At 5:30 on Monday June 20th we packed our small conference room with members from State and local tourism, the department of education, hospitality, the arts center, downtown events and revitalization, and of course your team here at the chamber. For those of you who are unaware, the chamber works with the department of tourism and economic development. With all the new information and statistics we have been presented, a stronger more cohesive working relationship with tourism is in the best interest of our members and our community. The purpose of this gathering was strategic planning and collaboration to increase revenue from tourism. Sara “lastname” was our first speaker. She congratulated our town on climbing in the tourism rankings in the state of Tennessee. One of the factors in determining this ranking is specific to hospitality tax revenue reported. She elaborated on the wide array of resources and tools available through the state and how we can utilize them. She ended her presentation by highlighting that the discovery of unique local flavor is exactly what travelers are seeking such as locally owned eateries and locally owned shops. So if your grandmother or aunt has a hidden vault of family dishes it may be the time to get fitted for that apron. Have a niche concept for a consumer products that are uniquely local? Could be the time to take a stronger look at the viability of your concept as an actual brick and mortar business.
Warning ( was up late writing this, so will be grammatical errors )
Next up was Mr. Sam Reed of the Ingram Group. We were first introduced to Mr. Reed by Jeff Cuellar of AC Entertainment at the June Luncheon. For those of you who do not know, the Ingram group is our local liaison for Great Stage Park, or the home of Bonnaroo. www.ingramgroup.com. Mr. Reed’s primary goal was to, show commitment by being here, reintroduce himself to this specific group, and confirm the commitment of Great Stage Park to our town over the next 15 years.
Incumbent Alderman and Tourism Chairman Ryan French wrapped up the evening with statistics and updates thus far into 2016 as well as stressed the importance of a united strategic front moving forward. A recent audit in hospitality service industries by Tourism resulted in an additional $100,000 in undeclared hospitality taxes. Alderman French stated, “This single effort by tourism sent a message that we are watching, and the reason we are watching is because hospitality directly affects taxpayers.” The Tourism plan for hosting more Youth athletic tournaments are expected to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into our local economy. The most recent advance in this effort was in the form of applying for a grant to install lights at the new soccer complex allowing us the to ad soccer tournaments to that list.
There are multiple organizations that are each playing crucial roles in strengthening the Manchester and greater Coffee County community and economy. This creates an even stronger need for open dialogue, communication, and a united cohesive effort moving forward. Thus the creation of Team Manchester. Team Manchester is Tourisms answer to informed cohesive effort. Coincidentally this is also a pressing concern we here at the Chamber are currently addressing. We are in the process of building a digital hub where government organizations, private organizations, and members can keep informed, communicate, and collaborate.
Is the chamber on a soap box for tourism? Yes, Tourism is an active partner with the Chamber of Commerce. The proof is in the data. Our efforts for our community and our members is directly linked to many areas Tourism is in control of and we must be involved in those conversations. Isn’t Incumbent French hot on the campaign trail and needing to highlight his efforts? Yes, but Alderman French is merely one member of a larger organization that is responsible for these efforts. Are you thinking, enough about Bonnaroo already, its 4 days a year and wasn’t attendance down this year anyway? Yes, but that one event is completely separate from the multiple smaller events that will not land lock patrons in the farm for the weekend. This will directly benefit our businesses and economy which benefits members.
Industry, education, retail, community, economic stability, and economic growth are all linked. We feel it in our gut, but most importantly the data backs it all up. Having meetings such as these are how we are staying informed and in turn sharing this knowledge with you, our members.