Business group boosts conference center |

Business group boosts conference center

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

The North Tahoe Community Conference Center stimulates the local economy in more ways than one, and the North Tahoe Business Association is going to return the favor.

The business group’s board of directors discussed at their meeting last week how they could lend a hand to the debt-stricken facility.

“We all agreed that probably the most effective way the [the North Tahoe Business Association] could really help out is to partner with the [North Tahoe Public Utility District],” said board President Carol Savary. “And help them with business planning, marketing and promotions.”

Despite last year’s financial restructuring, the conference center is consistently operating at a deficit. That shortfall must be paid by the North Tahoe Public Utility District.

According to the North Tahoe Public Utility District’s financial report for this fiscal year up to January, the conference center is facing a loss of more than $105,000 ” more than double the deficit shown at this point last year. The report attributed the difference to a $62,000 drop in wedding revenue.

“Our margin’s pretty thin anyway,” said Chief Financial Officer Larry Marple. “So if we don’t get the bookings, then we take it right on the chin.”

The district’s financial burden from the conference center drove the board of directors to actively seek out assistance and support for the conference center’s operations. They first approached the North Tahoe Business Association last month, and will approach Placer County within the next few weeks, said Director John Bergmann, who sites on the district’s conference center committee.

“We appreciate any help we can get from any sources,” Bergmann said. “And particularly, the expertise [the NTBA’s] staff has to help us to put together some opportunities.”

North Tahoe Business Association Executive Director Cheri Sprenger, who has a strong marketing and promotions background, will be working with the conference center staff, utility district board members and a technical committee in the near future to develop strategies that will boost the conference center’s vitality.

“I like marketing and I believe in marketing a lot,” Sprenger said. “I’m looking forward to it. I hope that we can do whatever we can, because the conference center is kind of the heartbeat of our district.”

Sprenger has yet to meet and discuss a specific strategy with conference center staff, but said they will at least include the conference center in the North Tahoe Business Association’s own promotions and marketing for their district.

“I think we’re going to go bigger than that,” Sprenger said.