Nevada Co. to spend $90K with Switchback PR to market county tourism
Sun News Service
GRASS VALLEY, Calif. and#8212; After two years of debate, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously selected a private firm Tuesday to market county tourism for the next year.
Switchback Public Relations and Marketing of Truckee will be paid $90,000 under a one-year contract to be negotiated and returned to the board for approval in the near future. Switchback was formed in 1999 in Tahoe City.
The board has been discussing the need to create a marketing effort to spotlight all of Nevada County’s tourism attributes, expressing frustration with the often-fragmented efforts created by so many individual chamber and downtown organizations all vying for a piece of shrinking funds.
Supervisors Hank Weston of Penn Valley and Ted Owens of Truckee offered the initial concept. Both believed county money earmarked to the various chambers of commerce for tourism promotion was not helping their respective districts.
The board of supervisors and its budget subcommittee and#8211; not a visitors and convention bureau as was originally proposed and#8211; will manage the contract. A plan to form a county committee to watch over a visitors bureau was also scrapped.
and#8220;For me, this is about equity,and#8221; Owens said. and#8220;It’s been a long process.and#8221;
Switchback has proposed forming a business improvement district to create ongoing funding. The district would levy mandatory taxes on county lodging in exchange for tourism promotion services.
and#8220;What if the businesses say no to a business improvement district?and#8221; asked Supervisors Chairman Nate Beason, noting that Nevada City’s business improvement district did not work in recent years.
and#8220;The county support goes away, and we’re back to where we are now,and#8221; said Carl Ribaudo, a business improvement district expert and consultant for Switchback.
To gain that support, Ribaudo said businesses would be convinced of the improvement district’s worthiness at a large workshop. A new tourism website will also help convince business owners, he said.
and#8220;I’m skeptical,and#8221; Beason said. and#8220;I’ve heard a lot of generalities, but I’m willing to attempt this.and#8221; However, Beason said the contract must have strict performance measurement standards.
The board turned down a proposal from the independent Nevada County Conference and Visitors Bureau. Supervisor John Spencer said Director John Zurflueh’s proposal had too many unknowns and relied on future money from the cities that isn’t assured.
For Weston, it was easy to pick a firm to bring the county’s diverse chambers of commerce and other organizations together to pound out a marketing plan.
and#8220;We have a great band here without a conductor,and#8221; Weston said.
Grass Valley-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Mueller said the Nevada County Joint Chambers of Commerce did not send a proposal because they lacked the expertise.
and#8220;We thought a professional marketing company would come in and do what was best for the community,and#8221; Mueller said. and#8220;If it was one our local entities, there would have been a perceived biasand#8221; about the selection.
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