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Columbia County Tourist Development Council: A New Logo - What Were They Thinking?

Image of the TDC logo, with copy: Columbia County's Tourist Development Council. The New Logo: They forgot about the county. Lake City, it has no rivers or springs
Columbia County Observer graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Yesterday at high noon, and about $150,000 later, Columbia County Tourist Development Council (TDC) Director Paula Vann revealed the TDC’s new logo and marketing scheme. Columbia County disappeared from the TDC brand. The new scheme highlights Lake City with a canoe as Florida’s Springlands. There are no springs in Lake City or rivers. There are a few lakes.


Paradise Marketing-Advertising presents to the TDC
On Feb. 17, 2021, Paradise explained that "Driving Growth" is what they do. After a year and a half, with the help of the TDC, Paradise prepared a marketing program which left out most of Columbia County.

On February 17, 2021, Paradise Marketing and two other advertising houses came to the Holiday Inn in Lake City and made presentations to the TDC.

Paradise did not get the nod, but got the TDC marketing contract a few months later.

On April 4, 2022, Ms. Vann sent invitations for the TDC "Tourism Celebration Luncheon" on May 10.

There was no separate media list. The only media invited to the luncheon was the Fox News or Pravda of Columbia County, its mainstream print media, whose admitted job is to be a cheerleader for Columbia County.

The report was all daffodils and roses.

TDC Director Vann: Her Presentation

Right out of the gate, Ms. Vann announced, "Destinations that are successful do not market as a county.”

Columbia County Facts:

The world-famous Santa Fe River is not in Lake City.

The Suwannee River runs for miles in Columbia County and is another world-famous river tourist attraction. It is not in LC.

Ichetucknee Springs and Ichetucknee Springs State Park bring people from all over the world to Columbia County – Not in LC.

O'Leno State Park brings people from all over Florida to camp and enjoy the Santa Fe River. It is in Columbia County – Not in LC.

A boat ramp into the Santa Fe River is in the South End of Columbia County – Not LC.

Finally, one of the few waterfalls in Florida, Falling Creek Falls, a joint SRWMD – Columbia County gem, is located in Columbia County – Not LC.

That is not true. Franklin County TDC markets the County directing folks to various communities and points of interest.

Ms. Vann said that COVID gave the TDC time to evaluate where they were going.

It is not clear why the TDC, under the direction of Ms. Vann since 2014, did not know where it was going.

Ms. Vann said, “We needed marketing professionals to create a brand and art to go along with what our name would be.”

The May 10 luncheon provided some of Ms. Vann's presentation slides.

To ensure that no one would view the presentation before yesterday's meeting, Ms. Vann uploaded her presentation to the internet two minutes before the meeting began.

Ms. Vann explained, “Some people from Paradise came and visited; experienced the destinations; and then created a creative brief." According to Ms. Vann, that began "our creative process."

Ms. Vann said there was a survey. She did not say who was chosen to be surveyed, how they were chosen, and she did not provide any of the surveys.

“From this,” Ms. Vann said, the consultant came back, "with our branding voice."

The Logo

New TDC LogoAccording to Ms. Vann, "Lake City Florida's springlands" was the most popular logo.

She did not show any of the other logos.

There is no such word as "springlands" unless one leaves America.

Ms. Vann said the TDC is launching a new website in July and will be doing a photoshoot in the summer, adding that the logo and marketing plan will also be used to market the 500 acres the TDC purchased.

The 500 acres that Ms. Vann referenced was controversial when it was purchased.

The County has no money to develop the property, and it is not in Lake City.

Commissioner Rocky Ford, the Chairman of the TDC, asked, "Will businesses be able to use this logo on their advertisements and stuff like that if they are in Columbia County or Lake City?”

Ms. Vann answered, “I think we can work something out.”

Barbara Karasek, the CEO-Co owner of Paradise, was in attendance.

After spending one-hundred-and-fifty grand, it is not clear who owns the rights to the logo.

Ms. Vann asked Ms. Karasek, “Do you mind answering that?”

Ms. Karasek’s audio was a little sketchy. She was difficult to understand. She spoke about partners.

images of TDC urls.
Lake City FL dot com says nothing about Columbia County, where most of the tourist attractions are located.

As there are no springs or rivers in Lake City, Ms. Karasek did not explain how folks outside of Lake City would be able to incorporate the Lake City logo into their marketing plans, or why they would want to.

Ms. Karasek said, “The brand was built with the feedback of the visitors and your frontline workers in the tourism business this year. To spread this out far and wide is part of our launch plans.”

Ms. Vann said they (TDC) has bought several URLs.

The new TDC website will be LakeCityFl.com.

Lake City has a similar URL: Lcfla.com.

Commissioner Ford asked Ms. Vann to “go over the reasons you switched from Columbia County to Lake City.”

Ms. Vann said, “We know that is going to be hard for a lot of people because we are Columbia County… We are still Columbia County Tourist Development. This is what people identify our area as from a visitor standpoint.”

Ms. Vann continued, saying that the DOT signs say “Lake City. They do not say Columbia County. That is what people identify I-10 and I-75. …  When we put it out – do you call this place Columbia County, or do you call it Lake City? Overwhelmingly people said, ‘That’s Lake City.’” (Ms. Vann’s comments are abridged)

Ms. Vann added, "Fort White is where most of our springs are. We are going to send them to those places as well."

Ms. Karasek said it took "twelve to eighteen months" to develop the logo and URL, "LakeCityFl.com."

Ms. Karasek did not say if she had ever left Lake City.

Brenna Dacks from Visit Florida said, "We don't think in counties. We think in cities and destinations."

There was a time when Governor Scott wanted to shut Visit Florida down. Now Visit Florida has become an entrenched patronage mill that hands out money.

Fort White, which is not in Lake City, is the home of some of the most famous springs in Florida and the home of the County's Rum Island Park, which recently underwent a state-sponsored $250,000 plus renovation.

Rum 138 logoFort White is also the home of Rum 138, one of Florida's most famous spring and river destinations.

Rum 138 and Rum Island Park are in Commissioner Ford’s district, which does not encompass Lake City. He did not speak up.


Columbia County, Florida, Columbia County's infamous good ole' boy county, once again doesn't fail to disappoint.

This meeting was attended via CMT (communications media technology). To find out more about CMT read Florida Attorney General Opinion, here.

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