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Macomb Signs New Deal with CVB

TSPR's Emily Boyer
The Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is housed in the same building at the Western Illinois Museum

The city of Macomb hopes to get a better track of how money is being spent to promote tourism in the area.

That's because it signed a new 18-month agreement with the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau which outlines expectations that the CVB keep data and report back to the city about how it spends tax payer funds. 

The CVB receives about $185,000 from the city’s hotel/motel tax. The money is used to advertise local events and to bring attractions to the area.

Macomb Alderwoman Gayle Carper said it's not always been clear how the tax dollars are being spent as the CVB has not provided much data to the city over the years.

It was that criticism that was at the heart of the city nearly ending its partnership with the CVB over a year ago. But instead of cutting ties, the city agreed in August 2015 to a one-year contract with the organization. 

That agreement was contingent on the CVB doing a better job of showing how it spends taxpayer dollars. Aldermen did not feel like that condition was met. So when the contract was set to expire at the end of July, the city council would only agree to extend it by three months.

In that time, a working group was created consisting of city and CVB representatives to develop a better blueprint of what kind of tracking data could be kept by the CVB and shared with the city.

Per the new deal, the CVB will now submit a detailed report after each event it helps promote. The report will include how much money was spent on advertising, average event attendance and how full local hotels were the night of the event.

An annual report will also be required, complete with information regarding the number of citywide events and the number of hotel rooms booked, with comparisons to the previous year.

Carper said the agreement also defines exactly what it means to promote tourism. That was added after she reviewed CVB meeting minutes and found the board and executive director were unsure of what they were supposed to be doing. 

She’s said the new agreement is an improvement over previous contracts.

“This will help both sides to improve expectations and performance, carper said. “I’ve been their biggest critic over the last year and I’m hoping that in the next 18 months of this contract that they can prove me wrong.”  

Members from the CVB said they might not be able to provide exact numbers but they will work to get estimates for the city. The organization is purchasing advertising though a media group that has agreed to track data to meet the city expectations.

Macomb Alderman Mike Wayland is the city’s representative on the CVB board. He said the organization estimates its events bring in 35,000 - 45,000 people to the Macomb area annually. He said the city is getting its money worth.

But, Macomb Alderman Tom Koch said that he’s never seen any proof.

“There have been measurements that I have asked for, for two years and never received. We need to get that from them. They need to be responsible to us for the money that we allow them to have,” Koch said.

Aldermen agree the new 18-month contract is a good start. The city and CVB will meet on a quarterly basis per the new agreement.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.