City committee recommends EDC for visitors bureau
By Jason Stuart
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
The Glendive City Council’s Finance, Utilities, Property and Recreation Committee recommended Tuesday that the Dawson County Economic Development Council administer Glendive’s new Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The DCEDC earned the recommendation by default, as it was the only non-profit organization to submit a proposal for administering the CVB.
At their March 12 meeting committee members elected to give organizations until March 25 to submit proposals outlining why they should be chosen as CVB administrators, with a special FUPR meeting set for March 26 to review the proposals and make a selection.
In the end the Chamber did not submit a proposal. Instead, Chamber board president Chris Undem sent a letter to Mayor Jerry Jimison, the contents of which appeared to at first baffle council members.
“I understand what’s going on here, but I don’t follow the Chamber’s letter,” said Councilman Gerald Reichart.
In the beginning of the letter, Undem stated that the Chamber board had decided not to vie for the right to administer the CVB.
As to why, Undem said in a written statement in response to questions from the Ranger-Review that the Chamber board had “decided unanimously to withdraw from consideration,” primarily due to the “costs associated with public notice advertising of meeting times, agendas, etc.”
CVB boards are subject to Montana’s open meeting laws and public notice requirements.
However, the Chamber’s letter went further than bowing out of the running for the CVB.
In the letter, the Chamber board informed the city they recommended the city council not select any local organization to administer the CVB, and to instead let Glendive’s CVB funding – $20,000 for this fiscal year – revert back to the regional tourism board, Visit Southeast Montana.
That suggestion appeared to surprise some council members.
“That the Chamber’s not wanting us to give local funding to a local group makes no sense in my mind,” said Councilman Kevin Pena. “It just doesn’t compute.”
Kim Trangmoe, who serves as vice president of the Visit Southeast Montana board, told the FUPR Committee at Tuesday’s meeting, “we don’t want the money.”
Trangmoe told the FUPR Committee that if the funding reverted back to the regional tourism group, it would be unlikely to benefit Glendive directly as the regional board is devoted to marketing the region as a whole to tourists, not specific cities.
Asked later about the Chamber’s letter, Jimison said he wasn’t “sure if I would agree” with the Chamber’s assertions that Glendive would be better served by letting the CVB funding revert back to the regional tourism board.
“If we had no one in the community that was capable of administering it for us, we might have looked at that,” he said. “But since we do, I think it’s important to keep it in our community for our own promotion.”
Undem, for his part, rejected any suggestion that the Chamber’s recommendation that no local organization administer the CVB could be perceived as evidence of a rift between the Chamber and the DCEDC.
“At this time, I am unaware of any ‘strained’ relationships within the community and it is in our best interest, as well as our community’s, to support whatever decision is made, and to also provide as much support and guidance as possible to whomever is administering the CVB funds,” Undem said in his statement.
In order for a city or resort area to qualify for its own CVB, 22.5 percent of the total bed tax collected by local hotels in a year must exceed the amount of $35,000. Glendive reached that plateau in 2013.
Reach Jason Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.