frederick Grisard mansion here in Vevay — and Smith is already well up to date with Grisard’s background and impact on the community.
“If you know where the Art Center is, that was his business block. That’s where he ran all of his corporate dealings and stuff. He mostly made cast iron and had a lot of flatboats. He was a very interesting person,” Smith said.
So did the house lure him to the job — or did the job bring him to the house?
“The house technically came first,” he said. “I had served on a White House commission for Heritage and Cultural Tourism, and there’s just so much potential here. I’ve been very involved with Main Street and with Tourism. Those are in my background, and I really enjoy what they can accomplish.”
Having been here and involved in Tourism and Main Street programming since last August, Monday was his first official day on the job — and he sees a lot of potential here.
“I think we need to capitalize on our location, between Louisville and Cincinnati — and all of the unique things that we have here. We have a unique story here in Switzerland County, a very unique story,” he said. “And I think that the more people know about that, the visitor-ship will increase tremendously. We have some fantastic opportunities for events.”