CVB Welcomes New Sports Director
By Megan Alley
The Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau has hired a new Director of Sports.
Joel Barnhill took over the full-time staff position, previously held by Jim Barger, on May 1.
“The crux of the position is to help bring events, specifically sporting events, into the county, keeping in mind we’re trying to bring economic growth to region,” Barnhill explained.
He added, “We’re trying to find events that will impact the county favorably in an economic way, whether guests stay at hotels, eat at restaurants, purchase gasoline, participate in activities or go to attractions.”
Barnhill, a resident of Pierce Township who enjoys hiking and backpacking, has been with the CVB since December 2015, when he was hired as an independent contractor to help coordinate the organization’s rowing events.
“When the position opened up, I talked to Mark Calitri about possibly moving into the spot; it was an easy transition for me, because I’m pretty familiar with the area because I’ve lived here for awhile.”
Barnhill’s experience made him a good fit for the position, according Calitri, president of the CVB.
“Joel had a long career in managing and directing major sporting events,” Calitri said.
He added, “Jim did an excellent job and built a great base of business, and now we want Joel to just expand on that and go further.”
Presently, Barnhill also works as an independent contractor for Cincinnati Marathon, Inc., the nonprofit organization that hosts the Flying Pig Marathon. In his role, which he’s held since 2009, Barnhill helps manage the marathon as well as the organization’s other running events, which are the Christian Moerlein Beer Series and the Queen Bee Half Marathon.
“I just completed my seventh marathon weekend,” Barnhill said.
From 2006 to 2009, Barnhill was the Assistant Commissioner for the Horizon League, a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I conference headquartered in Indianapolis; Barnhill was in charge of the league’s sales and marketing efforts.
From 2002 to 2006, Barnhill was the Assistant Athletic Director for the University of Cincinnati, where he handled marketing and ticket sales.
Barnhill plans to hit the ground running in his new position by familiarizing himself with the various athletic venues in the county, as well as the people who manage them.
“For specific sports, we do have some really great venues,” he said.
He added, “I’m looking forward to getting to know the owners and managers; those are the folks I want to get in a good relationship with so we can talk to them about being included in the process of bringing sporting events to the region, or promoting their existing events.”
Barnhill, a Navy veteran who graduated from Miami University on a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship, said he decided to follow his passion for sports coordination and marketing after a short stint working in a warehouse distribution center.
“After working there for a few years, I know that was not what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.
Barnhill returned to Miami University and earned his master’s degree in sports organization.
“The thing I like about event management is being a part of something that allows other people to achieve goals; I’m facilitating the opportunity for people to experience their own highlights in sports,” Barnhill said.
He added, “Seeing other people achieve and knowing that I facilitated that in some way is very satisfying.”