Should the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce be separated from the Convention and Visitors Bureau?
That's the question posed from several business leader, but it not up to the Chamber to decide.
It would be up to the city who set up the management agreement of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Monday Chamber officials say the partnership is a good match that saves both money that's put back into recruiting visitors to town.
Business owners point to this 2006, Randall Travel Marketing survey that many businesses participated in. It recommended the growing Convention and Visitors Bureau be split from the Chamber and be an independent entity, but chamber officials say the trend is moving CVB's back in with Chamber to downsize.
At recent a Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board meeting new hotel owner Bo Henry questioned where the hotel and motel tax he pays goes? Last month, his payment was $8,000 to the city.
"All that money is collected to be used to bring people to town and tourism and conventions and whatever to put people into the hotels," said Bo Henry, co-owner of Merry Acres Inn and Convention Center.
Henry wants to ensure that's exactly where it's headed as an independent hotel owner who has put a lot into his hotel and doesn't have a lot to spend on advertising. The question sparked a letter from Attorney Phil Cannon who dislikes the Chamber's decision to fire CVB Director Lisa Riddle and put Catherine Glover in charge of both the CVB and Chamber. Henry also worries that the CVB's focus will be lost.
"Sometimes when you have different missions then you can't focus on, each one can't put 100 percent focus on what that mission is," said Henry..
The city set up the partnership. Under state mandate the hotel and motel tax is split between the CVB and the city. Last year, the two split 1.2 million dollars generated by the tax. The Chamber's Board President says the partnership saves money in the long run.
"The CVB and the Chamber share employees, they share recourses, the person that does the markets and sales of sponsorships for the chamber is the same person who does marketing and sales for the CVB," said Judy Randle, Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Board President.
Neither Judy Randle nor Bobby McKinney feel they can discuss the personnel issue, but say the Convention and Visitor's Bureau's focus won't be lost without it's own director.
"Are we going to continue the full support of hotel and motels that we have been doing and the answer to that is yes," said Bobby McKinney, Albany Chamber Vice-President in charge of Tourism.
They say it's up to the city to continue the partnership, and it's the city that set up the management fee that's paid by the CVB with the directive that the funding is to manage the CVB.
The half the motel/hotel tax that the city keeps they say goes back into entities like the Albany Civic Center and Albany Municipal Auditorium that bring events and visitors into Albany.
A majority of the Chamber funding comes from business member ship fees and sponsorships they receive for local events.
Here's a copy of Phil Cannon's letter to commissioners and city leaders.