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Tourism Alliance Reconsiders Structure, Chamber Contract

The Marinette County Tourism Alliance Committee (MCTAC) spent the majority of their Thursday, Oct. 11 meeting discussing changes to their management structure and the aspects of their contract with the Marinette-Menominee Chamber of Commerce.

For about the last year, the MCTAC has been having great difficulty generating a quorum for their full committee meetings as well as quorums for their individual sub-committee meetings. The situation has hindered decision making and slowed the work of the Committee and led to much consideration of a smaller committee and incorporating the subcommittee work into the work of a committee-of-the-whole. At present, the MCTAC has subcommittees entrusted with Research, Marketing, Finance, and Executive.

Part of the problem is that many of the committee members are also small business owners who, despite their interest in Tourism, often don’t have too much extra time to spend away from running their businesses.

No decisions on structure were made at this meeting, but the topic was considered as the group began working on filling their 2013 open committee seats.

A bigger issue before this meeting of the MCTAC was the future relationship of the group with the M-M Chamber. The contract with the Chamber runs out soon and the Committee held a round-table discussion to deal with the issues at hand.

For the past several years, MCTAC has contracted with the Chamber to handle much of the administration and office work of the group, including office help, office space, and various other aspects of operation. In exchange, the MCTAC paid the Chamber a set amount for compensation. This freed up the Tourism Director to spend a great deal of time on the yearly Marinette County Tourism Guide.

While the contract is enforce through 2013, it appears that the Chamber may be losing money on the contract. Several on the MCTAC wondered aloud if the new Chamber Director and the new Chamber Board would be inclined toward ending the contract early. If that were to happen, plans would have to be made to continue the MCTAC.

Suggestions from various members including the idea of trying to be self-supporting through paid memberships, working with a public relations firm especially with production of the Tourism Guide, asking another Chamber to take them under their wing, asking to return under the auspices of the Marinette County Association of Business and Industry (MCABI), or even asking the County to take over entirely and run the Alliance with more County Supervisors and a couple of community members on the Committee.

During the discussion of these options, County Supervisor Nick Lakari read a letter from outgoing M-M Chamber Director Mary Johns. Lakari had also requested input from County Administrator Ellen Sorensen, but had not yet received a reply.

Ultimately, no decisions were made, but the matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings.

Jim Brien reported that the Marketing Committee had approved the budget and the 2013 marketing plan. Plans are to defer to 2013 the Business E-newsletter. The committee is working on having a tourism booth at other local fairs to promote Marinette County.

Later in the meeting, the full committee discussed possible places to try, including Brown County, the UP State Fair and the Wisconsin State Fair. It was determined that Brown County has too many regulations, requirements and costs to make displaying there feasible. A discussion was also held on acquiring new tabletop literature racks and better quality photos to display.

The Finance Committee reviewed and explained the current year budget status. Treasurer Rene Kresl stated that all expense categories are pretty well on target.

The Research Committee and the Executive Committee had nothing to report.

Tourism Director Jamie Darge updated the Committee on the financial aspects of the Tourism Guide. She noted that advertising money for the new guide is still coming in. The current guide is still very popular, with requests coming in “like crazy.” Most of these requests need to be mailed, so Darge added that postage costs have been driven up considerably. As for the final pictures on the current guide and new guide, she will have a better picture at next month’s meeting.

Darge also noted that she did make a PowerPoint presentation to the Marinette County Board at their recent meeting. She stated that she felt they reacted well to it.

Maggie Kailhofer updated the committee on the progress of Gov. Thompson State Park. She noted a good summer and great fall, with great colors, too. The new camp ground road is now paved and the grass is coming in well. She is still working on the dump station platform and concrete work.

Kailhofer also reported on the great initial meeting held about the Menominee River State Recreation Area by Niagara. The area actually straddles the river and is in both Wisconsin and Michigan. The response from the public has thus far been very positive and enthusiastic.

Darge reported that the new shower building at Morgan Park has been completed and would be dedicated the day after the meeting. The final numbers on Marinette County summer park usage would be available for the next meeting.




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