Change can be a positive thing.
But only if you’re doing it for the right reasons and only if you have a solid plan in place for implementing it.
When it comes to Fulton County taking over tourism duties from the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, the reasons and the plan don’t justify a change right now.
So when the Fulton County Board of Supervisors votes Tuesday on whether to end its $178,000 tourism promotion contract with the chamber, members should vote no.
Then both sides should commit to resolving their differences for the benefit of residential taxpayers and businesses.
The chamber, most agree, has been doing a solid job promoting tourism under an annual contract with the county. But the county’s relationship with the chamber has soured over the years because of a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the relationship.
Chamber officials feel that they’ve done a solid job promoting tourism in both Fulton and Montgomery counties, and can back it up with the numbers that show an increase year over year. They also say that both the county and the chamber will be harmed if the county goes in a new direction.
But Fulton County officials feel that by getting full control over tourism, they can make better use of county resources like planning and economic development to take its tourism promotion to the next level. They feel the chamber can continue to complement the county’s efforts.
The county’s rationale for making the switch actually appears contradictory. Officials say they’re dissatisfied with the tourism-promotion work of the chamber, yet they plan to hire chamber tourism director Anne Boles to run the new tourism effort for them. She’s done an excellent job, they say. Yet they say the chamber has fallen short in its overall effort? It doesn’t make sense.
Regardless of what Montgomery County does regarding its tourism promotion contract with the chamber, the damage done between the chamber and Fulton County doesn’t appear irreparable.
First, chamber leader Mark Kilmer needs to take this latest push as a wakeup call, or risk losing the contract forever. That means the chamber needs to be more flexible and attentive to what supervisors want in terms of the types of promotions and the quantity.
The chamber also needs to make sure Fulton County is getting the chamber’s best effort and using county money solely to benefit Fulton County and not itself.
The two sides also need to meet more frequently to ensure both sides stick to a plan.
If it appears the relationship remains untenable, the county will need to come up with a more tangible plan for taking over tourism promotion efforts, including setting specific goals and steps to reach them.
Right now, there just seems to be this feeling among supervisors that they need to do something differently. That’s just not good enough to justify such a major departure from the current arrangement right now.
Both sides need to invest more time and effort into rebuilding this relationship before either side decides to abandon it.