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Council approves considering a plan to create a nonprofit and hire an executive director to head up ramped up tourism effort

A new tourism marketing organization is on the radar for Newberg. The nonprofit organization will focus on bringing tourism and destination marketing to Newberg and the surrounding area.

The Newberg City Council passed a resolution Aug. 20 with the "intent to establish a tourism marking organization" that uses Newberg's transient lodging tax (TLT) revenues, according to the council packet.

The money for the new organization would come from the abundant proceeds of the TLT. Under a 2018-2019 contract with the city, the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce received $145,342 to operate the visitors' center, including $40,000 slated for destination marketing. Twenty-thousand dollars of the entire TLT fund is earmarked for a small grant award program with leftovers of nearly $353,000 reserved for destination development and marketing. TLT proceeds are forecasted to increase, based on previous data, to $390,168 by 2022-2023.

The draft proposal, which requires council approval, is to place the $20,000 grant award money on hold and divert the $353,000 to the new organization for destination marketing in fiscal year 2019-2020. The marketing organization, called Visit Newberg, and its executive director would be housed within the Chamber of Commerce's building on Portland Road.

The draft proposed by the TLT committee says funds will be designated for payroll and the development of destination marketing materials, programs, advertising, consultant services, travel, mileage, entertainment and conferences.

If the proposal is adopted it's likely the Chamber's contract with the city for the visitors' center will be discontinued.

"Yes, the future of the Chamber running the visitors' center is in a flux," Shannon Buckmaster, CEO of Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce, said. "I want to make the arrangements that are best for our community. … This will be resolved when we have finished forming the organization with the board of directors, (who) hires the new director."

She added that regardless of what direction the city takes on the visitors' center, it will "certainly shift the direction of the chamber and how we serve our city." The rough draft contains an executive director job description, salary figures and the responsibilities of the new organization. The next step is the city council will have more discussions and consider approving a more detailed design plan for the new organization.

"The council will go through a process to charter a tourism marketing organization that could be through ordinances and through resolutions," Community Development Director Doug Rux said. "This organization will have to set up their own bylaws and obtain nonprofit status, they will have to create a marketing program. … (The resolution has) some framework structure that we can build upon."

This means there will be a lot to talk about in the coming months as the city files the necessary paper work, applies for nonprofit status for the organization and adopts new ordinances.

"You would have to charter the organization and there would have to be some contracts that would have to be entered into, (as well as) modifications to the Chamber of Commerce contract," Rux told the council in August.

The draft budget plan presented to the council indicated an annual salary range of $60,000 to $75,000 for the tourism executive director, with between $15,000 and $20,000 in benefits. Included in the cost is support services for the chamber of $24,000 annual overhead for the office space, payroll services, insurance, copier, phone, kitchen and the use of a conference room and supplies. Visitor center staff support is factored in with a minimum of $1,000 a month and a maximum of $2,000 at $20 per hour. The chamber is providing support such as the coordination, consulting, helping to develop connections and collaboration on existing tourism activities.

"This new organization is not completely designed yet," Patrick Johnson, city councilor said in an email. "However, there will be a staff person paid by TLT to market Newberg and surrounding areas."

The balance of $211,000 in the budget would be used for destination marketing materials and programs, advertising, consultant services, travel and mileage, entertainment and attending conferences.

The arrangement would be similar to the arrangements the city has with the Chamber for the visitors' center. The first board of directors will be appointed by the council to oversee the activities of the new organization, then hire an executive director who will present annual reports before council.

As a nonprofit, the marketing organization can acquire additional funds through grants and donations to use for tourism destination marketing purposes.

Under the current funding mechanism, 65 percent of TLT proceeds go into the city's general fund, while 35 percent must be used to promote tourism. The request is that if additional funds befell the organization from outside of the TLT proceeds, that money would be used for tourism marketing and not be funneled into the general fund.

The TLT ad-hoc committee reviewed McMinnville's tourism model as an example to build on for Newberg. McMinnville has three separate organizations, Visit McMinnville, the visitor's center and the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce. In Newberg, the chamber has been synonymous with the visitor's center. In McMinnville, they took the TLT funds and started Visit McMinnville as a nonprofit.

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