A plan to put new “wayfinding” signs throughout Carthage took another step forward when the Carthage City Council voted on May 23 to approve an agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation over the placement and maintenance of the signs.

A plan to put new “wayfinding” signs throughout Carthage took another step forward when the Carthage City Council voted on May 23 to approve an agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation over the placement and maintenance of the signs.
Wendi Douglas, Carthage Convention and Visitor's Bureau Director, has been leading the effort to put new signs marking places of interest in Carthage for the past two years.
She said the contract with MoDOT allows the city to place the first orders for new signs and start placing them on state highways, such as Garrison, Central and Fairview streets.
MoDOT had to approve the design of the signs and their placement before the project could move forward. The city will buy, install and maintain the signs.
The council's vote was unanimous.

Costs
Douglas said the Convention and Visitors Bureau has spent $52,380 in lodging tax revenue for consultants to design the signs, come up with the themes and make sure they meet MoDOT specifications.
“The design phase was paid for by visitors paying to stay in Carthage motels,” Douglas said. “No city money has been spent yet.”
Douglas said the CVB has been saving money from the city's lodging tax for this program, and talking about new signs in Carthage for about 12 years.
City Administrator Tom Short said the city has $50,000 budgeted from the city's general fund to be spent before July 1, the end of the city's current fiscal year, on the first batch of signs.
He said on May 23 the city hopes to approve bids for the first signs before end of this fiscal year.

Square and Circle
The wayfinding signs will divide the city into two districts, the Square District on the north side of town around the Carthage Square, and the Circle District on the south side for locations around the Roundabout at Fairlawn Avenue, Grand Avenue and Airport Drive.  
Douglas said the wayfinding sign program is an advertising program for the city and its attractions.
“It promotes current attractions that are located within Carthage,” Douglas said. “It's actually an advertising program promoting the different things there are to do in Carthage. Wayfinding creates repeat visitation by increasing awareness of the depth of the destination.”
Douglas said people have asked why the city needs signs when nearly everyone has a smart phone with mapping applications they use to find destinations.
“The biggest challenge to Google is keywords,” Douglas told the council on May 23. “If you want to find artCentral, you have to know that Carthage has artCentral before you can look into Google and find it on a map. If you want to find the Civil War Museum, you have to know that Carthage has a Civil War Museum in order to find it on a map. So those signs will point out those locations, but also put them top of mind to not only tourists but also residents when they bring their families to visit.”

Economic development
Douglas told the council the wayfinding program will help tourists and it can be a “gateway to economic development”
“Everyone who decides to move to Carthage has to visit Carthage first,” Douglas said. “Everyone who decides to develop a business in Carthage has to visit Carthage first. When those prospects come to the area and they see that there's a variety of things to do through our signage program, it could actually increase economic development.”
Deborah Harvey, owner of the Boots Court, spoke to the council on May 9 in favor of moving forward with the project. Harvey serves on the CVB Board of Directors and on the committee that has helped develop the signs.
“I believe, as part of the wayfinding signage committee, that this program will provide unified and uniform signage throughout Carthage that will be an asset to the city,” Harvey said. “It will enable visitors to the city as well as newcomers to find their way into Carthage and also find their way around to the various sites.”