An interview with Stephanie Lynch

Monday, April 19, 2010
Stephanie Lynch and her son, Jack, enjoy some time by the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

About Stephanie Lynch

Age: 34

Originally from: Cape Girardeau

Family: Her parents are both retired teachers from Central High School in Cape. Gary Lynch (father) lives in Cape. Sheilah Lynch (mother) lives in Orlando, Fla.

Education: Bachelor's degree in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University in 1997

Employed as: Director of public relations and marketing for the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau

She's worked for a record label, a production company and a film studio. She's lived in cities across the U.S. and in South America over the last decade. But when the opportunity to come home to Cape Girardeau surfaced, Stephanie Lynch didn't hesitate. Business Today interviewed Lynch, who joined Cape Girardeau's Convention and Visitors Bureau as the director public relations and marketing in 2009, about her passion for travel, about being a mom and about how those two things combined to make her better at her job.

BT: What led you to your job with the CVB?

LYNCH: I've been with the CVB since November 2009, after having moved from Tucson, Ariz. Since I'm a single mom of a toddler and originally from Cape, it was a no-brainer that I would make the move to be closer to family. My dad is one of my best friends, and he and my son share this really amazing relationship. I guess you could say that my dad loves spending time with Jack -- and he puts up with me because I change the diapers! In my previous life before motherhood, I worked primarily in marketing for entertainment companies; a record label, production company, film studio, that sort of thing. But, one of my absolute passions is travel. I've had the opportunity to move around a lot and have lived in 10 different cities across the U.S. and Brazil in the last decade. I was really excited about working with the CVB because although I've worked in marketing, I'd never had the chance to fuse my passion for travel with my job experience. I think I offer a fresh perspective to our team at the CVB as well as hands-on experience with working with media from the creative as well as business perspective.

BT: What is it about tourism/travel that excites you the most?

LYNCH: Ultimately, travel teaches you about the world and your place in it. There's so much to explore and so many people to meet. When I lived in South America it was actually an emotionally painful experience. I didn't realize that I had a comfort zone -- and was then thrust about as far outside of that comfort zone as humanly possible. When I moved back to California, I realized that my comfort zone had really shifted and that I was a new person. It took me some time to get used to that new person, and it also taught me that the people that you meet leave an indelible impression on you. You carry those impressions with you wherever you go. They become a part of you. They change you. Now that I'm back in Cape, I can see that I never lost the part of me that was shaped by Southeast Missouri. It's just that now that part of me is melded and shaped by all of the other parts!

BT: Do you think being a mom helps you in your professional life?

LYNCH: Prior to becoming a mother I had so little confidence in myself, I just didn't realize it. Recently it dawned on me that I have really grown as a person because of my son. You have to set boundaries and figure out what you stand for because your children need that. It's not about what you want, it's about what is going to make your child into the kind of person you believe they can be. Every parent goes through self-doubt when it comes to raising their child, but there comes a time when you face the reality that you really are the best person to raise that child. That child was not given to you--YOU were given to him/her. At the end of the day, when I'm exhausted and stressed I take that thought to bed with me, and when I wake up in the morning I feel stronger about the decisions I make for Jack. That kind of confidence has translated into more decisive decision making within all facets of my life.

BT: How big is tourism to the city of Cape Girardeau? Aside from retail and medical, what makes it a destination?

LYNCH: Tourism is a key industry in Cape. To give you an idea, Missouri travelers will spend an estimated $7.9 billion in fiscal year 2009 and an estimated $141,115,322 in Cape Girardeau County. Closer scrutiny of the economic impact will reveal 4,479 tourism-related jobs in Cape County. That's money in our citizens' pockets and food on their tables. The people from the bedroom communities like Chaffee, Fruitland, Oak Ridge and Zalma all come to Cape for shopping and entertainment. Taxes derived from those expenditures translate into projects that benefit the community. The Show Me Center, River Campus and Osage Community Centre are just a few examples. Of course tourists receive benefits from coming to Cape, too. Tourists can shop at both large-box stores or boutiques, dine at chain or locally-owned restaurants, and have access to outdoor recreation activities, historical attractions or family-themed events and activities. Plus, if you reside in the tristate region and are looking for a stress-free getaway, Cape has everything you could ask for. We've got scenic beauty and charm from Trail of Tears to the riverfront with little to no traffic, access to just about anything you need to buy, and affordable hotels and restaurants. Speaking as someone who recently moved here from an urban setting, Cape offers great living as well as a friendly face to give you directions if you get lost!

BT: We're getting ready to enter the more travel/tourism-friendly months; what does Cape Girardeau have to offer this year? What's at the top of your list for places/events to promote this year?

LYNCH: There are some really exciting family themed attractions that have either recently opened or will be opening this summer. Jones Heritage Farms is a natural farm that offers tours and a selection of natural meats and products. The farm plans to have wine tastings, a farmer's market and other events. Lazy L Safari (the owner and operator of Parakeet Jungle) will offer a walk-through safari park experience with 20-plus species of animals. Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center opens Memorial Day weekend and will provide 3.5 acres of water-play fun. Discovery Playhouse: A Children's Museum will offer sweet relief from the summer heat with various hands-on activities for children to explore. Finally, don't forget the newly renovated Cape Girardeau Public Library. The library offers not only access to books, CDs, movies and other materials, but it also offers a ton of scheduled events, private rooms for study or group meetings, a fabulous children's play area, and a coffee shop where you can bring your own snacks or picnic lunch!

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