SIOUX FALLS, SD - Should the City of Sioux Falls spend about $3 million just to promote the City? That is the question Mayor Mike Huether is asking. A committee he has appointed is looking at how the Convention and Visitor's Bureau spends a tax money, which is set aside for marketing. However, some with the visitors industry are concerned about tweaking a system they say already works.
More venues mean more events, and that means more people are spending more money in Sioux Falls.
"Right now, our momentum and our confidence is certainly at a fever pitch," Huether said.
Sioux Falls continues to see growth and additions, including the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center and the SCHEELS IcePlex.
"How can we improve? What needs to be tweaked?" Huether said.
This nine-member review committee will spend several meetings looking at how well the current system is working. The first meeting on Monday brought in a full house.
"You know, we had 40 people here from the visitor industry who are concerned about what's going to happen with BID money because they want to remain competitive," Sioux Falls CVB Executive Director Teri Schmidt said.
Schmidt says the visitor industry in Sioux Falls generates $256 million.
"That doesn't just happen. People don't just say, while we all know Sioux Falls is a great community, people don't just say, 'Oh, Sioux Falls is great.' You've got to get your brand out there," Schmidt said.
Though Schmidt says it is important to have enough money to promote Sioux Falls, others argue that using the money to help pay for events could also bring people to town.
"We need money, like example, volleyball. The cost of the court rental I'm subsidizing is $40,000, so that's coming out of our budget but it's not marketing. It's not promotion. It's the rental of the court," Terry Torkildson, Denny Sanford PREMIER Center General Manager, said.
Members of the BID Review Committee declined interviews with us, even to simply explain their goals for this process. Instead, they said to talk with the company the City is paying to facilitate these meetings. Consultant Margaret Sumption, with Sumption & Wyland, says ultimately the group will look at strategies to make sure your tax dollars are put to good use.
"How do you give up what you've been doing and do something different that may be more pro-active? Maybe a little riskier, but would ultimately benefit," Sumption said.
Schmidt says the CVB is and always has been open to using the money creatively when it comes to marketing. Several leaders of the Sioux Falls hotel industry are keeping a close watch on this process. They agreed to collect the $2 tax about five years ago, with the understanding that it would be used to market and promote Sioux Falls. They want to make sure any potential changes do not take away any of their customers. They sent a letter to Mayor Huether, which states the current system is working for them.