Urbana council backs moving tourism in-house
URBANA — City council members are ready to commit city funds to internalizing the marketing and tourism promotion duties that previously had been handled by the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Acting as the committee of the whole, council members voted unanimously in support of spending an extra $37,320 annually to bolster city staff's marketing efforts. They will need to give final approval at their next meeting.
Alderman Robert Lewis, D-Ward 3, said he thinks it will be a "more positive, more lucrative" effort.
"I think by virtue of the fact that staff, to some degree, is engaged will make it more personal," Lewis said.
Under administrators' plan, the city would make a full-time position out of what is now a part-time public arts coordinator. They would also create a new position, a community marketing associate, as a part-time job. The staffing changes would cost the city an extra $37,320 annually.
That would be the alternative to a deal that has been in place for years with the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau. During the summer, Mayor Laurel Prussing vetoed $71,800 that would have gone to the bureau to handle tourism promotion.
"There's clearly a missing piece, which is to market ourselves and to make sure that we're in the driver's seat marketing ourselves," said Alderman Charlie Smyth, D-Ward 1. "And this finishes off that whole piece."
City administrators had presented the same plan to the council in December, and the representatives said it needed more work. On Monday, economic development manager Tom Carrino said the duties would not be in the hands of only the new staff members, but the entire economic development team, including support from the Urbana Business Association.
"In reality, it's much larger in that it's really about Urbana putting it's best foot forward," he said.
In other business, a scheduled discussion on roundabouts continued late Monday; check http://www.news-gazette.com for updates.