Goal is for site to become a destination

Holly Willis would like for the Havelock Tourist and Event Center to be a destination.

“Being from New Bern and going to the beach often, this used to be just a drive-by for me in Havelock, and I think for a lot of people it’s kind of a drive-by and I would really like to change that to let people know that this is a middle road,” said Willis, the new sales manager for the facility. “This is a great place to stop.”

Willis replaces Amanda Ohlensehlen, who left after eight years to become the new economic development director for Havelock.

Willis is a native of Chapel Hill and has lived in New Bern for the past 40 years. She was a Delta Airlines flight attendant for eight years flying out of Charlotte and Boston, and a project coordinator for a company building residential buildings.

“I was a project coordinator for 18 years and was very hands on and that particular job helped me be very strategic and very organized in what I do,” said Willis.

Willis said she is very much ahead of the game making plans for projects.

In New Bern, she did a lot of volunteer work with the Trent Woods Christmas Parade, the Neuse River Keeper, Taste of Coastal Carolina and the Craven Cancer Classic Golf Tournament, among other things.

“Things like that that I have involved myself with like that have made a huge difference,” said Willis.

She believes in surrounding herself with good quality people, like the ones working at the tourist center.

“Landing here in my final journey of work, I really feel like the culmination of all of that, being organized, being strategic in my daily schedule and weekly schedule, having the contacts and knowing who to go to, who’s the right person to pair with who – that has helped me and I think will help me here and the event center,” said Willis. “The staff here is incredible, the people that Amanda has put together. The transition has been so easy for me. It’s been very little effort.”

Willis’ job will be to work with the staff, keep up the building and mainly make sure the facility is available for different uses.

“What I would like to see is this hall and this facility used every day for something,” said Willis. “This facility has so much to offer as far as education-wise and for event-wise and space-wise for seminars, for conferences. Now we’re not as big as New Bern as a convention center up there, but we have a nice facility and nice equipment and everything you would need for a business meeting or any kinds of meeting, and that’s exciting.”