Tiger Town USA Becoming a National Brand

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COLUMBIA - A new wave of fans made their way to Tiger Town Friday for the first football game in the Southeastern Conference. A new initiative is underway to brand Columbia on a national level as "Tiger Town USA".

Chairman of Atkins Companies, Tom Atkins, started the initiative to not only put Columbia on the map but to help attract more visitors.

"We found out too many people don't know where Columbia, Missouri is. They think it's like Columbia, South Carolina," Atkins said.

The new slogan Tiger Town with USA added to the end seeks to benefit the City of Columbia, the University of Missouri and other local educational institutions along with surrounding businesses.

Atkins is in the process of getting 501(c)3 status. This would allow the non-profit branding group to accept tax deductible donations and keep on-going fees low.

The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau says they have not communicated with Atkins about his initiative but their goal is to market Columbia as a destination for travelers. For the past couple of days, the Visitors Bureau has seen an overflow of Georgia Bulldog fans. Communications manager, Mary McConachie, says she anticipates roughly 30,000 out of town guests for the sold out game.

The Visitors Bureau prepared for the the overflow of guest by surveying every hotel on the availability of rooms. This weekend all hotels are completely occupied.

"Fans have been using the Visitors Center's resources to navigate a football weekend in Tiger Town. People have been taking advantage of that since fans have arrived, so it's just been kicked up a notch from a typical football Friday," McConachie said. 

Atkins says the initiative received positive feedback and hopes it will encourage travelers to come back to Columbia as a getaway destination.