CHAMBER EXECUTIVE BOARD VOTES TO TERMINATE AGREEMENT TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO VISITOR’S BUREAU

The Crookston Chamber Executive Board voted Thursday to unanimously terminate the contract to provide administrative services to the Crookston Visitor’s Bureau (CVB). Chamber Executive Director Terri Heggie said the Chamber gave the required 90-day notification to the City of Crookston of their intent to terminate on Friday. “The Executive Board met to discuss the agreement that we currently have with the City of Crookston, which oversees the CVB, to offer administrative services,” said Heggie. “The decision was made unanimously to terminate that contract.  What that means is we have to give a 90-day notice if any party decides to end that contract.  We gave the notice on May 1, and that goes to Angel Weasner, who shares that with the City Council.”

The relationship between the Chamber and CVB has been at the center of several council meetings over the past few months as an attempt was made to modify the contract between the city and Chamber for those administrative services. Heggie said that the agreement had been in place since 2006. “So, in 2006, the City and the Chamber established the agreement to provide administrative services to oversee the CVB,” said Heggie. “The CVB is charged with promoting tourism and conventions in Crookston, and really to attract visitors to the community. Then, the hotels and our one motel collect a three percent tax that is on the rooms of overnight stays.  That goes to the city, and then the city sends a check monthly to the CVB. That’s a portion of that lodging tax. We turn around to use that not only for staff hours, sharing an office space with the Chamber, but many of the marketing grant dollars that we contribute to events in the community.”

Heggie said that while the hotels have struggled as lodging has fallen over the past few years, the Chamber did enjoy having the CVB part of the Chamber’s activities. “There has been a slow decline not just in Minnesota but throughout the U.S. over the last few years, and our hotels are feeling that for sure,” said Heggie. “And we don’t know how long it will be until we are out of the current situation that we are in with people not traveling as much as they would before. That makes another significant impact on marketing and tourism dollars. The Chamber has enjoyed having the CVB be a part of it, and through the years, we’ve seen a lot of awesome changes as it comes to marketing and events throughout our community. The Chamber will continue to promote our businesses, events. We’ve even taken on coordinating some events. The most recent was the (Crookston) Classic Cruisers, which was held on Thursday night, which was a huge success. But those partnerships will certainly continue. We are always looking for new ways we can partner and support our businesses, chamber members, and community members as well.”

Heggie also said the Chamber’s activities would remain the same despite the split. “The Chamber itself, the services we provide ongoing will not change,” said Heggie. “We will continue to be business-focused, promoting our community, the same services we are doing now. We might enhance them slightly with the marketing of Crookston as a whole. Another thing that we will continue will be managing Fisher’s Landing Welcome Center between Crookston and East Grand Forks.  At this point, we believe that this is a good move for the Chamber and our Chamber members, and we’ll look forward to continuing to serve our community.”

Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner said the notification, as well as alternative options for the city’s lodging tax, will be presented at the next Ways & Means Committee meeting. “This will be presented to the Ways & Means Committee on Monday, May 11, for discussion,” said Weasner. “They can determine if they want to terminate immediately or wait the 90 days. The city will be exploring all the alternatives that are available for the lodging tax moving forward to be presented on May 11.