URBANA — Officials tonight (Monday, Dec. 12) will explore making tourism promotion an internal city function rather than contracting out to the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau after months of debate between the two agencies.
Council members are scheduled to meet as the committee of the whole tonight at 7 in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.
Mayor Laurel Prussing over the summer vetoed $71,800 worth of city funds that would have gone to the tourism bureau to handle promotion of the city of Urbana and other Champaign County destinations and events.
While discussing the veto in October, Alderman Eric Jakobsson, D-Ward 2, said tourism promotion is an "essential" function of government. But he suggested the city — not the bureau — could do the work on its own.
Tonight, city officials are scheduled to present to the council a scenario under which the city would make two staffing changes to make possible the internal handling of the promotion duties. The city's public arts coordinator, currently a part-time job, would become a full-time position. The city would also need to create a new part-time position, a community marketing associate.
Altogether, the changes would cost the city an extra $37,320 annually.
City officials would also ask the Urbana Business Association to take on some extra tourism and marketing-related activities.
In a memo to the council, city officials suggest the internal program "would have a more specific geographic focus" than the Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Putting tourism and marketing in the hands of city employees would make the duties "more responsive and accountable to Urbana's citizens, businesses, mayor and city council."
In October, Jayne DeLuce, the CVB's president and CEO, called the suggestion a "duplication of efforts."