Placer to support conference center |

Placer to support conference center

The Placer County Redevelopment Agency has said they are interested in working with the North Tahoe Public Utility District to support the North Tahoe Community Conference Center so the facility will remain a viable community asset and economic driver for Kings Beach.

After a six-hour meeting last month between county officials, district staff and board members, a partnership was outlined that would boost the conference center’s marketing efforts.

“The tone and the mood is very cooperative between the redevelopment agency and the North Tahoe PUD,” said Rich Colwell, Placer County Chief Assistant CEO and Redevelopment Agency Director. “And that is the type of cooperation and mutual leadership that is necessary in order to ensure the long-term economic health of Kings Beach.”

With the conference center consistently operating at a deficit “-a financial burden the district must shoulder ” the North Tahoe Public Utility District has been actively seeking out assistance and support for the facility’s operations.

“This is part of the effort to find ways to make the conference center be able to pay for itself,” said district General Manager Curtis Aaron.

The lodging community, the North Tahoe Business Association and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, with grants for marketing materials and a software program, have already joined hands with the district. And last month’s pivotal meeting brought the county into the arena as well.

“I don’t believe there is a more beautiful site for a conference than at Kings Beach,” Colwell said.

The redevelopment agency suggested the district garner further support from the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association to create a three-way partnership that would intensify marketing efforts and draw more business to the conference center.

“We believe, that with increased partnership and support from the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, that we could put together a very workable plan,” Colwell said.

Marketing is at the crux of the revitalization strategy officials discussed at last month’s meeting, Aaron said. Capital reinvestment, hiring an employee to market the conference center and go after shoulder season business, and bridging business between the conference center and local lodging were among the strategies discussed.

“We were impressed with the marketing plan that was presented to us by the North Tahoe PUD board and Alex Mourelatos at that meeting,” Colwell said. “We provided suggestions and comments to even improve the process. So it was six hours of truly community based and collaborative efforts.”

District officials also said the meeting was positive and went well. However, they remain wary of investing more money into the conference center’s marketing efforts when the facility’s revenues continue to come up short.

“That’s one of our largest concerns,” Aaron said. “We’re at great risk for something that we don’t do as part of our business model as a utility district and recreation district.”

If the marketing efforts do generate increased business, then that additional revenue would offset the conference center’s deficit, Aaron said.

But if business stays the same or worsens, despite the investment made by the district, the county and perhaps the resort association, then the district’s deficit will increase, placing additional stress on their recreational reserves.

“It’s a difficult proposition,” Aaron said. “If it’s unsuccessful … then the district is the one who is footing the majority of the bill at the end. Because we have the greatest investment on it.”

The board directed Aaron to continue discussion with the county.

“I think the board would like to give it the opportunity to work,” Aaron said. “But they’re also concerned that they don’t want to dig into their reserves.”

In the meantime, however, the conference center is making use of the resort association’s grants and looking for an updated software system that will streamline office work, as well as create a fresh and cohesive look for their Web site and brochures.

“It’s important that this conversation took place” with the County, said Director John Bergmann. “And there will be more of them.”

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