Convention bureau wants help with Two Rivers

Board asks city to increase its share of subsidy for meeting facility

As budget conversations continue in the city, Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau board members shared their wish for a funding shift to free up marketing money to attract more tourism.

They met this week for lunch with the Grand Junction City Council to talk about sharing more of the subsidy cost of Two Rivers Convention Center. This year, that cost for the VCB is $329,000.

“We could do so much more if we had more money,” said board member Per Nilsson. For every $1 spent on marketing, the gain is $7.60 for the community, he added.

Council members agreed on the importance of this, having a “top-notch” convention center and that they should continue to look at how the future subsidy could be balanced between them. In years leading up to 2009, it was paid for fully out of the city’s general and capital funds. Then with the economic downturn, the VCB stepped in to cover most of it.

However, if it continues this way, it’s not a healthy path for the VCB, said City Manager Rich Englehart.

“It’s a partnership and we’ve got to figure it out between all of us,” he said.

Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St., is the largest facility in town for gatherings, with dining for 1,200 people possible in its largest room. However, attracting large-scale conferences and business meetings can be tough in the economy and a cancelation of one or two large events leads to uncertainty for end of year revenue, staff said.

Englehart said, “It is an anchor … it brings and spurs economic development.”

Currently, the general fund is not able to absorb it all, but it could start to be worked back in, he said. A formula has been used in the past to determine the increased revenue the center brings to the community, which could help city officials figure out what percentage to cover.

Council member Tom Kenyon said, “I don’t know what the right balance is, but I know I don’t want the Visitor and Convention Bureau to not be able to promote our community like they have in the past.”


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