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In the Know column: When is enough, enough?

In my personal life, juggling “more and more” takes a lot of communication, coordination and collaboration.

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Joe Korkowski took this photo while walking around at the Grape Stomp at Carlos Creek Winery.
Contributed photo

By Joe Korkowski

When is enough, enough?

People have been trying to answer this question for centuries, but I find myself struggling with this in both my business and personal life more than ever. I can hear my dad’s words in my head when he told me he’d rather burn out than rust out, so I rarely say no.

I can begin by looking at my cell phone. I currently have 7,503 pictures on it. I don’t want to miss a memory with my family and friends or an opportunity to showcase the community of Alexandria as our tourism ambassador. So, I keep taking pictures. That may sound good, but there is definitely a line you can cross.

Case and point, I took a half-day off last week. My wife and I went to the Grape Stomp Festival on a date. Before you know it, I’m doing a Facebook LIVE post, walking all over the grounds (on my own) showing people what the festival has to offer. When I rejoin my wife I apologize profusely, but still say I need to get a couple pictures of stomping going on. She’s a saint, so she kindly says, “go for it.” Within moments, I’m standing on a bench behind a row of grape stompers getting a myriad of photos and video. Somehow, I didn’t manage to get a single photo of her and I (probably a first).

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I can also look at my calendar as an example of “When is enough?” I’m involved in “a few” things because I don’t want to miss out on anything. There’s the Lunch Buddy program, FAN coaching at AAHS, teaching Faith Formation at my church, being one of the Chamber Ambassadors, and I’m part of this year’s new class for Leadership Alexandria. Add on that I’m on several advisory committees, I play baseball on three different teams, play on golf league with my Dad and dabble in some community theater. Then there’s the Jingle Bells Telethon; something I’ve been a part of since 1995. I would love to tell you more about each of those things, but perhaps another time. Regardless, the theme seems to be more, more, more.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your patience; there is a point. As the executive director of Explore Alexandria, my job is to promote the community of Alexandria to potential tourists and visitors. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage people to come, stay in our lodging properties, and spend some money while they’re here.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve experienced nothing but sales growth throughout the hospitality industry. We see it in the sales at hotels, resorts, B & Bs and VRBOs in the City of Alexandria and LaGrand and Miltona Townships. Comparing numbers to 2020 or 2021 are not as telling as versus pre-pandemic numbers where we’re averaging 27% growth each month.

Understandably, average daily rates at these properties play a part in that. Now we struggle with the balance of how much is enough? We have thriving wedding venues, hockey, baseball, bowling, basketball and fishing tournaments, conventions and reunions, all needing rooms. Complicate it with a workforce shortage and it makes for a real challenge. We’re having discussions about how we continue inviting people to Alexandria and best grow to meet the demand.

Is the answer simply more hotel rooms? Maybe, maybe not. In my personal life, juggling “more and more” takes a lot of communication, coordination and collaboration. Assuredly, the attractiveness of the Alexandria area is not only the lakes and parks, but in the people willing to come together to help make it all work.

Speaking of that collaboration, take a moment to reflect on your life. Are you looking for a way to make a difference in your community? Do you feel you still have something to give at the end of the day? There are untapped resources in our community – could YOU be one of them? I feel I have become a better version of myself by being a part of something bigger. This area needs all of us to pull together and be enough for everyone.

I better run; I need to get to a baseball game.

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Joe Korkowski

Joe Korkowski of Alexandria is the executive director at Explore Alexandria Tourism. "In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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